In case you missed it, the death of Heath Ledger has made it, ah, difficult, for Terry Gilliam to move forward with his latest project, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, in which Ledger was to play a prominent role. Friday, the New York Times reported Gilliam still wants to move forward with the film anyway, despite the fact that they had completed only 18 days of principal photography.
Gilliam has a few options here, but none would be easy, and some, such as recasting and reshooting, might even be impossible. Dr. Parnassus himself, Christopher Plummer, revealed in an interview with People (thanks, Dark Horizons) one specific option Gilliam is considering:
“Fortunately, because the film deals with magic, there is a way, perhaps, of turning Heath into other people and then, using stills and I think they call it CGI…”
This may not be as extreme an idea as it sounds. The premise of the film involves Ledger’s character traveling through different worlds, which could conceivably mean the role could be taken on by another or others in the parts that don’t take place in the film’s “real world,” and the word last week was Gilliam had been courting Johnny Depp for just that purpose (Depp’s representation told People it wasn’t happening).
If Gilliam does go that route, pasting Ledger’s face on a double would only be necessary in whatever is left to film of the “real world” parts, and, really, that’s also the only way this idea could be at all practical or respectful. Unfortunately,we don’t currently know how much of that is left, and whether or not this situation is directly analogous that of The Crow (which only did the CG replacement in a couple scenes), so the whole thing is still a little difficult to gauge.
To be honest, I don’t think that would be a bad idea, as long as Gilliam can actually pull it off in a realistic manner. Keep in mind this is only a $30 million production with, as the New York Times said, half that already spent. Thought it is likely they’ll get some of that back in an insurance payout.
Understand this is in no way a concrete plan. The project may still be dead, or Gilliam may just try something else.