'The Zero Theorem' is the new film from director Terry Gilliam (left), and stars Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and Tilda Swinton, among other actors. (Max Nash / Matt Sayles / Invision/ Associated Press)Link
Christoph Waltz in the street in a scene from "The Zero Theorem." (Voltage Pictures)Link
Terry Gilliam directs behind the scenes on "The Zero Theorem." (Voltage Pictures)Link
Comic-Con audiences got the first look at the opening 10 minutes of “The Zero Theorem,” director Terry Gilliam’s mystery-shrouded science fiction film starring Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton, in Hall H Thursday.
In a panel moderated by Hero Complex’s own Gina McIntyre, Gilliam’s daughter and producer, Amy Gilliam, and producers Dean Zanuck and Zev Foreman shed a bit of light on the enigmatic movie, the director’s first feature since 2009’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.”
Set in a steampunky future world with candy-colored graffiti, talking billboards, whizzing little cars and a cold-hearted bureaucracy called ManCom running the show, “The Zero Theorem” lends itself to comparisons with Gilliam’s seminal dark comedic fantasy, “Brazil.”
Waltz, who appears naked, bald and hunched over a desk in the opening shots of the film, plays Qohen, an eccentric and overworked computer genius in the midst of an existential crisis. Melanie Thierry is Bainsley, a woman who seems to be the answer to Qohen’s search for meaning.
“What could be deemed a small, little indie becomes an event when Terry’s involved,” Zanuck said. “He does touch on themes he has in the past, but with this script and these actors and the world he creates, this is new.”
When an audience member asked why Gilliam’s films so often seem to be about a persecuted man, the director’s daughter said, “Terry loves to be tormented. That’s what makes him create this kind of work. Without the torment, this world would be boring.”
The American-born British director, best known to many for his work in the comedy troupe Monty Python, appeared in the panel via a video message.
“I’m being held by the producers of ‘The Zero Theorem’ until I’m actually done,” Gilliam told the audience. “I’m trying to communicate with you through the help of the National Security Administration. I’m confident of their spying skills.”
Gilliam was quick to distance his movie from the genre fare that typifies Comic-Con.
“If they tell you this a film with superheroes… explosions… zombies, they’re lying,” he said. “It’s about a man waiting for a simple thing.”
Elsewhere Gilliam has hinted that the movie, which still does not have U.S. distribution, will premiere at next month’s Venice Film Festival.
– Rebecca Keegan | @LATHeroComplex
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