British movie polymath Terry Gilliam this afternoon unveiled clips at Comic-Con of his latest project, “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” The lush and bizarre fantasy movie co-stars Heath Ledger, in his final role before his death, as Tony, a silver-tongued showman modeled after former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Ledger, whose memorable performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” inspired armies of costumed copycats at last year’s Comic-Con, died in January before he could finish “Parnassus.”
Gilliam’s clip shows Ledger, resplendent in a white suit and Pulcinella mask, pouring on the snake oil charm for an audience of gullible women in a mall.
“He was an extraordinary actor,” Gilliam said of the 28-year-old Australian actor. “He was very old. There’s a wisdom about him that was far beyond his years.”
Ledger, who had a yen for unconventional roles, asked to play Tony, Gilliam said. “I said yessss!” he recalled.
The two could have been artistic doppelgangers had Ledger lived. Gilliam, who is one of the six members of Monty Python, is known for his outlandish films, including “Brazil,” “Jabberwocky” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
With Ledger’s outsized performance, “Parnassus” could prove to be one of Gilliam’s most bizarre projects thus far.
– Alex Pham
Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.