Thewlis & Swinton sign-on to Terry Gilliam's latest 'The Zero Theorem'
Terry Gilliam remains one of the few directors of today who is not afraid of risk. He thinks big, lives outside the box and creates films that have layers upon layers of metaphors. He also assumes his viewers are intelligent, so his stories are complex, multi-layered, yet I think they’re important, and humanistic. The themes of his films are usually about people at the crossroads of their lives, who see a dysfunctional world that gets ignored by most, and tries to make some sort of sense of it. And the more the odd, the more bizarre, the more fun Gilliam has. It tells me that he tries –and while sometimes fails at it- more than others to show his audience that being predictable and safe may make you feel comfortable, but it’s a false reality. I fear, at times, that his genius as a filmmaker, as an American treasure, will not be recognition until well after he has left us.
Back in August, Oscar winner Christoph Waltz signed on to lead Gilliam’s next film, The Zero Theorem, which is about an eccentric and reclusive computer genius who is plagued with existential angst who works on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence—or the lack thereof—once and for all. The film is written by Pat Rushin and seems to play right into Gilliam’s virtues, which has Waltz’s character of Oohen Leth living in an Orwellian world where a society is watched, via “mancams,” by a shadowy figure known only as Management. The plot gets even odder: Leth works on a solution to the strange theorem while living as a virtual cloistered monk in his home—the shattered interior of a fire-damaged chapel. His isolation and work are interrupted now and then by surprise visits from Bainsley, a flamboyantly lusty love interest who tempts him with “tantric biotelemetric interfacing” (virtual sex) and Bob. Latter is the rebellious whiz-kid teenage son of Management who, with a combination of insult-comedy and an evolving true friendship, spurs on Qohen’s efforts at solving the theorem. But these visits turn out to be intentional diversions orchestrated by Management to keep control of Qohen’s progress. Bob creates a virtual reality “inner-space” suit that will carry Qohen on an inward voyage, a close encounter with the hidden dimensions and truth of his own soul, wherein lie the answers both he and Management are seeking. The suit and supporting computer technology will perform an inventory of Qohen’s soul, either proving or disproving the Zero Theorem. David Thewlis, Tilda Swinton, Lucas Hedges and French actress Melanie Thierry have been added to the cast, which begins filming in late October in Romania. Dean Zanuck, grandson of legendary 20th Century Fox studio creator and son of frequent Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton producer, Richard Zanuck, and his production company, Zanuck Independent, is producing the film along with Voltage Pictures.