With the sad loss of Heath Ledger late last week, a shadow has fallen over the future of the upcoming Terry Gilliam project, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Imaginarium had been in the middle of filming when Ledger, one of the film’s leads, was found dead and since then its future has been looking shakey at best. Gilliam (Imaginarium‘s co-writer and director) hasn’t had the best track record with keeping productions on track through stormy weather and according to Christopher Plummer (yup, Captain VonTrapp himself) he’s doing all he can to keep this one on course, even if it means recreating Ledger in the digital world.
“Terry [Gilliam] is throwing himself into the job of trying to salvage the picture… 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.”
It’s understandable that Gilliam would want his work completed, but Plummer says that it’s in no way pride that’s driving the director forward. According to him, Gilliam was a great friend of Heath Ledger (they had previously worked together on The Brothers Grimm) and really wants to dedicate Ledger’s last work to him.
With the ability to complete a actor’s performance posthumously a proven trick of the trade, the question becomes whether the act should be done at all. An actor playing a character is more than a mere image on the screen but also words, motions, expressions, each of them unique to that person. Whether or not the ability exists, the question remains: Should it be done at all?
Talking Point: Should Terry Gilliam try to digitally recreate Heath Ledger to save his film?