Published May 22, 2009
| London Times
The film that Heath Ledger was working on when he died of an accidental drug overdose has been screened for the first time in Cannes today.
He had shot about half of his role at the time of his death so the director Terry Gilliam improvised a solution whereby Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell between them completed the performance. They donated their fees to the actor’s daughter Matilda.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a characteristically wild fantasy ripped from Gilliam’s imagination about a travelling showman who makes a pact with the devil. Some critics pronounced it a baffling mess while others were enchanted.
But the film will be overshadowed by the tragic demise of its lead actor, who was found dead in New York in January 2008, during a break in filming.
Ledger’s character is first glimpsed hanging from a bridge, apparently dead, in what Gilliam described as a “homage to Roberto Calvi”, the banker to the Vatican found hanged from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.
“There was irony throughout this film and there was even more irony post Heath’s death,” he said this morning. “I hope he would be pleased with it. I think he would be.”