Terry Gilliam’s new movie features Heath Ledger’s final role

When its young star, Heath Ledger, died mid-production in January 2008, it seemed a foregone conclusion that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the film he was in the middle of shooting, was finished. Three weeks later, the producers announced that a trio of other stars, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law, would step in to replace Ledger for part of the movie.

"Death, resurrection, transformation - transfiguration's the only word for it," said director Terry Gilliam, in an interview at the Toronto Film Festival.

The movie was rescued, but the tragedies didn't end. In April 2008, the film's Canadian producer, William Vince, was diagnosed with cancer and died, at the age of 44, just two months after shooting finished. In September, Gilliam was standing outside his favourite Soho restaurant in London when he was struck by a van, sending him flying through the air. He broke only a vertebra - third time lucky, thought the director.

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