Terry Gilliam

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Terry Gilliam (Medicine Lake, Minnesota, November 22, 1940) is a American cartoonist, animator, comedian and film director. He became famous as part of the comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus, where he was the only American member. Gilliam made the surrealistic cut-and-paste animated cartoons for the program.

When the TV show ended Gilliam started a new career as a film director and directed films like "Time Bandits" (1981), "Brazil" (1985), "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1989), "Twelve Monkeys" (1996), "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998) and "Tideland" (2005). His films have always divided public and critics, since they tend to be very imaginative and original, but often suffer from studio involvement, technical problems and Gilliam's idiosyncratic taste. Brazil is generally considered his masterpiece.

In 1968, Gilliam obtained British citizenship, holding a dual American and British citizenship for 38 years until January 2006, when he renounced his American citizenship as a protest against U.S. President George W. Bush. As a result,he is only permitted to spend 30 days per year in the United States.

Zappa references

Gilliam is among the FZ supporting cast in the making of The MOFO Project/Object (Deluxe Edition) and appears as background drunk on America Drinks.

In the 1980s Zappa had given Terry Gilliam a film script he was looking for someone to direct. According to a description given by Kevin Murphy of the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000- who was also approached to direct it- this was without any doubt the script of Hunchentoot. [1] In a 2005 BBC Film-network 'Tideland' film interview Gilliam was asked about the FZ script;

Interviewer: "I understand Frank Zappa gave you a screenplay he'd been working on in the eighties... what did you think of it?"
Gilliam: "Well, I actually told Frank Zappa that the script he had sent me would make better television. It was really outrageous, and it was really grotty... and funny and... it's the kind of thing that would make really good television. ...Ahh, and he probably... I can't remember when he sent that to me... it was probably just before cable really took off and became... you know... the place where really free, and wild, and foul ideas could... aah... could survive...aah, now. It was... very funny, very strange... but it was television..."[2]

Gilliam also provided the foreword to the liner notes on the album Strictly Commercial. He claims that he was present in the audience during the infamous Royal Albert Hall concert in 1968 where Zappa and the Mothers played Louie Louie live on one of the organs. Another future celebrity who was present in the audience that notorious evening was Salman Rushdie [3]

I don't know if you want this known or talked about but there was a letter from Terry Gilliam being passed around on Friday night (it referred to a film script Zappa had written and showed to Gilliam). I was wondering if you'd like to say anything ...
Talk about being flattered!

Did you ever watch Monty Python or see 'Brazil'?
Yes – Brazil's my favourite movie.

It's one of mine, definitely. I always liked his things in Monty Python more than the sketches – his graphics.
Yah. He's so funny it's hard to imagine he's an American.

What kind of project is it?
Well I wrote a screen-play and I was looking for someone to direct it. I've been working on it for years.[4]

On page two of Robert Ross' "Monty Python Encyclopedia" Gilliam claims: "As for that quote from Frank Zappa about me being the only comic genius to come out of America that's nonsense. I mean, it's a great quote but it's all balls! I actually knew Frank before I came to England. Me and my then girlfriend appear on one of the early Mothers of Invention albums. It's some sort of crowd effect and we were dragged into the studio to make noises like drunks in a bar."

He and the other five Monty Python actors were also mentioned and thanked in the liner notes of The MOFO Project/Object (2006) album. [5]


See Also

Terry Gilliam Bio