Terry Gilliam on Zack Snyder's Watchmen: 'It Needed a Kick in the Ass'


I spoke to director Terry Gilliam yesterday, and while our interview will run much closer to the Christmas Day release date of his newest film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, I couldn't help but ask him about Watchmen. Gilliam twice attempted to mount Watchmen for the screen (even going so far as to pitch it as a television miniseries) but could never make it work, so I was curious what he thought of Zack Snyder's theatrical adaptation of the graphic novel, which came out earlier this year.

"I felt a lot of it was so good," Gilliam began. "It got the look of it brilliantly. But it suffered from some of the things I was having problems with when I was trying to write a script. It's too short. It's also too long! It's a very weird thing and they had to make so many compromises and changes. I was always saying it should be a five-part miniseries. I still believe that."

As Gilliam continued, he echoed the prevailing critique of the film: "But he got the look right, and the Rorshach stuff is really, really great. I think I felt if there was any fault, it was almost too respectful of the original." Gilliam laughed. "It needed a kick in the ass, frankly." ♦


  • Michael Strangeways says:

    everything Gilliam says is true...it SHOULD have been a miniseries on HBO and it WAS too short and too long and sometimes TOO faithful to the source.
    also, some of the casting was awful.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Has anyone ever mentioned the Gilliam tribute at the beginning of Watchmen? As the credits end, a store front full of televisions explodes directly at the audience just like the opening of Brazil!

  • it came from the tar pits says:

    The most telling post mortem of the film was going out to Santa Monica Blvd on Halloween. Who dresses up as the Watchmen? No one.

  • Scott says:

    There was a TON of Silk Spectre's on Santa Monica Blvd Halloween.

  • Oh wow, its the NEWS.. oh, no, its just gollywood. Hey Associated Press, why dont you let the rag mags cover this crap? Give us some REAL news.

  • [...] I didn’t like Zach Snyder’s interpretation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Sure it was flashy and stylish, but it was too long and lacked the immediate thwack the cinema requires. Before Snyder stepped in the director’s chair, visionary filmmaker Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil) had previously accepted the job…twice. [...]

  • […] He’s also a filmmaker of extraordinary bad luck. His epic, multi-year struggle to bring his personal version of Brazil to the screen against the resistance of a meddling studio inspired an entire book, The Battle of Brazil: Terry Gilliam v. Universal by Jack Matthews.  The Adventures of Baron Munchausen started production months late (costing thousands of lost dollars each day the cameras didn’t turn), due to either the inexperience or corrupt shadiness of the German/Italian production team, depending on whose version you believe. The project’s biggest star, Sean Connery, bailed from the project when his part was shortened due to budget concerns. These, and many other gut-wrenching disasters, are chronicled in yet another book, Losing The Light: Terry Gillian and the Munchausen Saga by Andrew Yule. (Pro tip: If your projects’ issues inspire entire published books, you’re probably pretty star-crossed.) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ star, Heath Ledger, did Connery one better by actually dying midway through shooting. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was never completed, despite two attempts (so far) to film it. That production’s problems are far too myriad to go into here, and led to the creation of not a book, but a fascinating documentary, Lost In La Mancha, a sad and frustrating chronicle of a movie falling apart before the director’s eyes (as filmed by the crew who were supposed to be filming the “making of” bonus feature for the aborted film’s DVD). And for a very long time, he was the director attached to the film version of the groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen, which languished in “development hell” for years. He finally left the project because he was unable to raise the necessary budget — a direct result of the Munchausen fiasco. (The film was ultimately made in 2009 with Zack Snyder directing.) […]

  • […] problema. Terry Gilliam ya quiso dirigir la adaptación y no pudo, así que la pregunta de ‘¿qué habría echo Terry Gilliam con este argumento?‘ es obligada y […]