Johnny Depp is Doing His Own Version of Don Quixote

Twelve years after starring in the aborted Who Killed Don Quixote, Johnny Depp is producing his own, modern version for Disney.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Johnny Depp must have a thing for Miguel de Cervantes, the writer of the classic novel Don Quixote. The actor was previously attached to the Terry Gilliam feature Who Killed Don Quixote, which began filming in 2000, but the production ran into problems so monumental that the film was never finished, and what little footage Gilliam shot was incorporated into the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha, about how the fantasy film went so horribly wrong. Truth be told, Don Quixote movies have a history of not working out. The great Orson Welles struggled to get his own version made for decades. Now, Johnny Depp is taking his own crack at the classic literary character: he's producing a modern version of the novel. Or at least… sort of.

Disney, a studio that has had great luck collaborating with Johnny Depp so far in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Alice in Wonderland and the upcoming summer tentpole release The Lone Ranger, has snatched up a pitch from Depp that will be written by Steve Pink (High Fidelity) and Jeff Morris. Deadline reports that the project does not have an official title yet, but the site says the pitch is "best described as a modern re-imagining of Don Quixote," a novel about a Spanish nobleman who reads too many adventure novels and decides to start crusading in the name of chivalry, fighting windmills whilst under the impression that they are giant monsters.

There's a lot of wiggle-room in the description of Depp's new film. If you think about it, James Thurber's classic short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, later adapted into a classic 1943 comedy with Danny Kaye and currently slated for a remake directed by and starring Ben Stiller, would also be "best described as a modern re-imagining of Don Quixote." So would any story about a person who eschews reality in favor of a fantasy universe. Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King would meet the same criteria. But thus far the internet is taking the comparison literally, possibly because that's how it's intended – Don Quixote could be a pretty great adventure movie (and tragic drama) with the right director and modern special effects – or possibly because the Lost in La Mancha parallels are too good to not write about.

Meanwhile, Terry Gilliam is still trying to get Who Killed Don Quixote produced. When we last heard about that particular production, with Robert Duvall attached as Don Quixote and Ewan McGregor attached in Johnny Depp's old role, that of a 21st century advertising executive who goes back in time and teams up with the iconic wanderer.


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani