<EM>Tideland</EM> , writer-director Terry Gilliam Tideland , writer-director Terry Gilliam
Time Bandits. Brazil.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. As a writer and director, Terry Gilliam has created some of the most memorably surreal movies of the last 25 years. As a performer and animator, he was the only American member of Monty Python. And yet the sexagenarian ex-pat insists that these days he has about as much luck getting films made as Orson Welles did late in his career. While 1995's Twelve Monkeys (which Gilliam helmed but didn't pen) was a modest hit, his next picture, 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (based on gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's book), was a flop. For the next seven years, Gilliam struggled to get his projects off the ground, notably the infamously aborted The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Then in 2005, Gilliam shot two movies back-to-back: the big-budget Hollywood epic The Brothers Grimm, and the small, independent Tideland, based on Mitch Cullin's gruesome Gothic novel of the same name and rolling out in select cities this weekend.

Despite an A-list cast (including Matt Damon and Heath Ledger), The Brothers Grimm bombed at the box office, but Gilliam isn't worried about the same thing happening to Tideland. He already knows that the film  which he describes as "Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho," and features a 10-year-old girl preparing heroin-filled syringes, cuddling with her father's corpse, and romancing a mentally challenged man  won't be a hit. In fact, he's thrilled when people manage just to make it to the end.

TVGuide.com: I read that after your old Monty Python mate Michael Palin saw Tideland, he said that it was either the best or the worst film you'd ever made.
Terry Gilliam:
I love that quote! That's why I use it. I don't care what people think about the film, as long as they think about it. I know it's going to get very strong reactions. I know that the majority of people will probably walk out. There are those who just reject it and others who come out literally beaming with joy. How long ago did you see it?

TVGuide.com: Yesterday.
Gilliam: Wait the week, then watch it a second time. I want to put that on the poster  "It's better the second time." The first time you see it, you're full of fear and anxiety, but the second time you let that all go. It was the same with Brazil. Walkouts on Brazil were incredible when it first came out.

TVGuide.com: Really? I remember my mom taking me to see it when I was 14, and I just loved it.
You were the right age. You weren't an adult.

TVGuide.com: I also heard a rumor that you quit The Brothers Grimm in order to shoot Tideland.
That's so dramatic. No, I had already cut Grimm when I went to work on Tideland. We were on our third public screening of Grimm and I was butting heads with [the producers] the Weinsteins, who wanted me to make changes. [Producer] Jeremy Thomas called me and said that he had the money for Tideland and so I told the Weinsteins, "Look, I'm going to go ahead and do that. You guys go play with Grimm and decide what you want to do with it, then give me a buzz." So I went off and made Tideland. Then when I was editing it I got a call from the Weinsteins who said, "We'd like you to finish your version of Grimm." So I edited both films at the same time.

TVGuide.com: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was your last feature before Grimm and Tideland. Did you purposefully take a seven-year hiatus from filmmaking?
No, no, no. I'm always trying to make movies. I never stop. I've always got several projects I'm trying to get made, but I can't get the money. The things I want to do require considerable sums. If Hollywood thinks that I am out of control and dangerous and irresponsible and not interested in making money, that puts me in a weak position. My only strength in Hollywood is that I can attract A-list stars. Then again, maybe after Tideland, I won't be able to do that anymore. A friend of mine, a guy who reviewed the film in Paris, said it was the most spectacular artistic suicide he'd ever seen.

TVGuide.com: If you can address another rumor, I heard that earlier this year you renounced your American citizenship.
Gilliam: Correct.

TVGuide.com: Why now? Was it for political reasons?
Gilliam: Forty years ago, I left for England because I was fed up with the country. The current [U.S.] political situation has been bugging me, there's no question about that. But the final straw was me getting old and discovering that when I kick the bucket  which is imminent  the American tax authorities will assess everything I own in the world and then tax my wife and children. Everything I own is outside of America and it was earned outside of America, so I said, "Forget that. I have to pay inheritance tax in Britain and America as well? F--k it."  

TVGuide.com: And here I was thinking that you were making some grand political statement about how you couldn't stomach being an American anymore. But in the end, it's just about money.
[Laughing] Isn't that what America's always been about? The idea that the majority of my tax money goes to build bombs, that's awful. I've actually said that I'm seriously considering suing George Bush, Cheney and the gang for making an illegal and unauthorized remake of Brazil.

TVGuide.com: Who's Sam Lowry in their version? The whole American public?
You got it. You're all dreaming.

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