Johnny Depp is being rumored to replace Heath Ledger in the upcoming Terry Gilliam movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which begs the question: if a leading actor dies, what should happen to the film?
My personal belief is that a movie shouldn’t die based on one man alone. After all, there are hundreds of other people involved in the making of a film, and as tragic as Heath Ledger’s death was, should all their work be put to waste? Furthermore, what about the guy who wrote the movie? How would you feel if your work was about to be put into action and then it was stopped indefinitely.
The current status of the The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus movie is that it is on hold, but I’m sure we’ll see an incarnation of it at some point or another. Despite my belief above, according to MovieWeb, filming of the picture was almost complete, which begs another question:
What do you do with all that footage? Obviously, it will be released at some point or another, but if filming was nearly complete, does it make sense to redo all of his scenes with another actor or do something else (CGI, stand-in, what?). Some options might be disrespectful, others financially or artfully inappropriate, but if filming was almost complete, what makes the most sense?
In a recent Sun Times article, co-star Christopher Plummer said that there may be a way to salvage the film without Heath Ledger:Terry Gilliam is â€œtrying to work out at this moment how to continue on. Fortunately, because the film deals with magic, there is a way, perhaps, of turning Heath into other people.â€
So what will happen? Who knows. What should happen? I think they should try as hard as they can to finish the film without replacing him. Hell, turn the movie into a homage for Heath Ledger and have someone else play his remaining scenes. Terry Gilliam sure has a tough decision on his hands.