January 5, 1996
Web posted at: 11 p.m. EST
From Entertainment Correspondent Bill Tush
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Mention the name Terry Gilliam, and fans of Monty Python films will recall the American member of the British comedy troup for his dramatically unusual animations. But while Gilliam may be known for the Python films, he's also been creating a number of unique films on his own, as director.
His latest, "Twelve Monkeys," stars Bruce Willis as a prisoner in the cold, bleak future who travels back in time. The Willis character attempts to prevent an evil force from unleashing a virus that will wipe out much of the Earth's population. During his journey, Willis meets a mental patient who may be the culprit of the virus.
The disturbed patient is played by Brad Pitt. Soon after encountering Pitt, Willis begins to wonder if maybe he, too, is nuts. And in the middle of the two men, there's a beautiful psychiatrist. If the movie sounds complex, Willis says it's just part of what makes Gilliam a good director.
"He's a great storyteller," says Willis. "And he's not satisfied with telling stories in a straight line. And I think a lot of actors are drawn to that kind of film. It certainly is different from anything I've ever done." (99K AIFF sound or 99K WAV sound)
Different might be one way to describe a Gilliam film, but critically acclaimed might be more appropriate. His 1989 extravaganza "Baron Munchausen" and 1991's "The Fisher King" received nine Oscar nominations in total.
But despite raves from critics, neither of his previous films could be called a box office blockbuster. And with "Twelve Monkeys" so different from the standard Hollywood fare, Gilliam might have had a difficult time selling it to studio executives. Fortunately for Gilliam, he didn't have to.
"The script was at Universal," he says, "so they came to me and they said: 'Here's the guy who can probably pull it off.'" (204K AIFF sound or 204K WAV sound)
Despite its complexity, "Monkeys" will probably have a better chance at the box office than many other films. One reason might be that two of the biggest stars in film today are in the film. The star power of Willis and Pitt may attract movie-goers who normally avoid this type of film.
But this director doesn't want to bank on stars to sell tickets. Gilliam believes that movies are not solely dependent on the stars in them.
"I think the system is shaking up a bit," he says. "The system is less secure about what works and what doesn't work. I think audiences are looking for something new, and I hope this is one of those films."
But only the box office can show just how successful a dark, complex drama starring two Hollywood hunks will be.
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