Director Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Twelve Monkeys) is returning to the sci-fi genre with his new film project, The Zero Theorem. Actor Christoph Waltz is attached to play the character of Qohen Leth, who is described as “an eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst.” Waltz will be replacing actor Billy Bob Thornton, who was previously attached to the role.
Gilliam has been working on The Zero Theorem since he finished The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2009. After doing publicity for Parnassus, Gilliam later scrapped the project to re-work on his long-troubled production of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. After rewrites from screenwriter Pat Rushin, Gilliam rekindled his love for The Zero Theorem and decided to pick it up again.
The Zero Theorem is set in an Orwellian world where secret “mancams” serve the mysterious shadowy figure known as Management. Qohen Leth (Waltz) works endlessly to figure out a theorem to discover the purpose of existence, while his love interest, Bainsley, often visits him with the promise of “tantric biotelemetric interfacing” (virtual sex). The character of Bob, a rebellious teenage genius who is the son of Management, also visits Leth to distract him from his work. It actually sounds like Gilliam’s Brazil mixed with the imagination and crazy imagery of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Christoph Waltz will follow up Django Unchained with The Zero Theorem. Waltz gained instant stardom for his Academy Award-winning performance as Col. Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. He also appeared in Roman Polanski’s Carnage and Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants in 2011.
The Zero Theorem will start principal photography this October at Mediapro Studios in Romania. The release date for the film has not been set yet, but if everything goes well — which is asking for a lot considering Gilliam’s track record — look for it in theaters sometime 2013.