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Terry Gilliam

  1. Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, 1971.    UK author Roald Dahl’s original choice to play his eccentric chocolatier was BBC radio Goon Spike Milligan. Next? Spike’s co-Goon Peter Sellers was too expensive. LA’s choice, Joel Grey, was “not physically imposing enough.” Ron Moody would have frightened the horses - and the kids. UK comic Frankie Howerd was into two film farces. Jon Pertwee was wed to Doctor Who. Carry On stars Sidney James and Kenneth Williams were as keen as (a way too old) Fred Astaire. One by one, all six Monty Pythons (Gilliam, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin) were judged not international enough - and Howerd, Milligan and Pertwee were?! Cleese, Idle and Palin were offered the 2005 re-hash; Chapman having died and Gilliam and Jones  turned director.
  2.  Rowan Atkinson, The Lion King, 1993.  In the mix to voice Zazu in the 32nd Disney toon - Bambi meets Hamlet in Africa! - were Chris Barrie, Simon Callow, David Jason, Spike Milligan, Vic Reeves, Patrick Stewart. Plus various UK comedy giants: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; The Two Ronnies: Barker and Ronnie Corbett; The Goodies: Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Bill Odie; and the Monty Pythons: Gilliam, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin.

  3. Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.
    A major Monty P fan, director Tim Burton mused over the surviving Pythons Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin for chocolatier Willy Wonka. (They were also up for the 1970 version). Burton’s 27 other fancies: his ole Betelgeuse, Michael Keaton, plus Dan Aykroyd, Rowan Atkinson, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken and Robin Williams Depp found Willy’s voice from imagining a stoned George W Bush! Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy - Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!




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