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Will Johnny Depp Replace Heath Ledger in Ridiculous New Gilliam Movie?

Photo: Getty Images

Oft-reliable British tabloid The Sun reports today on unsubstantiated rumors that Johnny Depp could replace Heath Ledger in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Terry Gilliam's in-production fantasy movie which Ledger's death threw into uncertainty this week. According to a "studio source": "There is a point in the film when Heath falls through a magic mirror. He could change into another character after that and that is where Johnny would come in."

But for as ridiculous as that sounds, the Times this morning has details on why such a switch might actually work. Apparently the film's "earthbound exterior" portions were all completed in London this month and last, and the rest of the movie — about a traveling carnival that "offers audience members the chance to transcend reality by passing through a magical mirror" — was to be shot on a Vancouver soundstage, incorporating special effects for its more fantastical scenes. So, any radical changes to the appearance of Ledger's character could probably be explained away as magic or something. Also, The Sun says that Depp isn't working right now, so he might just do it as a favor to Gilliam, with whom he remains friends despite the way Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas turned out.

Another reason this could work: None of Terry Gilliam's movies make any damn sense anyway!

Johnny to be Heath stand-in [The Sun]
Actor's Death May Mean Film's End [NYT]
Earlier: Terry Gilliam's Heath Ledger Movie: What Now?
New Terry Gilliam Movie Apparently Product of Random Terry Gilliam Movie Generator