Date of Birth: November 22, 1940
Terry Gilliam was the member of Monty Python's Flying Food Circus you never saw—he drew the sublimely perverse cartoons that punctuated each episode of the BBC cult show. So it's no surprise that his wonderfully warped mind has since created some of the most visually enthralling films of the past two decades.
The sole American Python, Gilliam originally hailed from Minnesota. He was drawing for the satirical magazine Help! when he met future Python John Cleese, who was touring a comedy revue in the U.S. Deciding to bum around Europe for a while, Gilliam contacted Cleese on his arrival in England. From there Python was born.
Gilliam shared directing credits for Monty Python And The Holy Grail with fellow Python Terry Jones (he also played King Arthur's coconut shell-clacking lackey/horse, Patsy). His first solo effort, Jabberwocky, was a so-so adaptation of the Lewis Carroll poem. But four years later Gilliam proved himself with the "grown up" children's fantasy, Time Bandits.
Brazil, Gilliam's first big-budget Hollywood film, was a visual masterpiece that proved a bit too dark for mainstream Hollywood. Gilliam fought studio executives over the final cut (they wanted a happy ending) and in the end won two Academy Award Nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Art Direction—and a reputation as "difficult."
His next film, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, was his most eccentric and visually sumptuous film yet. It was also an expensive flop. He redeemed himself (in Hollywood's eyes, anyway) with 1991's The Fisher King. The film was helped tremendously by Robin Williams' Oscar nominated performance and box office clout.
Between The Fisher King and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Gilliam directed 12 Monkeys, a visually and narratively intricate thriller starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. "I actually go out of my way to make films that are hard to define," says Gilliam.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2011)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
12 Monkeys (1995)
The Fisher King (1991)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)
Spies Like Us (actor) (1985)
Monty Python's Meaning of Life (1983)
Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1982)
Time Bandits (1981)
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
Pleasure At Her Majesty's (1976)
Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)