Heath Ledger's final performance was screened at the Cannes Film Festival with a special dedication to the late star.
Ledger stars as Tony, a man who befriends a mysterious theater troupe that can travel to fantasy worlds, in Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Ledger died in January 2008 from an accidental overdose after completing a third of the film. Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law stepped in to play three incarnations of Ledger's character.
"I started calling friends — Johnny Depp, and he said, 'I'm there.' And I basically was just calling people who knew and loved Heath," Gilliam said in a press conference. "Everyone in the cast and everyone in the crew was determined that this film would be finished and everybody worked longer, harder, and somehow we got through. It was really ... people's love for Heath that propelled this thing forward."
Gilliam said he considered scrapping the picture altogether after Ledger's death, but was encouraged by others to finish Parnassus in the actor's memory. Ledger's relatives, who have yet to see the movie, also gave Gilliam their blessing to complete it. "Fortunately, I was surrounded by really good people who insisted that I shouldn't be such a lazy bastard," Gilliam said.
Screened out of competition, the movie was well-received by critics. It closes with the words, "A film from Heath Ledger and friends."
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