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Monty Python's Terry Gilliam Calls Reunion 'Depressing'

"We worked so hard to get careers beyond it... and now we’re being dragged back again," says director

Terry Gilliam
Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
May 16, 2014 12:30 PM ET

Terry Gilliam is reportedly having a hard time getting excited about reuniting with the other members of the pioneering comedy troupe Monty Python. "I find it depressing that we’re getting back together again," he said in a recent interview with the London Evening Standard. "We worked so hard to get careers beyond it, to get to this stage, and now we’re being dragged back again."

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After the group's final performance together in 1980, Gilliam – the American-born member of the group who made its cheeky animations and co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Meaning of Life – established himself as an innovative filmmaker. He sharpened his creative visions in movies like Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, earned an Academy Award nomination for Brazil and won a BAFTA Academy membership in the process. (He had previously won a BAFTA special award for his graphics on Monty Python's sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus.)

"It’s good, seeing each other again, but then you realize that we’re not as sharp because we like each other more  probably," he said. "There’s none of the tension that existed before, which was what seemed to fuel the stuff. It’s harder to do comedy now anyway: we’re older, we’ve become the establishment we took the piss out of." Moreover, he said, "In the end, we sold out."

Gilliam did not hold back about the reasons for selling out either. Last year, the group lost a high-court dispute about royalties for the Python-themed theatrical musical Spamalot. He then cited the individual members' personal matters. "Then there was John [Cleese] with his divorce payments,” Gilliam said. "And Terry Jones’s mortgage was a legitimate concern." The Standard reported he snorted with laughter after that sentence.

The whole exchange came up when the Standard asked about Gilliam's busy schedule in relation to a production of Hector Berlioz's opera Benvenuto Cellini that he is co-directing and his long-in-the-works movie The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. "It’s too big a year of work," he said. "I’m not going to survive it. With any luck, the Python shows will be cancelled."

Monty Python have booked a run of gigs (shows they don't intend to rehearse until a week before the first, Gilliam says) at London's O2 Arena, beginning in July. One of the shows will get a worldwide broadcast in movie theaters on July 20th. They have named the show "Monty Python Live (Mostly)," a title which seemed to reference the 1989 passing of member Graham Chapman prior to Gilliam's comments.

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