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"Christopher Plummer was the first one we cast, I think,” explains Gilliam. "He's a great actor. He's theatrical, he's of a certain age, and he has been a huge star. His daughter Amanda Plummer worked in ‘The Fisher King' with me and there's an interesting relationship with him and his real daughter. What's fantastic about Christopher is that his theatrical sense proved to be absolutely perfect for the character – and the fact that he wanted to find the humour in the character all the time.”

"I seem to be playing the title character in the movie,” muses Plummer. "Not the Imaginarium itself, but Doctor Parnassus. Terry Gilliam called me out of the blue and said ‘I'd like you to play my title creature – it's a wonderful old man.' I thought he probably called because there are very few old men left who are actors who can actually speak – and I'm one of them. I get luckier every year, because they get fewer and fewer and, as long as I'm still kicking and alive, I can report for duty. And so I said yes.

"I don't know what I did with Parnassus. He tended every now and then to be very melodramatically written, so, seeing how colourful and busy the sets were and all the other creatures in the film were moving around a great deal, because Terry likes movement, I decided to try to play Parnassus rather still and introspective, rather than outwardly melodramatic. I think it works, because he has an inner sorrow – the fact that he's betrayed his daughter with the devil. I think that that balances him – it isn't just all silly fantasy. There has to be some sort of dark and tragic side to this movie that can be dealt with in a light way, but nevertheless it's there.”

Gilliam continues: "A Dutch animator was trying to get in touch with Tom Waits (whom I consider to be America's greatest musical poet) and asked me if I'd send Tom a script of his, which I did. It was the first contact I'd had with Tom in several years. He turned down my friend, but asked ‘have you got anything going for me?' And I said ‘well, there is this interesting part in my new film….' and that was it. I said I'd got a part and he said ‘I'm in'. Before he'd read the script.”

"I play the devil,” explains Waits. "I don't play a devil or somebody who's kind of evil. I play the devil. It's kind of a curious conundrum – how do you play the devil? How do you play an archetype that large, that deep in history? I finally realised that I was just going to have to play it myself – it's my devil. It's the way I play the devil. So I hope I've been doing what Terry expected. I hope I've been exceeding his expectations. I'm not always sure that I am, but I hope I am.”

"When we were looking for our Valentina, Irene Lamb, who was casting the film, said ‘you've got to see Lily Cole',” remembers Gilliam. "So we did a little screen test and bingo, it was done! I just wanted somebody who was extraordinary looking to begin with, and I wanted somebody who was able to look sixteen. The reality is that when we began shooting with Lily, I thought I might have made a mistake, because she was so inexperienced and was surrounded by such great actors. But she rose to the occasion and just got better and better. The end result is an absolutely wonderful performance.”

"It feels like a lot of hard work,” admitted Cole on location. "But it's really rewarding and Terry's got a really good heart. All the people that are involved have a really good heart, so there's always been a very positive atmosphere to work in and very collaborative. It doesn't feel as though there are any egos fighting. There's no hierarchy, as Terry will joke – even though there is. There's that attitude which encourages everyone to give their input, which really is an amazing, special thing.

"It feels very, very different from modellin

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