Few directors have dined out on conflict the way Terry Gilliam has. Just about every film by the American-born Monty Python animator – from his 1984-ish masterpiece “Brazil” to his forever-in -the-making “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” – has run into trouble: money trouble, studio heads insisting on shorter running times and happier endings, even a torrential flood.
But fighting for his art in sometimes sly ways, he delivered some of the most strikingly original films of his era, among them “Time Bandits,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and “12 Monkeys” – and, of course, “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.” We spoke in 1985 when he came to Chicago to promote “Brazil,” which required all of his wiles to get released in America in its original version. “A lot of what we’re doing is in unknown territory,” he says. “You don’t know how far you can push an audience.”