The Many Faces of Tony Shepard

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is the last movie from Heath Ledger. Not The Dark Knight like so many people assume. After Ledger’s tragic death, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was left unfinished. Fortunately, the movie was just weird enough to come up with an unusual solution. Director Terry Gilliam is known for bizarre imaginative storytelling. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was meant to mirror his own life as an aging director slowly losing his audience. Any reference to untimely death is a coincidence since the producer also died during filming. The titular Doctor Parnassus became immortal after one too many deals with the Devil.

Christopher Plummer plays the elderly showrunner of an old fashioned traveling stage show. Tom Waits is the creepy devil Mr. Nick. British model Lily Cole plays Parnassus’ busty teenage daughter Valentina. Verne Troyer finally has a significant role as dwarf assistant Percy. Though I could do without the blackface. This was the earliest I’ve seen Andrew Garfield as a young hype man named Anton. Spider-Man develops a rivalry with the Joker after the latter is rescued from being hanged. Ledger plays the mysterious Tony Shepard who has amnesia and may or may not be a decent man. Though he is charming and endearing much like Ledger was. The titular Imaginarium was the perfect way to finish the film.

The on-stage mirror enters a colorful dream world that brings a person’s imagination to life while also giving them temptations. A body double stood in for Ledger whenever he wore a theater mask. With most scenes filmed in the real world, it only made sense to recast Ledger in the Imaginarium. Ledger is recast three separate times with big name actors like Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. All of whom ironically ended up in a Fantastic Beasts movie. Tony transforms into Depp, Law, and Farrell thanks to his visits inside the Imaginarium. Each actor has their own style and screen time, but they all try their best to honor Ledger. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a surprisingly fitting send off for an actor gone too soon.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Tony introduces Dr. Parnassus

2 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Tony Shepard

  1. I saw a part of this a while back and thought it was strange, even for Terry Gilliam, and believe me I enjoy Monty Python strange. It was very creative how Gilliam worked around Ledger’s untimely passing and not take away from what Ledger already filmed. The best for me was learning that Depp, Law, and Farrell all insisted their salaries for the film be put into a college fund for Ledger’s baby daughter, a class act all the way that more actors/actresses should be following example of. I remember in one of Verne Troyer’s last interviews him saying how proud he was of his work in the film and how well it turned out.

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