Biography of Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam is a British screenwriter, director, animator, and comedian. He got his start in the entertainment business as a member of the famous British comedy group Monty Python. He is more widely known as an iconoclastic director of films that often include some elements of fantasy and imagination. His films have a darkly comic bent, and often feature a critique of bureaucratic political structures.

Gilliam was born in Minnesota and educated in Los Angeles, starting out as an animator, which is how he came into contact with Monty Python. He co-directed a few of their films, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1977, and directed Jabberwocky in 1977. As the Monty Python troupe began to dissipate following the release of The Meaning of Life in 1983, Gilliam turned to writing and directing, directing Time Bandits in 1981. His other films are Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Brothers Grimm, Tideland, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Zero Theorem, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

In his long career, Gilliam's films have often been nominated for Academy Awards, but the only nomination he received personally was as a screenwriter in 1986 for Brazil. He once said, about filmmaking, "As a child, I always drew funny creatures, funny characters. But I think the trick is not to grow up, not to learn to be an adult. And if you can maintain the kind of imagination you all had when you were babies, you would all be wonderful filmmakers. But the world tries to make you grow up, to stop imagining, stop fantasizing, stop playing in your mind. And I’ve worked hard to not let the world educate me."

Study Guides on Works by Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam's masterwork Brazil (1985), starring Jonathon Pryce and Robert De Niro, tells the story of a low-level bureaucrat named Sam Lowry (played by Pryce) and his attempt to escape the monotony of his day-to-day life through a recurring...

The Fisher King is a comedy-drama movie released in 1991 to critical acclaim. It was written by Richard LaGravanese and directed by Terry Gilliam and was the first movie that Gilliam directed that he had not also written. It was also the first...