Wednesday 18 September 2019

Terry Gilliam: I disagree with John Cleese’s worldview

The director spoke about his political views.

Terry Gilliam does not agree with his friend John Cleese (Ian West/PA)
Terry Gilliam does not agree with his friend John Cleese (Ian West/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

Terry Gilliam disagrees with the way his friend John Cleese sees the world.

The Monty Python animator and Hollywood director despairs of Donald Trump and Brexit, both of which make him “terminally depressed”.

Comic star Cleese has previously voiced his support for the UK leaving the EU, and has attracted controversy for his comments about the identity of London.

Gilliam, speaking to Radio Times magazine, said that the only public figure he can trust in the current political climate is Sir David Attenborough.

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John Cleese has voiced support for Brexit (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The director criticised the political correctness of contemporary comedy, but stopped short of supporting his friend’s view of the world.

He said: “I’m the instinctive, monosyllabic American and he’s the tall, very suave one.

“I love John enormously but I just disagree with the way he perceives the world.”

Gilliam said that his friend, no matter his views, had always been funny.

He said: “John has never changed, he’s just got fat, that’s all.”

The former animator, who renounced his US citizenship, said that he and Cleese are on the opposite extremes of the Monty Python group.

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The Monty Python gang in their earlier years (PA)

Gilliam, who achieved critical recognition for his work on Brazil, Time Bandits, and 12 Monkeys, does not approve of controls on comedy.

The director has criticised attempts to diversify writing rooms and police the material of comedians.

He said: “It doesn’t have anything to do with gender, sex or anything.

“Good writing is what it’s about, and that’s why you hire people, not because they’re this colour or that gender.

“‘Is it funny?’ is the only thing that should be asked.

“Comedians are treading carefully and this is terrible.

“I really want some comedians to really go for it again, but people are frightened of saying the wrong thing, of causing offence.”

The director said that although talents in Monty Python had an Oxbridge background, their material pushed diversity, and attacked the established order.

The full interview with Gilliam can be read in Radio Times magazine, out now.

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