Trailer for Heath Ledger in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus first caught my attention because it was the movie Heath Ledger was filming when he died. At the time director Terry Gilliam was only 1/3 of the way done with filming, so the project took a break while he figured out how to finish without the star. Turns out he came up with a fairly cool solution: he case Johnny Depp, Colin Ferrell, and Jude Law to play Ledger’s character at different points in the movie. Fortunately the film’s plot is unusual enough to support such a tactic.

The plot centers around 1,000-year-old Dr. Parnassus, the leader of a traveling theater group. The doctor gained great skill in capturing audiences’ imaginations making a deal with the devil. When the devil comes to collect on their bargain, an outsider joins the troupe and helps the doctor, traveling through parallel universes to do so. A little odd, isn’t it. The cool part is that Ledger’s character is the outsider, Tony, and the other actors will portray Tony in the parallel universes. So that actually kind of makes sense. But the REALLY cool part is that The Devil is played by…TOM WAITS! Awesome.

Check out the trailer for a glimpse of the oddness to follow, and for a sneak peak at Waits playing The Devil:

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus comes to theaters Christmas Day.