In the above photograph, we see Terry Gilliam on-location during the Jabberwocky filming (in which he was director) in a “planning mood.” Planning what, one asks? The answer may very well be that he was planning an intense scene for the movie…or, that he was planning on giving his pal a horrendous hack job as some kind of revenge. Sounds silly, right? Read on…
Bn addition to Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Mike and Eric appeared in several other films directed by Terry Gilliam, in particular Jabberwocky, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, respectively. In each individual picture, both Pythons are seen sporting less-than-desirable ‘dos, whether they be horrible haircuts or weird wigs. We have reason to believe that Gilliam has done this to his fellow Pythons out of sheer jealousy. Before you dismiss this as silly, please examine the following evidence:
Exhibit 1 – Eric as old Berthold, Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Pic #1: Young Berthold = Mmmm...
Pic #2: Old Berthold = Old Bozo??
In the Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Eric plays Berthold. Now, as a young man, Berthold is pretty hot-looking (see above left photo), but later on when his character ages and becomes old Berthold…well… I have to ask, what the hell was that?? The half-bald puffy hair…he looks like Bozo the Clown in dire need of Rogaine!! Poor Eric, having to shave his head for that monstrosity!
Just try to imagine for a moment: It’s 1989, Eric is surrounded by some of his friends in Hollywood and his wife Tania, treating them to a screening of Baron Munchausen. All goes well until he appears as old Berthold. Eyebrows raise, smirks form, and the entire room is engulfed in laughter. “So, I guess Bozo was your understudy for this part of the film?” becomes the line of the night. Tania jokingly calls him "Old Bozo." Eric blushes furiously, muttering angrily and cursing Gilliam under his breath.
Exhibit 2 – Mike as Dennis Cooper, Jabberwocky
Pic #1: Mike as Dennis... poor thing...
Pic #2: Attacked with hedge clippers?
Pic #3: Er…Oliver Valiant??
In Jabberwocky, Mike is the main character, Dennis Cooper, a meek fellow who carries a potato around with him and yearns for a rude, chubby girl named Griselda. Now, I know it was the Middle Ages, but did guys like Dennis really wear their hair like that?? Mike doesn’t look too bad in the beginning of the film (see above left photo), but as the film progresses it becomes more and more evident that he looks much like Oliver Cromwell. I can just picture Terry Gilliam creeping up on a hapless Mike, armed with a pair of hedge clippers to hack off his gorgeous locks (see above center photo). And just when you think it’s bad enough, it gets worse. At the end of the film (see above right photo) when Mike is betrothed to the princess, that atrocity upon his head looks like a cross between Oliver Cromwell and Prince Valiant!! What on earth is that??
Just picture Mike, finally returning home after filming Jabberwocky…his wife Helen opens the door, and a look of horror spreads across her face. She makes him wear a bag over his head until his hair grows back. He asks “why do I have to wear this bag on my head?” To which Helen answers “because you’re so wretchedly ugly like this, Michael!” and walks away. “I’ll get you for this, Gilliam,” Mike mumbles under the brown paper bag.
Conclusion: Was Gilly Jealous?
You’ve seen the evidence and read the background information. So, was Gilliam jealous of Eric and Mike? We happen to think so. It is a clear fact that both of them have gorgeous locks and are adored by droves of fans for it, while Gilly had to contend with that stringy stuff on his head. Plus, for Holy Grail, he insisted on a similarly silly hairdo (such as that of a kid who got a wad of gum stuck in his hair and had to have it cut out), while Mike and Eric looked positively drool-worthy…see photos below.
More evidence of Gilliam's jealousy?
It’s enough to make one wonder whether Eric and Mike taunted Gilliam about it during the Grail shooting. I speculate how many times he’d find them staring at him and giggling for no apparent reason. Whatever the cause, it’s easy to see that in some way, Gilly was jealous of Eric and Mike’s breathtaking hair. Still not convinced? Mike does admit on the Jabberwocky DVD commentary that his haircut is courtesy of Maggie, Gilliam’s wife. Now I wonder whose idea this was…?
Note: to all the Terry Gilliam fans who may be reading this with smoke coming out of their ears, please understand that this essay was written all in good fun. I have much respect for Terry and do not mean any of this as an insult. It’s all in the name of good fun and should not be taken seriously. So please don’t send me any angry emails, for they will just be ignored. Thanks.