For the past five years, Terry Gilliam has been trying to make a mysterious film called The Zero Theorem, about a cubicle-dwelling man who's trying to solve an equation that holds the purpose of existence. (Or lack thereof.) We'd thought Zero Theorem was dead in the water back in 2009, when Billy Bob Thornton was supposed to star. But now, it turns out Gilliam's making the film after all, with Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) in the lead role.
Zero Theorem was written by Pat Rushin, an English professor at University of Central Florida who's published a number of literary short stories and one story collection. The Deadline article that reports Waltz's casting also includes a brand new plot synopsis:
The Zero Theorem is set in a world that seems right in Gilliam's wheelhouse. Living in an Orwellian corporate world where "mancams" serve as the eyes of a shadowy figure known only as Management, Leth (Waltz) works on a solution to the strange theorem while living as a virtual cloistered monk in his home-the shattered interior of a fire-damaged chapel. His isolation and work are interrupted now and then by surprise visits from Bainsley, a flamboyantly lusty love interest who tempts him with "tantric biotelemetric interfacing" (virtual sex) and Bob. Latter is the rebellious whiz-kid teenage son of Management who, with a combination of insult-comedy and an evolving true friendship, spurs on Qohen's efforts at solving the theorem. But these visits turn out to be intentional diversions orchestrated by Management to keep control of Qohen's progress. Bob creates a virtual reality "inner-space" suit that will carry Qohen on an inward voyage, a close encounter with the hidden dimensions and truth of his own soul, wherein lie the answers both he and Management are seeking. The suit and supporting computer technology will perform an inventory of Qohen's soul, either proving or disproving the Zero Theorem.
This sounds like it could be the dark, twisted Gilliam movie we've been waiting years for. [Deadline]