PAUL GREENWOOD talked to The Zero Theorem director Terry Gilliam when he previewed the film at the Glasgow Film Festival ...

Could most of the scripts that come your way be described as Gilliam-esque?

I don't even have a Hollywood agent anymore, because they kept sending me stuff that was terrible.

And then Pat Rushin's script came to me and I thought it was full of great ideas.

I loved the idea of a guy trying to get away from the world.

And it was also clear that he's watched every film I'd ever made! There were to references to everything in there, not just Brazil, and I thought I could do like a compendium.

At what point do you start thinking about the film in visual terms?

Because we had such a short shooting schedule and low budget, many of the ideas just come to you as you go, and each of these things starts creating a different line of the story.

It was a much greyer, grim and Kafkaesque world in the script, and I thought, let's have lots of colour. I don't want it grey, I want it happy and bustling.

And really the film is a love story at heart isn't it?

In post-production and editing, I start changing everything around and chuck away a lot of what was in the script.

But the thing that was so solid is this love story at the centre of it.

And then there's this second sort of paternal love story with the boy; Christoph's character is sort of rediscovering his humanity.

Why did you want to cast Christoph Waltz in the lead?

First of all, he's an extraordinary actor. And he's bankable! Which is the really important thing in acting these days.

His craft was honed over so many years and nobody noticed, and then suddenly, BOOM, you're world famous! I knew there was this well of anger and frustration just waiting to be worked on.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a short shooting schedule?

There are no advantages! It was utter madness what we were doing, trying to get it done in five weeks. All departments were working overtime, because we only Christoph up to a certain date, and then he was gone.

Things that should have taken three days had to be done overnight.

Although it does take a certain onus off you to be perfect, and it makes you make decisions very quickly, it was the most exhausting thing I've ever done.

What's your philosophy on creative control?

Total! If I don't have creative control, I won't do it. It's real simple. I've basically had it on all my films, sometimes contractually, sometimes politically, but I don't know how to work otherwise.

It's not for me to have total control, it's for me to be able to put up a perimeter around the creative team so we have control of it, and not a bunch of nervous executives worried about their careers.

Do you spend much time considering your body of work?

I don't look at it, because every time I do I get depressed. Everybody tells me how good it is and then I look at it and I only see the mistakes.

I can't tell you what I think about this film, but the one thing I can always guarantee is my films won't work for everyone.