Starring Sean Connery, and co-written and directed by the one and only Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits told the story of a young boy named Kevin, who goes on an adventure through space and time with six little people determined to rob from history’s greats, while on the run from The Supreme Being, whose map of “time holes” they have stolen, and Evil himself. Here are some facts about the movie that aren’t evil, so you can touch them.
1. TERRY GILLIAM FIRST CAME UP WITH THE IDEA IN 1979.
Gilliam wanted to do an entire film from a kid’s point of view. The only problem was he felt he needed to give the protagonist child a group of people of similar height to surround him, because a kid couldn’t carry an entire movie. He combined those thoughts with the concept of committing crimes while time traveling, making it possible to get away with the thievery because it had not happened yet.
2. GILLIAM WANTED TO MAKE BRAZIL FIRST, BUT WASN’T ALLOWED TO.
Gilliam and the other members of Monty Python, along with former Beatle George Harrison, created a production company called HandMade Films, and installed their manager Denis O’Brien as the head of the company. O’Brien never understood Brazil, so "out of frustration" Gilliam came up with a family-friendly idea O’Brien couldn’t pass up. During his successful pitch of Time Bandits to O’Brien, Gilliam acted out the entire outline.
3. GEORGE HARRISON MORTGAGED HIS OFFICE BUILDING TO FINANCE THE FILM.
No studio wanted to make Time Bandits, so Harrison and O’Brien funded the filming for the necessary $5 million. Even though the film ended up being a financial and commercial success, Harrison was frustrated with Gilliam’s stubbornness, as evident by the lyrics to Harrison’s song “Dream Away,” which the musician wrote for Time Bandits and plays at the end of the movie. Harrison even once told Gilliam he reminded him of John Lennon—because he was so difficult and “bolshie.”
4. GILLIAM AND MICHAEL PALIN WROTE FOR AGAMEMNON TO BE "SEAN CONNERY OR AN ACTOR OF EQUAL BUT CHEAPER STATURE" IN THEIR SCRIPT, NEVER BELIEVING THEY WOULD ACTUALLY GET SEAN CONNERY.
In the early 1980s, Connery’s career was, as Gilliam described it, “at its nadir,” and Denis O’Brien was a golf partner of the former James Bond. Even more fortunately, Connery was a fan of the Pythons and signed up.
5. CRAIG WARNOCK WAS CAST AFTER GOING WITH HIS BROTHER TO HIS AUDITION.
6. MICHAEL PALIN WANTED TO PLAY ROBIN HOOD.
O’Brien wanted a bigger star for the most potential financial success, so John Cleese was called in instead. Palin wrote himself in as Vincent as a consolation.
7. CONNERY TOOK CONTROL ON THE FIRST DAY OF SHOOTING.
Gilliam hadn’t directed in years, and his first day back behind the camera took place on top of a mountain .. in Morocco ... in 130-degree heat. After struggling to get things right, Connery helped by strongly suggesting to his director that he shoot his parts first and let him leave before working with Warnock, who was living through his first day ever on a movie set. Connery also informed Gilliam they would deal with the star actually getting on the horse during post-production.
8. RALPH RICHARDSON TOOK PLAYING "SUPREME BEING" VERY SERIOUSLY.
He changed a bunch of his lines. When crossing out what Gilliam and Palin had written for him in red ink, he would sometimes say “God wouldn’t say that” while doing so.
9. THE LITTLE PEOPLE WERE WRITTEN BASED ON THE PERSONALITIES OF THE ACTORS.
For example, the character of Randall saw himself as the leader, as did David Rappaport, the actor who played him. Unfortunately for Rappaport, he also was gradually disliked by some of the other actors—among them Kenny Baker (Fidgit), better known as the man inside R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies—for not associating with them off-camera. Gilliam and Palin noticed this, and when they needed a new scene, it inspired them to write the part where the others turn on Randall.
10. GILLIAM ACCIDENTALLY JUMPED AND LANDED ON SHELLEY DUVALL.
The director was demonstrating how safe it was to jump off a scaffold by jumping off of it himself. Gilliam meant to land around Palin and Duvall (she played Pansy in her first role after shooting The Shining), but instead landed on Duvall’s head. She recalled the experience to Roger Ebert in December of 1980, telling the famed film critic, "I could have been paralyzed. As it is, there's just a pain that comes through my ears to my eye, and then goes away." The pain recurred about twice a week, for two minutes.
11. FIDGIT DIED SO CONNERY COULD LIVE.
Agamemnon was supposed to lead the group of archers and be crushed by the falling column. Connery could only film for 14 days though, so it was rewritten for Fidgit to take the fall.
12. CONNERY ENDED UP FIGURING OUT A WAY TO RETURN AGAIN.
Back at their first meeting, Connery told Gilliam he thought it would be great if he played the firefighter at the end. When the initial ending for Time Bandits wasn’t satisfactory enough for Gilliam, he remembered what his star said. And managed to convince Connery, who happened to be back in London to see his accountant that day, to go into the studio for two quick shots in a firefighter’s outfit. The scene wasn’t even written until a month later.
13. GILLIAM HAD TO FIGHT TO BLOW UP THE PARENTS.
O’Brien was only convinced that the violent ending could stay after an advance screening of the movie was held for an audience full of children. The first child who was asked what his favorite moment of the film was excitedly proclaimed, “The parents being blown up!”
14. A SCENE WHERE THE BANDITS TRY TO ROB A BANK IN 22ND-CENTURY LONDON WAS CUT.
In a scene that didn’t make it into the final film, Og (Mike Edmonds) got entangled by a tendril that dragged him into a cave. The tendril turned out to be yarn from two eight-footed old women who are knitting spider webs to capture knights. The scene was supposed to take place before the Bandits enter the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. The footage has supposedly since been destroyed.
15. THERE HAS BEEN TALK OF A SEQUEL SINCE 1996.
Two drafts of a script for Time Bandits II were written. Then, in 2001, the Hallmark Channel announced it was bringing the movie back as a four-hour miniseries, but nothing ever came of it. In 2006, there was talk of the story continuing in comic book form, on the same day that the proposed comic book publisher’s dissolution was announced. Most recently, in April, Gilliam again mentioned that he was involved in a TV series based on the movie.