Waits plays the devil, Mr. Nick, in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a role that Gilliam says he was “born to play.” Doctor Parnassus and his sideshow troupe promise their audience a trip to “The Imaginarium,” where dreams come true. He pledges to give his daughter Valentina to the devil on her 16th birthday, in return for loving a mortal woman. The time is near and they work to save her from her fate. Co-starring Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell.
Gilliam and I met on Fisher King. He is a giant among men and I am in awe of his films. [The Adventures of Baron] Munchausen I’ve seen a hundred times. Brazil is a crowning achievement. Brothers Grimm was my favorite film last year. I had most of my scenes with Christopher Plummer (He’s Dr. Parnassus). Plummer is one of the greatest actors on earth! Mostly I watch and learn. He’s a real movie star and a gentleman. Gilliam is an impresario, captain, magician, a dictator (a nice one), a genius, and a man you’d want in the boat with you at the end of the world.
Waits plays the Wanderer in Tony Scott’s Domino. The movie is based on the true-life story of Domino Harvey, daughter of actor Laurence Harvey, a Ford model who gives up modeling and becomes a bounty hunter. Co-starring Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke. On why he took the part:
They won me in a poker game.
Waits plays Renfield, Count Dracula’s bug-eating minion, in this Francis Ford Coppola adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula. Count Dracula comes to Victorian England seeking his reincarnated love, now engaged to Jonathan Harker. Co-starring Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins.
I did not actually eat the bugs. And I’ll say that because I’ve lied to other people and told them I did eat the bugs. I didn’t want anybody to think I didn’t have the courage to eat insects. What I really did was put ’em in my mouth and give them kind of a funhouse ride. Uhhh – move them around, let them walk along the jagged cliff of my teeth. And then I brought them back out again. A lot of them wanted to buy a ticket and go right back in for another ride. It was only mealworms – but there were a lot of spiders. I was working with insects. I’ve been in show business for 25 years, and I’m working with insects.