Director Terry Gilliam is feverishly working 24-hours-a-day to figure out how to keep Heath Ledger alive – on film, that is.
Twenty-eight-year-old Ledger was in the middle of shooting Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus when he died last Tuesday.
“Terry’s throwing himself into the job of trying to salvage the picture,” Ledger costar Christopher Plummer told PEOPLE Saturday. Earlier in the week, work on the film was halted and there were reports the director might re-cast the role or shelve the $30 million production entirely.
But Gilliam, whom Plummer described as “terribly, terribly saddened” by Ledger’s death is “trying to work out at this moment how to continue on. Fortunately, because the film deals with magic, there is a way, perhaps, of turning Heath into other people and then, using stills and I think they call it CGI.”
Plummer added: “Terry was a very good friend [of Ledger’s] … He very wants to go on with the movie, and I can very much understand why. Because he wants to dedicate it to Heath, of course.”
Ledger and Plummer both left the London portion of the shoot last weekend and were due to continue filming next week in Vancouver. “Heath was in very high spirits. He was just enjoying himself tremendously. He was really in very good spirits and very anxious to go on with the movie,” Plummer said of their departure.
Confirming earlier reports that Ledger hadn’t been feeling well on set, Plummer admitted many on set were sick. “We all caught colds because we were shooting outside on horrible, damp nights. But Heath’s went on and I don’t think he dealt with it immediately with the antibiotics.”
On top of that, “He was saying all the time, ‘Dammit, I can’t sleep,’ and he was taking all these pills [to help him]. I think he just made a ghastly mistake.”
Ledger would have appreciated the show-must-go-on mentality, added his costar. “He was terribly likable and obviously enormously talented … and the combination was terrific. It’s such a shame these things have to happen to the good one.”