Johnny Depp is expected to play opposite his real-life partner Vanessa Paradis for the first time in Terry Gilliam's £20m plus The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Screendaily, March 17).

Depp, who along with Paradis is in serious talks to board the project according to sources involved with the production, would play Sancho Panza, the servant of Don Quixote, a wandering knight who battles both windmills and reality itself. In a twist on Miguel de Cervantes' 17th Century classic, Depp's character is a modern-day advertising executive who travels back in time to meet Don Quixote, who believes that he is Sancho Panza.

Paradis would play Aldonza, who in the novel is a kitchen-wench that Don Quixote sees as the most beautiful woman the world. French veteran Jean Rochefort is in advanced talks to play the Don.

The production, which would re-unite Depp and Gilliam after Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, is thought to be the largest-scale picture backed by the UK National Lottery to date. Lottery administrator the Arts Council of England, which is handing over control of lottery funding to the government's film superbody the Film Council, announced that UK studio franchise Pathe Pictures has been awarded lottery cash worth £2m for the production.

The project's other European backers include Le Studio Canal Plus, French production outfit Hachette Premiere and German film fund KC Medien.

Pathe Pictures is aiming for a September shoot in the UK and Spain. France's Rene Cleitman is producing, while Los Angeles-based sales operation Pathe International is handling international sales.