Jeremy Renner, the Oscar-nominated star of Best Picture-winner The Hurt Locker, is reportedly in the works to join Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) in the cast of Paul Thomas Anderson’s (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood) newest project. According to Deadline, Renner is in talks to take up the role of “a young drifter who becomes [Hoffman's] right hand man but begins to question his mentor (Once again, Hoffman) and the whole belief thing.”
Renner and Hoffman are both terrific character actors and with PTA’s reputation for making sublime character studies (see: There Will Be Blood, Magnolia), the movie sounds destined to be fantastic.
Hit the jump for more details on the project and its controversial script.
Details from an early version of Anderson’s script have been making the rounds online. From all indications, including a brilliant synopsis on The Playlist, the story focuses on an L. Ron Hubbard-esque figure (Hoffman) as he builds a Scientology-like cult/religion. The character is referred to as “The Master.” The part Renner is apparently looking to play is that of Freddie Sutton, a volatile drunk who finds his way aboard The Master’s boat after committing a violent crime. In time, Freddie becomes The Master’s right hand man, but then “Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.” The Playlist synopsis also adds:
“The tenebrous enigmatic story does have strange, noteworthy and twisted scenes of sex, incest, polygamy, adultery and wild flashes of rancor from the Master that Daniel Plainview himself would be proud of. [...] One hypnosis-like scene where a woman regresses to a pre-natal time when she is back in the womb and remembers her father having sex with her mother is particularly creepy and striking.”
All indications are that the leaked version of the script is clearly a very early draft with holes in plot and dialogue that need to be filled. That’s a problem because despite sounding like an award-magnet, Universal reportedly will not approve the film’s 35 million dollar budget without seeing a completed script. So for now, it appears that PTAs religious movie is in limbo.