Joaquin Phoenix in Talks to Star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Untitled Religious Drama

     April 12, 2011

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After discovering that no one really cared about his retirement from acting or about the movie about his fake meltdown, Joaquin Phoenix may be getting back into the moving pictures (even though he never really left it).  Variety reports that Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to join Philip Seymour Hoffman in Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled religious drama.  The story is based on the founding of Scientology and has Hoffman playing “Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic intellectual known as The Master” who creates a new religion, but eventually comes into conflict with his chief disciple.  Phoenix would play the disciple, Freddie Sutton, “an alcholic drifter who becomes his right-hand man only to begin questioning his manipulative mentor.”

Last fall, the film—unofficially referred to as “The Master“—looked dead, but then this past February, Megan Ellison came to rescue not only of this film, but also Anderson’s planned adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.  Hit the jump for my thoughts on Phoenix joining The Master.

While I found Phoenix’s fake retirement to be an interesting experiment that didn’t really pan out into anything worthwhile, I’ve always found him to be a talented actor who, when given the right direction and a well-written role, can deliver the goods.  He’s also in need of some career rehab and a juicy role in an Anderson flick could be just the trick to get him back on track.  No one does damaged, angry, and down-and-out like Phoenix and while audiences rejected I’m Still Here, I think that he can still be embraced as an actor, especially if he’s sharing the screen with another talented thespian like Hoffman.

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