Joaquin Phoenix Joins Paul Thomas Anderson’s Untitled Religious Drama; The Weinstein Company to Distribute Film Worldwide

     May 9, 2011

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After looking rather dead last September, Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled religious drama was resurrected this past February when producer Megan Ellison (True Grit) and her Annapurna Productions came on board to finance the picture.  Deadline now reports that Joaquin Phoenix has been confirmed play Freddie Sutton, an alcoholic drifter who becomes right-hand man to Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic intellectual known as The Master (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who’s been attached to the film from the beginning). Earlier drafts of the story were overtly based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, but that has reportedly changed.   According to Deadline, “[Anderson] has greatly overhauled the script and now, Hoffman stars as a man who returns after witnessing the horrors of WWII and tries to rediscover who he is in post-war America. He creates a belief system, something that catches on with other lost souls.”

Deadline is also reporting that Anderson is now considering actresses Madisen Beaty (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Amy Adams, Lena Endre (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Laura Dern for roles in the film.  Hit the jump for more details on this exciting production.

In addition to the exciting casting news surrounding the film, Deadline reports that The Weinstein Company has picked up the worldwide distribution rights to the film.  Due to its subject matter, the movie is likely to be controversial, which makes it a good fit for TWC, a company that doesn’t shy away from controversy and whenever possible uses controversy in its marketing.

Production on the film is set to begin June 13th, which seems like it would automatically nix Adams from the film since she’ll be busy playing Lois Lane in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.  But even if the movie doesn’t get Adams, it still has two strong lead actors and the brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson at the helm for what is easily one of my most-anticipated films.

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