Paul Thomas Anderson Talks THE MASTER; Unused Scenes from THERE WILL BE BLOOD Were Reworked for the Film [Updated with New Clip]

     August 20, 2012


The release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is less than a month away, but the level of teasing going on right now is almost cruel.  Anderson surprised viewers in Santa Monica with a secret premiere of the film a few weeks ago, and has subsequently had more unannounced screenings in Chicago and New York.  Word has been unsurprisingly positive, and Anderson has now finally spoken out a bit about the film’s development process and its ties to Scientology.  Hit the jump to see what he had to say. [Update: A new clip from the film has landed online, which is now included after the jump.]

the-master-philip-seymour-hoffmanFirst off, for those unfamiliar, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a drifter who is taken in by a charismatic intellectual (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who creates his own religion.  During the script stage, comparisons between Hoffman’s character and Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard ran rampant, and Anderson confirmed that aspects of Hubbard’s life influenced the creation of Hoffman’s character.  This hung like a cloud over the project throughout its development and production, and Anderson tells Newsweek (via The Playlist) that he wasn’t exactly thrilled about The Master being deemed “The Scientology movie” before anyone ever saw a frame:

“I was naive. I should have known that’s what people would latch onto.”

Now that people have seen it, we’ve heard that the film is not exactly the Scientology expose that some are expecting.  Anderson himself states that he’s become, “much more defensive and protective of [Scientology] than I would have thought.” The author of the Newsweek piece, David Ansen, notes that Anderson pulled from a number of sources in addition to L. Ron Hubbard when creating Hoffman’s character:

There were scenes he’d written early on for There Will Be Blood he’d never used. There were stories Jason Robards had told him on the set of Magnolia about his drinking days in the Navy during the war. Chunks of Freddie’s experiences as a migrant field worker and wanderer were lifted from John Steinbeck’s life story.

joaquin-phoenix-the-masterAnderson would share pages from his script with Hoffman during the writing process to fine-tune the story, and it was Hoffman who clarified to Anderson that The Master was the story of Phoenix’s character.  The director had nothing but great things to say about Phoenix’s performance (which is already garnering awards buzz), even going so far as to compare him to a certain There Will Be Blood actor:

“At a certain point, Joaquin is just incapable of faking it. He’s like Daniel [Day-Lewis], his level of concentration. He just got in character and stayed there—for three months he didn’t stop. Joaquin is very unpredictable. A lot of the time I didn’t know what he was going to do.”

Ansen points out to Anderson that The Master shares the same “creation of a makeshift family” and alcoholic antihero story details as his past two films, to which Anderson replies:

“I know, it’s the same thing again. No matter how hard I try to set out to do something different. I wish I would have more diversity as a filmmaker.”

Somehow I think his fans would disagree.  This is the first of many interviews I’m sure we’ll see from Anderson regarding The Master, but it’s great to see the somewhat elusive filmmaker talk about his process.  The Master opens in theaters on September 14th.

Watch the new clip below, which announces a 70mm screening of the film in San Francisco at the Castro Theater on Tuesday, August 21st (via Cigarettes & Red Vines):


  • Dsimolke

    It’s great to see a brilliant auteur come off as totally unpretentious. Seriously, it’s just nice when that happens. And it happens more than I would be inclined to assume.

    • Polarboy

      People with real talent and intelligence don’t have any need for pretension. Pretension is the armour of the talentless.

      • Polarboy

        Was my comment a bit pretentious ? ;)

      • Nick

        “Was my comment a bit pretentious ? ;)”

        Yes, but it only added to the overall effect.

  • oaktreeradar

    I listened to the commentary for hard eight the other day and now i’m so fired up to see this movie. I mean film.

  • potterboy

    remember when the project temporarily “stalled” because PTA was experiencing creative block?(in Renners words). well, that maybe it. it took a little help from Hoffman to FINALLY fine tune the script.

    it’d be interesting seeing PTA on Charlie ROse and talk about this. he’s been very vocal that he experiences “creative block” during the making of PUNCH DRUNK LOVE and THERE WILL BE BLOOD while shooting has already begun. then he’d scrapped the first three weeks when he found his footing. could it be that THAT was the problem he had while rehearsing with the actors back in summer 2010.

  • Pingback: Newsweek | NewsTrendr()

  • Jeremy

    hey potterboy can you give a link to the interviews where he talks about the creative block he experienced during the shooting of punch drunk love and there will be blood?

  • potterboy

    Jeremy, you made me do alot of re-researching for this. LOL. but anything for Paul, i would do. :D

    here it is for PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. start at 1:32(or just watch the whole interview).

    and here it is for THERE WILL BE BLOOD. here he says it in Charlie Rose’s show. it’s in 4:13

    if you want more PTA, go to cigarettes and redvines youtube account. they post interviews of PTA that’s hard to find elsewhere.

  • Emile

    If it’s going to be half as good as There will be Blood, it will be a masterpiece!
    TWWB is an all-time stone-cold classic and I just re-watched the ending the other day. It still floors me. I drink your milkshake……
    PT Anderson drink evertone’s milkshake, he’s one of the best and original directors out there with a singular vision and it’s extra great to hear he’s so humble about his work and that he has his doubts like all of us.

  • Pingback: Paul Thomas Anderson Addresses Controversy Surrounding ‘The Master’ | Geeks of Doom()

  • Jimmy B

    This is probably going to win an Oscar voor best cinematography, and hopefully many more.

  • Pingback: Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master Film = Scientology Film? – Trailer, Kritik, Filmrezension « Scientology-Blogger()