Paul Thomas Anderson Close to Financing for His Scientology Film and an Adaptation of INHERENT VICE

     February 10, 2011

If you’ve been yearning for a new Paul Thomas Anderson film like the rest of us cinephiles, we’ve got some very good news for you. It looks like billionaire heiress Megan Ellison (daughter of Oracle boss Larry Ellison) is in negotiations to co-finance not one, but two new Paul Thomas Anderson films! The writer/director had been working on a religious drama said to revolve around the founding of a Scientology-like religion tentatively titled The Master, but was getting nowhere finding financing (this is Hollywood after all; just look at the vitriol spewed at Paul Haggis following his denunciation of Scientology).

The film was set to star Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the founder of a spiritual movement called the Cause, with Jeremy Renner taking on the role of his young protégé. Vulture reports that Renner was forced to drop out of the project given his full schedule (offers started pouring in following his Oscar-nominated turn in The Hurt Locker), but Hoffman is still attached to the film. Hit the jump for much more, including the status of Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pychon’s period crime-drama Inherent Vice.

inherent_vice_book_cover_01In addition to co-financing Anderson’s religious drama, Ellison is also coming to the rescue of Inherent Vice. The adaptation of the Pychon novel follows Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello, a pothead private eye wandering through the Summer (and Winter) of Love in 1969 Los Angeles, tracking down the killer of a woman’s wealthy lover. Anderson is apparently not only finished with a first draft of the script, but is already halfway through a second pass. Furthermore, he’s secured the blessing of Pychon himself, consulting with him frequently throughout the scripting process.

When we reported on the project back in December, Anderson was keen to cast Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role of the film. That’s apparently still his intention, and given that RDJ has recently dropped out of Sam Raimi’s Oz, The Great and Powerful and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, the actor should have some time in his schedule later this year to take on the role if he so desires.

Personally, I’m beyond ecstatic to hear that a new PTA flick is in the near future. Throw in the possibility of two Anderson films getting financing, and I’m over the moon. The guy has nary a spot on his resume, and is one of Hollywood’s true auteurs. The idea of him working with an actor as gifted as Robert Downey Jr. (as well as re-teaming with the always amazing Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is almost too good to be true.

Megan Ellison, the fairy godmother in all of this, has only recently gotten into the producing business with spectacular results. She co-financed True Grit with her brother David and is also co-financing John Hillcoat’s much-anticipated adaptation of The Wettest County in the World starring Shia Labeouf and Tom Hardy. All I can say is, thank you thank you thank you!

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