After setting his career back a few steps with the seriously dire ‘mockumentary’ I’m Still Here, Joaquin Phoenix is looking for a career resurrection. No better place for resurrection than in the hands of Paul Thomas Anderson, Phoenix is now in official talks to star in PTA’s long gestating project which was originally titled The Master, although that title now appears to have gone by the wayside. If he claims the role he will play Freddie Sutton opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s Lancaster Dodd, an intellectual leader who calls himself the Master and leads a very shady cult called the Cause.
The character of Sutton is said to be an alcoholic drifter who becomes taken under Dodd’s wing and eventually becomes his right hand man before questioning the ideals of his new teacher. The project was originally set up at Universal but due to the subject matter, which is rumored and will definitely be highly critical of the organised Scientology religion, they pulled out. There’s a lot to be said for upsetting a religion which has in its members a variety of high profile Hollywood people.
The project is now set up at Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures who is financing the $35 million project, Anderson’s usual producing partner JoAnne Sellar will be co-producing with Ellison. This film is just one of the two projects that Anderson is currently developing, he has the more high profile film Inherent Vice, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon‘s novel, on his slate too. That project sounds more financially viable and populist, for that reason it will likely come first. However I am more excited about this one and hope we get a look at it sometime soon. (Variety)