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Paul Thomas Anderson Looks To Adapt Thomas Pychon's 'Inherent Vice' With Robert Downey Jr.

by Kevin Jagernauth
December 2, 2010 3:19 AM
10 Comments
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RDJ Not Signed On Yet, And Project Sounds Like It's In Early Stages, But Wow



Adapting the work of reclusive literary genius Thomas Pynchon seems like a fool's errand. His novels -- "Gravity's Rainbow" and "The Crying of Lot 49" -- among others, feature dense plotting, allegorical whimsy, and are stuffed so full of characters that any screenwriter stupid enough to attempt an adaptation must be suicidal. Unless that book is his latest "Inherent Vice" and unless the person adapting it is Paul Thomas Anderson.

Acquired just over a year ago by CAA, "Inherent Vice" is now headed to the big screen. Vulture reports Anderson is hard at work adapting the book and while it's not quite clear how far he's gotten so far, apparently a treatment might already be done and he may be in the first stages of penning the script. And certainly, any Anderson project is a hot one and CAA who are repping the project "has been pondering the idea of trying to attach Robert Downey Jr. as Doc Sportello." So, that's basically a fancy way of saying he's on a wishlist and as Vulture notes, Robert Downey Jr.'s schedule is pretty much crammed for the next year as work on two major tentpoles, "The Avengers" and "Oz The Great And Powerful" (and that packed calendar recently forced him to drop out of Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity").

Certainly, "Inherent Vice" is the most filmable of any Pynchon book. The 384-page "novella" follows a private detective uncovering a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer in drug-kissed 1960s Los Angeles. Many reviewers have even drawn comparisons to the psychedelic noir of "The Big Lebowski." Downey Jr. is being eyed for the leading role of the blissed-out investigator, but obviously, these are very early stages.

No word yet on what this means for Anderson's gestating Scientology/religious cult drama "The Master." Last we heard, the project was postponed indefinitely with Jeremy Renner hinting that Anderson was still getting the script and story to a place he liked, but we hoped that one hasn't fallen to the wayside.

"Inherent Vice" will mark the second project based off a previously published work and it remains to be seen if Anderson will stick to the pages of Pynchon's work or, like he did with "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair (which was turned into "There Will Be Blood"), spin it into something uniquely his own.

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10 Comments

  • Pope | December 3, 2010 7:38 AMReply

    F*** YES. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo glad to hear this man is working on something, I was absolutely crushed after The Master got postponed.

  • Raj Himself | December 3, 2010 12:42 AMReply

    Hells yeah! Now, if he could just pump this and The Master out back to back in 2012 & 2013 and Andrew Dominik can do similar with Cogan's Trade and Blonde I may just happily die thereafter.

    Oh yeah, The Tree of Life and The Burial coming back to back will do just nicely also. In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit, Amen.

  • Sean | December 3, 2010 12:26 AMReply

    @ Hayden Maxwell Take out the Altman reference. And then shut up.

    It seems Christmas arrived early. So excited for anything about this project. And it'll be interesting to see PTA follow the Kubrick code and adapt book.

  • Hayden Maxwell | December 2, 2010 9:14 AMReply

    PTA adapting Pynchon adapting The Coens adapting Altman adapting Chandler?

    yeah that's exciting.

  • Bryan C. | December 2, 2010 6:54 AMReply

    Sorry, I forgot that new comments appear on top.

    The first line of my previous post was in reference to the first comment by Ken ("Just tell Jeremy Renner to stop aging for the next 2-3 years and we’ll be fine").

  • Bryan C. | December 2, 2010 6:49 AMReply

    If you have the chance to be in a PTA film, that seems like a reasonable request!

    Joking aside, of course, like everyone else I'm hoping that he doesn't abandon 'The Master' entirely and that once he gets back to it, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeremy Renner will still be on board.

  • Ken | December 2, 2010 6:14 AMReply

    Napoleon was a matter of budgetary concerns, wasn't it? The demands that Kubrick wanted for that to be filmed was nearly impossible to meet at the time.

    And Don Quixote, well... Terry Gilliam just has terrible luck.

    Perhaps I'm just being overly optimistic, but it seems like the main problem with "The Master" is the script. What I'm hoping is that through the process of making this film, the Inherent Vice film, that it will help get PTA to find the missing piece to the puzzle that is "The Master."

    I know the Coen Bros had problems trying to finish the "Miller's Crossing" script so they started writing the script for "Barton Fink" and then came back to "Miller's Crossing." I'm hoping that's what it'll be like for PTA.

  • Eric Edge | December 2, 2010 5:41 AMReply

    If not Robert Downey Jr., maybe Jeremy Renner can play Sportello? I have a feeling The Master is going to turn out to be PTA's "Napoleon" or "Don Quixote". I also think he'll spin this story into something more his own.

  • Sasha | December 2, 2010 4:18 AMReply

    I prefer James Franco like Sportello.

  • Ken | December 2, 2010 4:02 AMReply

    I'm just glad PT Anderson will be making a movie, don't care if it's Inherent Vice or The Master. 4-5 year breaks between PTA films makes me sad. Hopefully, once he's done with this film, he'll work on The Master soon after. Just tell Jeremy Renner to stop aging for the next 2-3 years and we'll be fine.

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