It may seem like Paul Thomas Anderson's latest is getting an inordinate amount of press coverage but when your last film is the 2007 masterpiece "There Will Be Blood," all eyes are bound to be on you for a follow-up. Nearly four years later, cameras are finally rolling on that film. But it hasn't been easy, the project has taken a long road just getting into production. It was first announced 18 months ago) and we'll likely be waiting another 18 months or so before finally getting a look at the film. The picture reunites the director for the 5th time with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who stars as Lancaster Dodd, a.k.a. The Master, “a man who returns after witnessing the horrors of WWII and tries to rediscover who he is in post-war America and creates a belief system that catches on with other lost souls.”
The project has been shrouded in secrecy since it's inception, and though a very early version of the script was leaked last year, it has supposedly been reworked heavily by Anderson who has been keeping very tight lipped on all details regarding the film. This under-the-radar strategy has only seemed to provoke fans of the director into searching even harder for details on the film which began shooting recently on a closed set outside San Francisco where a few location photos have made their way online.
The latest news though comes from Variety who reports that two more actors have come aboard. Josh Close ("Diary Of The Dead") will play "a leading disciple" of Hoffman's character while "True Blood" vet Fiona Dourif (daughter of actor Brad Dourif) will play an unspecified role. They join a cast that also includes Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Lena Endre, David Warshofski, Jesse Plemons, Rami Malek and Madisen Beaty all of whom (save Warshofski who appeared briefly in 'Blood') will be working with Anderson for the first time. Also working with the director for the first time is cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. (who shot Francis Ford Coppola's last 3 films including the upcoming "Twixt Now And Sunrise") who is replacing longtime DP Robert Elswit, who had already committed to shooting the 4th 'Bourne' installment.
Though it wasn't made clear in the article, Variety writer Jeff Sneider also reports that the film is officially now titled "The Master." So we can officially stop tiptoeing around referring to it as "Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project" or "Untitled Scientology Project" or "Untitled PTA Pisses Off Tom Cruise Project" or any other nonsense. It seems only a matter of time before we start to get a look at the actors in the film but in the meantime PTA obsessives can start thinking about the myriad connections being made by this last round of casting. For instance, Close costarred in the shortlived show "The Unusuals" with Jeremy Renner, who was attached to an earlier version of the film only to be replaced by Joaquin Phoenix. Dourif, stars on "True Blood" with Deborah Ann Woll, who was also one of the actresses Anderson was interested in during that earlier version. Coincidence? Probably, yes. But that probably won't stop fans (this writer included) from looking for more ways to connect the dots.