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Robert Downey Jr. Out, Joaquin Phoenix In For Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice'

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 24, 2013 3:53 PM
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Joaquin Phoenix, Paul Thomas Anderson Inherent Vice

Joaquin Phoenix may come off as somewhat mercurial, perhaps even unapproachable, but his talent is unassailable, and it seems he forges strong creative connections. One need look no further than the four films he's made with James Gray, and now it looks like he's ready to re-up with his "The Master" director Paul Thomas Anderson.

THR reports that Robert Downey Jr. has passed on the upcoming "Inherent Vice," and Phoenix is now in talks to join. Damn. While this is exactly the kind of role we were hoping RDJ would take after basically playing Tony Stark for the past few years, it's hard to argue with Phoenix slotting in for what could be a total gear shift. Based on the book by Thomas Pynchon, the story follows a private detective uncovering a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer in drug-kissed 1960s Los Angeles.

Earlier in the month, Charlize Theron was tipped as a potential co-star with the promise of more big names to come in rounding out the cast, and obviously, things are still coming together. It does seem as if this is quickly becoming what might be the fastest turnaround between pictures for PTA. But Anderson and Phoenix back together to tackle a "Big Lebowski"-esque crime tale? Um, yeah, that works. And yes, Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures is producing.

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  • jimmiescoffee | January 25, 2013 3:30 PMReply

    great news. but RDjr. passed? what the fuck is his deal?

  • Alex | January 25, 2013 7:50 AMReply

    Yes! oh dios míooooooo! Si. RobertDollarJr....OUT!!!! YESS. Joaquin IN! Perfect! Groovy!

  • Melle | January 24, 2013 8:31 PMReply

    Gee, too bad I was really hoping for RDJ to lay off the blockbusters for a while and work with Anderson. Both the Pinoccio and esp that Judge project don't sound too interesting to me.

  • DG | January 24, 2013 6:36 PMReply

    Yes ! Great fucking news right here. While I agree with the people on here saying this is not Pynchons best novel it will still work good as a movie, especially with PTA on board. The problem with adapting Gravitys Rainbow is actually not just the density but the fact that with the way most directors would approach it it most likely would come out like a Cloud Atlas style clusterfuck. Inherent Vice is far more linear and PTA has already proven he's canny about distilling the essence of a time period without beating you over the head with it. What i wonder about most is to what extent he is going to include/use music in it. Pynchon is famous for putting dumb songs in his books and I'd think you would be tempted/ possibly feel obligated to use one or two just for the fans, though doing it wrong could possibly derail the movie IMO. I'm just imagining PTA sitting there at his writing desk right now with the book open on his lap reading some limerick of a talking lava lamp singing about mitosis or something and going 'Huh'.

  • Sean | January 24, 2013 8:28 PM

    Yeah, but PTA has his fare share of odd scenes in his films, that have (possibly) unintentional humour in them (the ink blot scene in the Master or the "brother from another mother" line from TWBB come to mind).

  • 343 | January 24, 2013 6:02 PMReply

    somewhat mercurial / perhaps unapproachable / talent unassailable --- Like a slant rhyming haiku

  • TheWub | January 24, 2013 5:47 PMReply

    RDJ got over his inherent vices, now he has no need for the inherent awesomeness of this movie.

  • Remy | January 24, 2013 5:40 PMReply

    "...somewhat mercurial, perhaps even unapproachable..."

    What a great euphemism for "ginormous douchebag".

  • kris | January 24, 2013 5:39 PMReply

    hell yeah! like best news ever..and two thumbs up for future joaquin+pta collaboration

  • oogle monster | January 24, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    Freddie Quell and Mavis Gary in one film... at last! Also PTA rocks.

  • Richard Harris | January 24, 2013 5:04 PMReply

    RDJ is the new Johnny Depp, stuck in blockblusterland and playing caricatures of himself.

  • Ugh | January 24, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    Robert Downey Jr sold out. The man used to actually be a compelling ACTOR. Now he just riffs off himself & is certainly going to come back for another round of Marvel paychecks.

  • ak | January 24, 2013 5:05 PM

    yep. same with Johnny Depp.

  • CHR | January 24, 2013 4:24 PMReply

    Great for Joaquin! But damn, Robert Downey Jr. missed a major opportunity!

  • Jean Robie | January 24, 2013 4:22 PMReply

    If any of PTA's fans had actually read this godawful book, they might be less excited about any news concerning it. It sounds promising--pot smoking hippie private eye in 60s Los Angeles--but it's a pointless, confusing mess and one of Pynchon's worst novels. I would get excited if it were one of his earlier works--"V," "The Crying of Lot 49," or most of all "Gravity's Rainbow." But not this one.

  • ousa | January 25, 2013 3:52 AM

    It's a fun read, no doubt about that.. But it is one of Pynchon's lesser novels. But if a novel is a masterpiece, then it shouldn't be adapted, but just stand by itself. I'm sure that PTA will bring something new to the story and make it work on a higher/different level.

  • bohmer | January 24, 2013 5:06 PM

    And I'm sure Oil! was a masterpiece as well...

  • Charlie | January 24, 2013 4:59 PM

    I'm both a massive PTA fan and a Pynchon fan that has read the book. This is probably the only book of Pynchon's that is even conceivable as a film, as most of his work is incredibly dense. However, it is no less great fun to read than any of his other novels and I've never been more excited for this project. Regarding the plot...look up what Inherent Vice means. It can really help explain alot.

  • cattt | January 24, 2013 4:56 PM

    The Godfather, Jaws or Shining aren't exactly great novels either, but the films are brilliant.

  • d | January 24, 2013 4:26 PM

    Why do you think bad novels = bad movies?

  • dudeabides | January 24, 2013 4:17 PMReply

    way better than RDJ!

  • JoaqBard | January 24, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    This = Best News of the Year (thus far (movie-wise)) + WOOOooOooooo

  • Monica | January 24, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    Excellent choice. Joaquin is much better than Downey Jr.

  • Real | January 24, 2013 4:04 PMReply

    I really wanted to see RDJ in this and out of his recent comfort zone.

  • Francis | January 24, 2013 4:23 PM

    Agreed, that woulda been nice to see. PTA and JP rule, but woulda beeen nice to see RDJ in that mix.

  • john | January 24, 2013 3:57 PMReply


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