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Unused Scenes From 'There Will Be Blood' Reworked For 'The Master' & More From Paul Thomas Anderson About The Film

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by Kevin Jagernauth
August 20, 2012 1:50 PM
13 Comments
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Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master

While for most prestigious movies, audiences have to wait until after their high-falutin' red carpet festival premieres before they can see it for themselves, with "The Master," Paul Thomas Anderson is changing the game. The film had its first surprise public screening Santa Monica at the beginning of the month, had a last minute fundraising showing in Chicago last week (see our review here), and over the weekend, had two more unannounced unveilings in New York City. But even so, the curtain has been somewhat closed on the movie from the filmmaker himself, but in his first interview about the film, Paul Thomas Anderson shares his inspirations and frustrations about getting the movie out there.

“I was naive. I should have known that’s what people would latch onto,” Anderson tells David Ansen of Newsweek about early word leaking that the lead character of Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, would be inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. But as those who have seen the film can attest, there are larger, weighter issues the movie is grappling with, and perhaps surprisingly, Anderson isn't ready to throw the celebrity fueled religion under the bus. "[I'm] much more defensive and protective of [Scientology] than I would have thought.”

And indeed, Ansen notes that Hubbard was only one ingredient in a fascinating stew of resources and inspiration that Anderson used to pull the movie together including "scenes he’d written early on for 'There Will Be Blood' he’d never used. There were stories Jason Robards had told him on the set of 'Magnolia' about his drinking days in the Navy during the war. Chunks of Freddie’s experiences as a migrant field worker and wanderer were lifted from John Steinbeck’s life story."
 
Yet somehow, all these various materials still combined into a film that explores the usual themes fractured families and flawed fatalistic antiheroes, something Anderson acknowledges. “I know, it’s the same thing again. No matter how hard I try to set out to do something different,” he said. “I wish I would have more diversity as a filmmaker.” 
 
And powering all these disparate elements is Joaquin Phoenix, whose performance is already garnering Oscar buzz, and who Anderson has nothing but praise for. “At a certain point, Joaquin is just incapable of faking it. He’s like Daniel [Day-Lewis], his level of concentration. He just got in character and stayed there—for three months he didn’t stop," he said. "Joaquin is very unpredictable. A lot of the time I didn’t know what he was going to do.” 
 
But that unpredictability is an element Amy Adams felt from the director as well. Talking to Vulture she recalls his unique approach that he demanded of the actors on the film, where "even for scenes in which she was not scheduled to appear, she was instructed to show up, just to make her presence felt." Keeping the cast off balance, Anderson asked Adams at one point to read a page of Victorian pornography directly to the camera, but if you're looking for complaints, you won't find any from the actress.
 
"...I do kind of worship Paul. He’s magnificent,” she said.
 
"The Master" opens on September 14th.
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13 Comments

  • Adeola Adeniyi | August 22, 2012 1:57 AMReply

    A Paul Thomas Anderson film that comes out every five years is better than most of the garbage Hollywood every week. Fuck superhero flicks, fuck action packed films, fuck romantic films, PTA is the best director working in America because he actually makes films that are about something, with complexity and depth to them.

  • Tom Cruise | August 21, 2012 1:55 AMReply

    I ALONE stand against the blasphemous onslaught PTA hath wrought! All you heathens feel my painful mental projectiles projecting forth at your cerebrum via your screen!

  • J.Travolta | August 21, 2012 1:57 AM

    oh Tom, please have mercy these less developed beings know not what they have done. Mercy, Mercy! especially on the hot young male ones.

  • PAT | August 21, 2012 12:02 AMReply

    I don't think his films are all alike in the slightest. I think they explore similar tangents but when the stories being told are different, and the settings and characters are different, I really don't mind. I mean, especially in regard to Punch Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood, I think he's developed a style of telling his own stories that blows everything else out of the water. His movies almost feel composed, if that makes much sense. I don't think There Will Be Blood is perfect, or any of his films for that matter, but he's certainly an exciting director and the best working in America for sure.

  • jim | August 20, 2012 6:09 PMReply

    Paul Thomas Anderson is talented, but their are times I find his films pretentious. He seriously needs a great editor

  • Yod | August 21, 2012 12:13 AM

    You don't even know the meaning of 'their', so I doubt you understand what 'pretentious' means.

  • Thislalife | August 20, 2012 2:35 PMReply

    I wish he would have more diversity as a filmmaker and make some big budget franchise picture just for kicks? Bond? Daredevil? Punisher? Bad Boys 3?

  • Neil | August 20, 2012 10:40 PM

    Bad Boys 3? You're joking right? You must be fucking joking? If so, well done, you made me laugh before you made me angry.

  • Cribbster | August 20, 2012 7:32 PM

    I agree, I'm not sure having these guys directing comic book movies is a good idea. (I think you'd probably end up being surprised at how bad they'd be at it.) But I've actually thought Stanley Kubrick might be the only filmmaker capable of making "Watchmen." There are ideas throughout that story played out on a scale and size that I think would require someone of that mental caliber to pull off.

  • wes | August 20, 2012 4:10 PM

    fuck that! and fuck you!

  • Sean | August 20, 2012 3:57 PM

    Each film he does explores the same thing but each film is structure to such a perfect level and each feels like its own entry.

  • N | August 20, 2012 3:42 PM

    I think, by diversity he means something more along the lines of Ang Lee.

  • Ugh | August 20, 2012 2:45 PM

    Fuck that.

    He makes films far more interesting than any of the studio work that is put out week to week. Making any film of that ilk isn't going to give him 'more diversity', he'd just prove he can push a studio project through production.

    PTA is better than that. It makes me shudder to think if Stanley Kubrick was alive today people would want him to direct an Avengers sequel more than do anything original.

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