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VENICE: 'The Master' Press Conference; Cruise & Anderson Still Friends

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood September 2, 2012 at 10:56AM

Despite an enthusiastic reception as he entered the room, Paul Thomas Anderson held up his reputation as elusive prey at "The Master" press conference in Venice, and his two stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix were happy to fall in step behind him. In fact, Phoenix barely said a word, dragging on a cigarette, offering a couple of mumbling replies and even leaving the room for a spell. But there were still nuggets to be gleaned.
'The Master'
'The Master'

On Dodd's attraction to Quell, Hoffman referred to the two men as "wild beasts... One of them has tamed it somehow and is trying to teach other people how to do that. But he just wants to be wild like Freddie is and there's this real attraction there.” Hoffman also got the biggest laugh of the afternoon when claiming that he thinks most people dream of indulging their basest impulses. "I think we wake up every morning going, 'Fuck, why can't I run naked through the streets of Venice and just eat shit? Why can't I do that and have it be okay? Is it possible I can have sex with everyone I see today? I know I can't but I wish that was possible.'"

Anderson wrote the script for "The Master" with both actors in mind for their roles, and was especially delighted that Phoenix finally said yes to him: "I've asked him to be in just about every other movie I've done and he'd said no because it's a little bit of a pain in the ass… But he said yes this time. And thank god he did."

The conference wrapped with an amusing anecdote about the porcelain toilet that Phoenix shatters in a sequence where Dodd and Quell end up in adjoining jail cells. Smiled Anderson: "I'm not fucking joking about this... That was a historic toilet because it's in a San Pedro jail cell which is a historic monument and when they heard that we broke their toilet seat, they were really pissed off. We could only shoot that scene once."

This article is related to: The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Venice Film Festival

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.