Paul Thomas Anderson to adapt Thomas Pynchon?
Vulture has learned that Paul Thomas Anderson wants to adapt Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel Inherent Vice — about Larry "Doc" Sportello, a pothead private eye wandering through the Summer (and winter) of Love in 1969 Los Angeles — into his sixth feature film. (Those unfamiliar with 2009's Vice can hear a Pynchon-narrated video explanation of the world and worldview of his protagonist; or, just download Vice's first chapter for free here.) It’s unclear how far Anderson has gotten with it, but several well-placed insiders say they've heard he's writing a treatment and may have already started on a script.
One source familiar with the project said that Anderson’s agency, Creative Artists, has been pondering the idea of trying to attach Robert Downey Jr. as Doc Sportello, but another source cautions there’s no official Downey involvement yet and, in any event, Downey’s schedule is so full he wouldn’t available to shoot anything until November 2011 at the earliest. Still, at the rate Anderson works — his last film was 2007’s There Will Be Blood — that timing might just work out perfectly.
In late September, Anderson was forced to shelve indefinitely plans to make a long-gestating film based loosely on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Originally set up at Universal, which balked at its $35 million budget, The Master (as it would've presumably been called) would have starred Philip Seymour Hoffman as the creator of a new faith and Jeremy Renner as his disaffected disciple. If Downey can't do Vice, we could just as easily imagine Hoffman as the amiably stoned private investigator. (Then again, we can easily imagine Hoffman as an an amiably stoned anything.)
As for Anderson and Pynchon, if ever there has been a better psychic match between writer-director and author, we can't think of one. "Paranoids," Pynchon famously wrote in Gravity’s Rainbow, “are not paranoid because they're paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, fucking idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.” Maybe that explains why one of Hollywood’s most infamously paranoid filmmakers has been talking to America’s most famous reclusive literary genius so much of late.
Indeed, one has to wonder how many neuroses the two Thomases have had to surmount in order to communicate at all: It’s become part of Hollywood lore that Anderson, at least while represented by UTA, would never set foot in his own talent agency, and when he did contact his agent by phone, he would immediately demand that he call him back on his own cell phone, without any nosy assistants listening in.
And Pynchon, of course, hasn’t made a public appearance in decades, unless you count his (quite candidly, brilliant) cameos on The Simpsons.
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