Joaquin Phoenix in early talks to join director Paul Thomas Anderson's religious drama


Image Credit: Barry King/; Inset: Jason Merritt/

He is indeed still here. More than two years after announcing that he was quitting acting and reinventing himself as a hip-hop artist — an announcement that turned out to be part of an elaborate stunt that culminated in last year’s fake documentary I’m Still Here (inset) – it seems Joaquin Phoenix may soon pick up his Hollywood career where he left off.

EW has confirmed that, as first reported by Variety, Phoenix has had early discussions with writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson about joining a religious drama Anderson is developing that’s loosely based on the founding of Scientology. The film, often referred to as The Master but still officially untitled, tells the story of a charismatic leader named Lancaster Dodd who creates a new religion in the 1950s. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is reportedly attached to play Dodd. Though there is no deal in place yet, Phoenix would potentially play his main disciple, an alcoholic drifter named Freddie Sutton who becomes Dodd’s closest follower only to later break away from him. 

Jeremy Renner had been attached at one point to play the role but dropped out last fall when it appeared that the project had stalled. Anderson, whose credits include Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, is also developing an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice that Robert Downey Jr. is set to star in, and it’s still unclear which film might go into production first.

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  • zarleyt

    So the next Paul Thomas Anderson film will be released when? 2012? 2013? Hard to believe that Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia were all released in a 4 year period. Now he takes 5 years in between movies.

    • Matt Greene

      The Master would have been onscreen in 2010 if the funding had been there, but apparently Paramount had more important things to do…like Transformers 3.

      • JenH

        I think it keeps being put on the back burner because there are so many scientologists in Hwood and Paramount knows the distribution of this film will majorly piss them off.

        I really hope it comes through though. Sounds like an interesting story!

      • Lovfy

        I am convinced PTA is going to make nothing but great, epic, character-driven movies… and this premise about religion and 1950s just screams, a Citizen Kane for our time.
        You are beautiful and deserve better life? — Lo ve Wealt hy *C//0 m — a plac e gathering thousands of millionares, providing you chances to da t e with wealty people, accesses to upper class luxury life.

        Don’t hesitate, your life will be changed!

      • ashlee

        JenH may be right. When you look at the number of established actor scientologists in Hwood I’m sure Paramount is well aware it is risking its neck. Certainly any actor agreeing to work on this film will be getting calls from the power group.

  • Janice Bergman

    Joaquin would be perfect for this role. Remember him in Gladiator …. his intensity and believable insanity in that role helped win that film multiple awards. In fact, I predict he will nominated for an Oscar, if he decides to do accept the role.

    Go for it Joaquin!

  • Collin

    Best News Ever. Joaquin Phoenix will be excellent in this role. Any news at all about this movie reaching development is good news. I need a new movie to satiate my PTA fix.

  • caroline

    after seeing There Will Be Blood, I am convinced PTA is going to make nothing but great, epic, character-driven movies… and this premise about religion and 1950s just screams, a Citizen Kane for our time. I might be completely outta my mind, but that’s just my opinion. And I love the idea of Joaquin Phoenix as a part of this.

  • The Dude

    PTA is, easily, one of the best filmmakers working today. No matter what his next project turns out to be, I can’t wait!

  • theo

    who gives a flying ph******k?

  • LoL


  • Juanita L

    Que bueno!

  • Joe

    Dang he should’ve penned a Crying of Lot 49 movie, Inherent Vice blew chunks.

    • Jason

      I value the opinion of someone who’s read Pynchon, but I’d value it even more if it were slightly more eloquent.

  • bruno

    funny. i was just thinking of joaquin.

  • Reba

    He’s such a remarkable actor, I just wish he would get his personal life together.

  • Tali

    He’s finally coming to his senses!

    • Ad

      he never left his senses, all that was publicity stunt cooked up by casey affleck and him. If you bought it then it shows how amazing actor he is.

      • me

        But was it a sensible publicity stunt? I really don’t understand what he got out of it. To me, it just makes him seem very full of himself.

      • Tali

        I didn’t buy it; I just meant that he’s finally returning to making films! And I agree with you, he’s an amazing actor.

  • carolebarrel1

    Joaquin is one of the greatest actors of our time. The fact that he didn’t get an oscar for “Walk the Line” is one of the biggest travesties I have ever seen Hollywood do. Reese was good in the movie (and she surprisingly won an oscar), but Joaquin was absolutely the best I have ever seen. Hope he’s back.

    • John

      So I guess you appreciate that if this movie does get made, Phoenix will be starring opposite the man who robbed him of his (in your opinion) deserved Oscar.

  • D

    If they could get RDJr and Phoenix in the same movie, I’d be in movie nirvana. My two favorite actors!

  • Cat Hood

    From the title, I thought we had finally made national news. A neighborhood in Phoenix, Az, is fighting the mor-menz church. The church wants to squeeze a large temple on less than 5 acres in a residential neighborhood across from a mountain conservation park. The light pollution will kill the park, the traffic will kill the neighborhood, and the 100 foot spire in 30foot zoning will kill the views.

    • katherine

      Sorry, but that’s what morons do. We have one in our neighborhood on a hill and it dominates the scenery. They do that intentionally, like the scientologists. It’s all about location. I guess we are used to it with its massive gold statue, etc. Better than the hood moving in.

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