Anderson, Hoffman at Altar on Religion Pic
By: Mike Fleming, Variety
“There Will Be Blood” writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson has found religion, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, for his next film.
Anderson has written an untitled period drama that is set up at Universal. Hoffman, who has played supporting roles in most of Anderson’s past films, would this time be the centerpiece.
Hoffman will play “The Master,” as in “master of ceremonies,” a charismatic intellectual who hatches a faith-based organization that begins to catch on in America in 1952.
The core is the relationship between The Master and Freddie, a twenty-something drifter who becomes the leader’s lieutenant. As the faith begins to gain a fervent following, Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.
Anderson's treatment of religion was cynical in "There Will Be Blood." Here, the scrutiny isn't specifically directed toward faith-based movements like Scientology or Mormonism that are newcomers compared to established religions. Anderson explores the need to believe in a higher power, the choice of which to embrace, and the point at which a belief system graduates into a religion. .
Universal, which has become very selective about green lighting adult dramas, won’t make a decision on Anderson’s $35 million budget pic until he delivers his finished script. His hope is to make the picture next year, sources said.
Anderson’s frequent collaborator, JoAnne Sellar, is the producer.
Hoffman made his breakthrough in the cast of Anderson’s “Boogie Nights,” and has also appeared in the Anderson-directed “Hard Eight,” “Punch-Drunk Love” and “Magnolia.”
Neither the studio nor reps for Anderson or Hoffman would comment.