Paul Thomas Anderson began planning the adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s detective novel Inherent Vice back in 2010, and temporarily put it on hold in order to direct the Scientology-based drama The Master. Inherent Vice will see him reteam with Joaquin Phoenix, who will play protagonist Larry “Doc” Sportello – a marijuana-loving private investigator working in Los Angeles at the beginning of the ’70s, who is recruited by his ex-girlfriend to help with a mess of plots, betrayals, ex-cons, and crime bosses, frequently butting heads with the local police department along the way.

In case it wasn’t immediately apparent from that brief synopsis, Doc Sportello has need of a pretty good lawyer, and luckily it looks like he’s about to get one.

The Wrap reports that Dr Gonzo himself, Benicio Del Toro, is in talks for the role of Sportello’s friend and attorney, Sauncho, who is frequently drawn in to help get the private investigator out of trouble.

Anderson has previously described Inherent Vice as a “Cheech and Chong” movie, and considering how infused the central character is with marijuana, the end result may be pretty psychedelic – a kind of “Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles.” Robert Downey Jr. was in talks to play the protagonist at one point, with Charlize Theron playing his ex-girlfriend and the femme fatale of the movie, but ultimately RDJ passed on the role.

Del Toro was most recently seen playing a cartel heavy in Oliver Stone’s thriller Savages, and if he does end up signing on for Inherent Vice then the pairing of Del Toro and Phoenix – who haven’t shared a screen together before – will make for quite an interesting combination. It will also mark the first time that Anderson and Del Toro have worked together on a project.

Inherent Vice is scheduled to start filming this month, so if Anderson is chasing Del Toro then there’s a good chance he’s serious, since he’s beyond the point of merely flirting with different options for the role. Sauncho is a relatively minor character within the novel, but there’s a lot of potential for him to be a real scene-stealer, and having Del Toro play an attorney who advises the drug-addled protagonist would likely please a lot of Hunter S. Thompson fans.

Inherent Vice will arrive in theaters in 2014.

Source: The Wrap