Fans of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and author Thomas Pynchon – who are both known for being idiosyncratic and reclusive artists – have been anxiously waiting to hear about Inherent Vice, an adaptation of Pynchon’s trippy Noir novel that Anderson describes as stepping over the fence into funny stoner movie territory (following his brooding companion period pieces There Will Be Blood and The Master).
We can now confirm that Inherent Vice is going to be Anderson’s next, with funding provided by Oracle heiress Megan Ellison through her Annapurna Pictures banner (The Master, Zero Dark Thirty). Today’s update also indicates that long-rumored star Robert Downey Jr. and Oscar-winner Charlize Theron (who’s only now joined this particular casting conversation) may be locked down for the picture.
Inherent Vice takes place in 1969 Los Angeles, a world where ’50s era social and cultural revolution fever has burn-out leaving the debris of deadbeats and former great thinkers (now addle-minded in marijuana-induced stupors). The proceedings unfold like a pulpy 1940s detective story written by Hunter S. Thompson, with our hero – strung-out private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello – agreeing to help ex-girlfriend Shasta find her new lover and ending up swimming in a pool full of lies, deceit and danger that involves surfers, Thai hookers, dopers, motorcycle gangs, loan sharks and a billionaire land developer (among other bizarre Angeles residents).
Showbiz411 is reporting that Anderson’s moving forward with Inherent Vice and that Downey Jr. and Theron look to be headlining “with more names coming [in the foreseeable future].” Similarly, the site describes Anderon’s Pynchon adaptation as closer to Boogie Nights (stylistically) and anticipates that it could be the auteur’s first mainstream success at the box office.
The idea of Anderson tackling Pynchon’s twisted and winding yarn about the dying 20th-century counter-culture is enticing, not least of all because it compliments his far-reaching post-WW II opus in The Master and the examination of 1970s social upheaval in Boogie Nights; possibly, serving as both a stylistic and thematic bridge between those two allegories for the changing American experience. Similarly, RDJ tackling a character somewhere between The Dude and Sam Spade is a prospect too intriguing to pass over.
It remains to be seen who Theron is playing, but the role of Sloane (the scheming wife of Mickey, Larry’s ex’s boyfriend) seems a reasonable possibility. There is bound to be some compression and exclusion of details from Pynchon’s sprawling shaggy dog mystery novel, but someone of Theron’s stature demands a meatier role (or a scene-stealing one, a la Snow White and the Huntsman). Hence, a memorable femme fatale character seems a good way to go.
More on Inherent Vice as the story develops.