Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s plans to begin shooting his next project, The Master, fell through last month – now it seems the film might not happen at all.

Jeremy Renner – who was set to costar in The Master – was interviewed for the most recent printing of Total Film and admitted that the project has been “postponed indefinitely at this point.” He went on to mention that “[production on ‘The Master’] stalled because we were rehearsing – [Philip Seymour Hoffman], Paul and myself – we kept coming up against a wall that we couldn’t overcome.  Or at least Paul couldn’t overcome.”

The Master was to revolve around around a charismatic figure (the role Hoffman signed on for) who begins “The Cause,” a religious cult that garners a dedicated following in 1950s America.  Renner was to play the figure’s apprentice and loyal servant, Freddie Sutton, alongside Reese Witherspoon as the wife of “The Master.”  Three up-and-coming actresses were in talks for the role of Elizabeth, the daughter of Hoffman and Witherspoon’s characters.

Early script reviews of The Master pegged “The Cause” as bearing a strong resemblance to Scientology, which was founded by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard back in 1952.  The proposition that a film would involve controversial religious subject matter and feature Anderson behind the camera was very much an intriguing one – albeit one with limited commercial prospects.  That fact may not directly account for the indefinite postponement of The Master, but it certainly did not help matters.

The would-be main players in 'The Master.'

The Master is not necessarily doomed to become another masterpiece-in-the-making that never made it past the screenplay stage, but it is in a tricky spot.  Renner has a jam-packed schedule for the next couple of years and might have to withdraw from the P.T. Anderson project if production does not get back into gear in a timely manner.

Anderson is widely-recognized as a creative force to be reckoned with and he will undoubtedly begin work on a new film in the near future – whether that will be The Master or an entirely different project remains to be seen for now.

Source: Total Film (via The Playlist)