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 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.