No one will ever accuse director Paul Thomas Anderson of lacking ambition. From a manic exploration of the porn industry in Boogie Nights to the intense period drama The Master, Anderson has proven over and over again to be a visual stylist attracted to difficult-to-adapt subject matter. Now, he's looking to break new ground by being the first to adapt a Thomas Pynchon novel for the silver screen with Inherent Vice.
With principal photography set to commence this month, Anderson is still rounding out Inherent Vice's already formidable cast. The latest additions to the ensemble will apparently include Reese Witherspoon (Mud), Martin Short (Frankenweenie), and Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
Deadline first reported that Witherspoon would join the cast of Inherent Vice, and The Wrap shared the news that Malone and Short were onboard as well. The three join a cast that will be headlined by Joaquin Phoenix (I'm Still Here), Owen Wilson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and reportedly Benicio del Toro (Savages).
Inherent Vice follows the exploits of perpetually stoned private detective "Doc" Sportello (Phoenix) as he trolls the underworld of 1970s California in search of a missing ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth. Sportello soon finds himself in over his head, caught up in a network of conspiracies that involve real estate moguls, loan sharks, and the LAPD – all while dealing with the paranoid side-effects of his drug habit.
Witherspoon has been all but confirmed to be playing Hepworth, which will pair her once more with fellow Walk the Line star Phoenix. Meanwhile, Malone will be playing Japonica Fenway, a young runaway and drug addict previously helped by Sportello.
Short's role remains mysterious for the moment. Given Pynchon's penchant for stories with immense casts of quirky characters, the comic veteran could be playing any number of roles. A likely candidate is Mickey Wolfmann, an eccentric real estate tycoon with whom Shasta Hepworth is having an affair.
Anderson has shown that he has no trouble in assembling top-notch casts perfectly suited to their roles. Though this is the first time any of the three most recent additions to Inherent Vice have ever worked with the director, we have no doubt that they'll be invaluable additions to the project.
That said, don't expect to see too much of Malone, Witherspoon, and Short in the final product. While Hepworth and Fenway are important parts of Inherent Vice's broken jigsaw puzzle of a plot, they have only a little "screen time" in the novel. It's very much Sportello's (and thus, Phoenix's) story.
This, of course, may change depending on how Anderson decides to change and finesse Pynchon's twisted prose into a workable screenplay. We at Screen Rant are looking forward to finding out just how that will all work out.
Inherent Vice will appear in theaters sometime in 2014.