After being rescued from limbo by Megan Ellison, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master is once again moving forward in development, after its scary postponement. Pretty much everybody who’s a fan of the filmmaker (which is pretty much everybody to begin with) agrees that it’s a great thing. And there definitely shouldn’t be any concern about the quality of the film itself; that’s almost guaranteed. Still, isn’t it kind of shame that it seems to have lost Jeremy Renner due to scheduling conflicts and delays? I certainly think so.

Called Untitled Religious Drama for now, its casting is underway and despite the loss of the great actor, Anderson still seems intent on compiling a strong group of thespians. Variety tells us that Joaquin Phoenix, who finished his annoying, long gag on America a few months ago so he could act again, is “in talks” for the film. He’s said to be considered for the part that Renner almost had, which is Freddie Sutton, a “young drifter” who becomes the “right-hand man” of Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s character, Lancaster Dodd, who serves as a metaphor for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The film’s main conflict seems to come from Sutton questioning Dodd’s manipulative actions.

Phoenix seems to fit this part well, as the whole concept of coming back from a tough period (like the character) is something that he just did, and his acting style could match Anderson’s filmmaking sensibilities quite well. Even if he wasn’t a good choice, the involvement of him and Hoffman could help bring the film to the attention of bigger audiences, and I love the idea of a movie like this getting a lot of publicity.

Don’t expect this right away, however; Anderson seems intent on shooting Inherent Vice (based on Thomas Pynchon‘s novel of the same name) with Robert Downey Jr. this fall, and this should come after. While I would prefer to see this first, getting anything from him isn’t something that I would ever complain about. Please just make something else, and do it soon.

Do you think Phoenix would make a good choice for this film?

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