Paul Thomas Anderson Finds His Religion

He starts shooting the drama next month

In what could actually be described as a minor miracle, Paul Thomas Anderson has not only found full funding for his planned poke at offbeat religion (formerly titled The Master and currently nameless), but now has distribution support from The Weinstein Company, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix locked in to star and a shoot gearing up to kick off next month. The Flying Spaghetti Monster be praised in all his noodle-tentacled glory!

Yes, it’s true: while we had been thinking that Anderson would switch to pursuing his Thomas Pynchon novel adaptation Inherent Vice, he’s actually leaning on Megan Ellison’s financing offer to get the religious tale up and running.

According to Deadline, he’s already retooled the script, and the story focuses on Hoffman as an L Ron Hubbard-style character who returns after a horrific tour of duty in World War Two and starts to try to rediscover who he is. Along the way, he creates a belief system that catches on with others looking for meaning in the world, including Phoenix.

With the $35 million he needs to make the movie in hand, Anderson is now also looking at actresses for the female lead, with names such as Benjamin Button’s Madisen Beaty a possibility alongside better-known names such as Amy Adams and Laura Dern.

Whoever he ends up hiring, this is one we’re excited about, even if it does mean finding ways not to talk about how closely it’ll mirror the foundation of Scientology lest the email/postal channels get flooded with the usual reactions…