Philip Seymour Hoffman has seen work on no less than four of Paul Thomas Anderson’s best known films: Sydney, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch Drunk Love. Even though Hoffman has had ample opportunities to shine for Anderson in supporting roles, his director pal has yet to offer Hoffman the lead on any of his films. But that’s all about to change.
A new collaboration between these two major talents has been announced, and this time Anderson is giving Hoffman the main part. The Capote actor will star as “The Master,” a leader of his own “faith-based organization.” The story is set in the 1950’s and means to explore the relationship between The Master and his right hand man, Freddie, a young drifter turned acolyte eventually turned skeptic. As The Master’s religious movement gains force, Freddie will grapple with doubts about his benefactor and the religion they have manufactured.
An article in Variety says of the film: “The drama does not so much scrutinize self-started churches like Scientology or the Mormons, as much as it explores the need to believe in a higher power, the choice of which one to embrace and the point at which a belief system graduates into a religion.”
Universal is the company considering the project. The estimated budget for this picture is somewhere around $35 million.
Hoffman has already received accolades for his “religious work” when he portrayed a sympathetic if somewhat morally ambiguous priest in Doubt. And I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does when he sinks his teeth into what promises to be a meaty character study. And I have no “doubt” that this film, should it get the green light, will be a revelation.