Paul Thomas Anderson and Philip Seymour Hoffman: Together again.

My heart rate is elevated, and I’m typing as fast as I can.

My favorite American filmmaker is working with one of my favorite American actors, and the film looks like just the thing to stir up an exciting conversation.

As of yet, no official word on a title. (Variety implies that it might be called Master or The Master, but that’s unclear.)

The first time I saw Hoffman in an Anderson film, he played a nurse, and it was a beautiful thing to see. Considering the increasingly theological implications of Anderson’s stories, I cannot wait to see what he does with this story:

“There Will Be Blood” writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is working on his next project, a period drama to star Philip Seymour Hoffman as a founder of a new religious organization in the 1950s. The project is set up at Universal, which will make a decision about whether to greenlight the pic, with a $35 million budget, once Anderson delivers a finished script.Hoffman, who has played supporting roles in most of Anderson’s past films, this time will be at the center, playing “the Master,” as in “master of ceremonies,” a charismatic intellectual who hatches a faith-based organization that begins to catch on in America in 1952. The core is the relationship between the Master and Freddie, a twentysomething drifter who becomes the leader’s lieutenant. As the faith begins to gain a fervent following, Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.

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.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • shack

    You had me at P.T. Anderson and P.S. Hoffman…

  • Chris

    I can get why you were excited…just that short description has me intrigued. I think in a lesser filmmaker’s hands this type of work could be snide, condescending and mean-spirited…PTA has proven time and again that he is one of the most thoughtful, in-depth and spiritual filmmakers currently working. And PSH is always* spellbinding.

    * = always does not include “Twister” and “Along Came Polly.”

  • Gene Branaman

    Interesting! So Mr Hoffman is kinda gonna play L Ron Hubbard. In Anderson’s hands this could be very compelling.