Paul Thomas Anderson says he based ‘The Master’ on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard

Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly regarded new film, The Master, has become one of the most talked about films if the year. Now that the film has had its official debut at the Venice Film Festival, a press conference at the showing had the director finally opening up about his first film since There Will Be Blood, and he has finally admitted that the film is indeed based on Scientology founder L’ Ron Hubbard.

“I based it on L. Ron Hubbard, a lot of it related to the early days of Dianetics,” he revealed. “I don’t know much about Scientology. But I do know a lot about the beginning of the movement. It inspired me to use it as a backdrop for these characters.” The director also said he showed the film to Scientologist Tom Cruise, who starred in his film “Magnolia.” “We are still friends. Yes, I showed him the film and the rest is between us.”

However, the story of the two central characters goes much deeper. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays The Master of the title, and Joaquin Phoenix plays a troubled WW2 vet Freddie Quell. Quell joins The Masters religious group known as The Cause and the two form a friendship built out of mutual respect, love and the want to live like the other has:

Philip Seymour Hoffman describes the story as  “the age-old story of a man who needs guidance, finds a mentor, they become co-dependent, the man leaves, and the one who is actually hurt is the mentor.” He continues  “I don’t think they see something in each other, they feel something in each other. I think they identify with each other. They’re coming from different places but they’re more the same, they’re both wild beasts I think. One of them has just tamed it somehow and he’s trying to teach other people how to do that. But ultimately that’s where the doubt comes in, where the whole reluctant prophet thing comes in. Ultimately, he wants to be wild like Freddie is, so there’s this real attraction there over those two things: wanting to be tame [his inner beast] and wanting to be wild. I think that’s basically what life is.”

Hoffman then joked “We all wake up each morning and think, ‘Why can’t I just run naked through the streets of Venice and eat shit and have sex with everyone I see?’ But no, we can’t do that, and so sometimes we need a Master to help make sense of the world”

Joaquin Phoenix has been a revelation in the film, receiving some huge applause for his terrific role, and while he stayed mostly silent during the press conference, Anderson admitted he has been trying to work with Phoenix for years: “When I was writing the film I was thinking about Joaquin being in it,” he said. “I’ve asked him to be in just about every other movie I’ve made and he’s said ‘no.’ Cause he’s a little bit of a pain in the ass. But it’s worth it. And he said ‘yes’ this time. And thank God he did.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a long time friend of Anderson, and has worked with him on Punch Drunk Love, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, and Anderson consulted Hoffman about casting Amy Adams: “Amy was somebody that since I saw in ‘Catch Me If You Can‘ and ‘Enchanted‘ and ‘The Fighter,’ I knew I just loved her work and I asked Phil how she was to work with and he loved working with her.”

Anderson chose to film The Master using 70mm, something that has rarely been used since the 70’s, and he went on the talk about his decision: “We’d been messing around, trying to find something, to see maybe what the film would look like. We were just messing around with cameras and Panavision recommended this big huge camera that’s as big as this desk. And we tried it on for size and it looked great,” he said before adding that “we didn’t really think it through because the camera broke all the time and made a lot of noise. You can still hear the camera rolling in the film, we just put fan noises over it so you couldn’t tell that it was the camera.”

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Arriving in UK cinemas on 9th November, the film stars  Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Rami Malek, Laura Dern and Jesse Plemons. Anderson both wrote and directed the film, and Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood created the score.


A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master unfolds the journey of a Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future — until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Starring Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Dern.

(Source: IndieWire)

By Matt Wavish

About Matt Wavish 10001 Articles
A keen enthusiast and collector of all horror and extreme films. I can be picky as i like quality in my horror. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a classic, but as long as it has something to impress me then i'm a fan. I watch films by the rule that if it doesn't bring out some kind of emotive response then it aint worth watching.

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