Paul Thomas Anderson on upcoming Pynchon adaptation: Screenplay is "more secretarial"

The director says his next film will be a close adaptation of "Inherent Vice"

By Prachi Gupta
December 28, 2012 1:20AM (UTC)
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In a profile issued online today by the New York Times, preeminent director Paul Thomas Anderson, who researched Scientology extensively to portray the relationship between the cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) in 2012's critically acclaimed "The Master," also elaborated on his upcoming project, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel "Inherent Vice." Although news of the project has been around for a while, Anderson revealed new details about its vision and hinted at a possible collaboration with the reclusive author:

His next project, which will take him into another chapter of the century, the late ’60s and early ’70s, is an adaptation of “Inherent Vice,” the 2009 novel by Thomas Pynchon. The book is a stoner private-eye saga, and Mr. Anderson has found an invaluable “research bible,” he said, in the underground comic strip the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

This is the first authorized adaptation of a Pynchon work, which suggests that Mr. Pynchon, famously reclusive, is cooperating in some fashion. But Mr. Anderson, a fan of that author since his teenage years, declined to speak on the record about him and seemed loath even to utter his name. “I would get dangerously close to betraying trust,” he said.

The project presents a "new kind of screenwriting challenge" for Anderson, as the director wants to make it "more faithful" to Pynchon's work than his 2007 film "There Will Be Blood" was to its reference, Upton Sinclair's "Oil!" “It’s more secretarial,” he said. “The credit should be like ‘secretary to the author.' "


Anderson hopes to start filming next year.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Film Adaptations Hollywood Inherent Vice Literature Movies Novels Paul Thomas Anderson Thomas Pynchon