Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest, “Inherent Vice” is a major gear shift for the director of the much more opaque and sinister “The Master” and “There Will Be Blood.” The filmmaker’s talked about making a pure comedy for quite some time, and while we wonder if it’ll ever happen (PTA’s sensibilities thankfully being a little too askew), perhaps this adaptation of Thomas Pynchon‘s idler gumshoe novel will be the closest he gets for some time. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, “Inherent Vice” reads something like Raymond Chandler meets the Venice Beach slacker stereotype of that era mixed in with just a smidgen of “Cheech & Chong.” The novel, like the film, follows an inept, pot-smoking private detective Doc Sportello (played by Joaquin Phoenix) as he investigates the case of a kidnapped girl, who also happens to be one of his ex-girlfriends. It’s very much “The Big Sleep” meets Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” (another Chandler adaptation) and it should be interesting to see PTA take a more loose and languid approach to this hazy age of cannabis and low-gear layabouts (and yes, it’s “The Big Lebowski“-esque on the surface, but it’s also its own beast).
Meanwhile The Wrap is reporting that Benico del Toro has joined the cast. He will play Sportello’s shady attorney who’s acutally not an actual criminal lawyer, but gives counsel nonetheless to the protagonist and helps him get out of tight spots. It’s not a major role in the book, but del Toro is known for scene chewery, so it could be a fun bit of scene-stealing. “Inherent Vice” should start shooting later this month and they’ll be doing it on Warner Bros. dime, not Annapurna Pictures as previously thought.
Several key characters have yet to be cast including the aforementioned female Shasta Fay Hepworth, who comes to Doc’s doorstep, but then mysteriously disappears, her new boyfriend real estate mogul Mickey Wolfmann and Lieutenant “Bigfoot” Bjornson, a L.A.P.D. officer who is Sportello’s constant nemesis, to name just a few major roles. Character actor Kevin J. O’Connor (“There Will Be Blood,” “The Master”) has also joined the cast in an undisclosed role according to PTA’s fansite, but we’re assuming it’s probably not one of the meatier ones. Charlize Theron was once rumored for a role, presumably that of Shasta, but nothing’s come to pass of that report it seems. More casting news should turn up soon.