Since “Magnolia,” Paul Thomas Anderson has mostly eschewed the starry ensemble. Not that A-listers haven’t been in his films, but each of his last three films — “Punch Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood” and “The Master” — have been anchored by one or two titanic performances by big names, but have featured supporting casts including a few names from PTA’ s rep company, and other mostly unfamiliar faces.
But it looks like that’s changing with “Inherent Vice,” his currently-prepping adaptation of Thomas Pynchon‘s novel. The film (backed by Warner Bros, making it his first true-blue studio picture) sees him reunite with Joaquin Phoenix for the lead role, with a ridiculously stacked supporting roster on board so far, with Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Jena Malone and Kevin J. O’Connor all signed on. And now, word’s arrived that perhaps the biggest name so far has come on board, with Cigarettes and Red Vines reporting that Sean Penn is circling the project.
The double-Oscar-winning actor has never worked with Anderson before, but there are multilple links; the actor’s brother Michael scored PTA’s first two films, “Hard Eight” and “Boogie Nights,” his mother appeared in “Magnolia,” and perhaps most importantly, Penn was initially slated to take the part eventually filled by Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Punch Drunk Love.” It seems that things are in their early stages, but Cigarettes and Red Vines (who suggest that Penn is probably being looked at for the part of loan shark Adrian Prussia) are well-connected, so we imagine that this’ll be confirmed before too long, bar scheduling conflicts — Penn is soon to shoot actioner “Prone Gunman.” All being well, “Inherent Vice” will hit theaters in 2014.