Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” press tour has officially launched with a Variety cover story that spans topics including the inspirations behind the Oscar-nominated director’s new film and the actors Anderson is dreaming of directing. “Licorice Pizza” stars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman as Alana Kane and Gary Valentine, who fall in love and come of age in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. Anderson told Variety his two biggest touchstones for the film were “American Graffiti” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
Casting “Licorice Pizza” started with Alana Haim, best known for rocking out with her sisters in the band Haim. Anderson wrote Alana’s part for her as “Alana looks like a girl from the Valley; she talks like a girl from the Valley; she is a girl from the Valley. She has a ferociousness. She’s very eager and she’s a quick learner. I don’t know how many more boxes you can tick.” Cooper Hoffman is the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, a frequent collaborator of Anderson’s before his passing. Cooper remains a close friend of Anderson’s family, but the director did not expect to cast the newcomer opposite Haim.
“I wrote it for a blurry 15- or 16-year-old boy,” Anderson said of casting Gary. “I never imagined when I was writing it that it would be Cooper. I thought that I would take the more traditional route and pursue a young actor. There were a few I met that were talented, but most of them already seemed at a young age to be overly trained, overly mannered and overly ambitious, which was not interesting to me.”
Both Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman could be back for another Anderson movie, as the director said, “Once I’ve worked with somebody, I really want to work with them again and again. I really want to work with every single person that’s in this film.” He also wants to get back together with his “The Master” star Joaquin Phoenix.
“I’m very anxious to work with Joaquin again,” Anderson said. “There’s a disproportionate amount of talent in the acting department and a lack of material that rises to their ability.”
And what about actors new to the world of Anderson? Denzel Washington is a dream choice. “That power, the scale of his movie-star power and range, that’s very exciting to think about working with,” Anderson said. Olivia Colman is another dream, as she’s “an absolute powerhouse.”
Of course Anderson is also hoping he gets to direct Daniel Day-Lewis again, although the actor said he was retiring after their last collaboration, “Phantom Thread.” Should Day-Lewis commit to said retirement, Anderson won’t be too angry.
“We can all get together and hope he’ll come back,” Anderson said. “Wouldn’t it be great? When ‘Phantom Thread’ came out, I was asked about it a lot, and I feel the same way now that I did then. Yes, I’m greedy like everybody else. I want more Daniel Day-Lewis performances. But I also think he’s given us more than enough, and we should stop being so greedy. He’s the king.”
Head over to Variety’s website to read Anderson’s cover story in its entirety.