Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” is one of the most anticipated films still to come in 2020, but one person lucky enough to have seen the coming-of-age drama is John C. Reilly. Anderson and Reilly are longtime friends and collaborators on “Hard Eight,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Magnolia.” The actor even has a small supporting role in “Licorice Pizza,” which centers on the love story between characters played by Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alana Haim (making her acting debut amid a successful music career as a member of the rock band Haim). Reilly and Haim recently sat down together for Interview magazine to talk all things Paul Thomas Anderson.
“When Paul sent me that first screen test [of Cooper and Alana], I was like, ‘Dude, if you can keep them feeling this free, I think you’ve got a movie,'” Reilly said. “You know the phrase, ‘You can’t take your eyes off her?’ I’ve experienced that feeling before, watching a fireplace or a baby, but rarely with adults. When I visited the set, I remember sitting there and being glued to the monitor, even between takes. I turned to Paul, and I was like, ‘You can’t take your fucking eyes off [Alana].’ He looked at me like, ‘Right?'”
Reilly continued, “The only other actor who makes me feel that way is Joaquin Phoenix. Watching him is like watching a raccoon rummage through garbage cans. What is he gonna do now? Why look at anything else, while this is going on? It’s hard to keep that energy on camera, Alana. Take it from an old clown like me.
Haim reacted quite speechless to Reilly’s praise, only responding, “Oh my god.”
“Licorice Pizza” stars Haim as Alana Kane and Hoffman as Gary Valentine. Per MGM’s official synopsis, the film is the story of the two characters “growing up, running around, and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.” The synopsis adds, “The film tracks the treacherous navigation of first love.”
“I felt melancholic after watching the film, even though it’s about a very sweet and innocent relationship,” Reilly told Haim of the movie. “I think I felt that way because your character is really at sea in so many ways. She’s constantly looking for certainty about something — about anything — but she can’t find it. I remember that feeling when I was young. I would adopt the views of people I admired just to have an opinion.”
MGM (via United Artists) will open “Licorice Pizza” in limited release November 26. The drama will reach its nationwide expansion December 25.