“The Master” is P.T. Anderson’s proposed film centering on the charismatic leader of a religious cult named The Cause.
Those who read early drafts of the script saw parallels between Anderson’s script and L. Ron Hubbard and his Church of Scientology. Philip Seymour Hoffman was set to play the cult leader, while Jeremy Renner was rumored to be playing his apprentice Freddie Sutton.
After Universal bowed out, River Road stepped in to take over the production, but in an interview with Total Film, Jeremy Renner said the project has been “postponed indefinitely at this point.” He went on to say:
“It really kind of stalled because when we were rehearsing — Phil, Paul and myself — we kept coming up against a wall that we couldn’t overcome. Or at least Paul couldn’t overcome.”
Renner’s statements suggest that the wall constantly confronted in rehearsals had more to do with the screenplay than anything external. Paul Thomas Anderson is an exacting writer and director, so if something just isn’t flowing with the narrative and characters, it might have convinced the director some rewrites were in order.
If not creative in nature, is the “wall” simply a matter of financing, the routine killer of any exciting project? It could be that financiers are balking on the proposed budget. P.T. Anderson is known for making relatively complex and big budget dramas. It might not be cost-effective in this economy.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the wall appeared in the form of Scientologist’s within the film industry trying to block production. The organization has been known to use less-than-savory tactics in dealing with critics and former members. Take a look at the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson as well as Operation Snowhite in which the organization infiltrated 136 government agencies to destroy records. Or research Operation Freakout, a plan to have journalist and author Paulette Cooper either imprisoned or committed to a mental institution (ironic considering their hatred of psychiatry). Evidence of Operation Freakout was later uncovered by the FBI during an investigation into the Church of Scientology.
Do you think Scientologists are to blame for the postponement or that rehearsals revealed script problems that needed ironing out?
If the former is the case, then perhaps the individuals known as Anonymous will once again take to the streets with their V for Vendetta masks and protest.