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The Envelope Screening Series

'The Master': Research can transform an idea [Video]

November 16, 2012|By John Horn

For writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, creating the script for "The Master" was essentially a two-step process.

First, he created a character, Freddie Quell, in search of a story. Then Anderson buried himself in research to "fill up the tank" of the plot, looking for ideas and themes that ultimately add up to "time better spent than actual typing."

In this excerpt from The Envelope Screening Series, Anderson, discussing his first film since 2007's "There Will Be Blood," talks about how he keeps himself open to finding material in every place he looks. "The Master" stars Joaquin Phoenix as Quell, an alcoholic drifter, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a movement eager to change Quell's life.  

"Sometimes you come across something that's just too good. You have to grab it," says Anderson, who focused some of his research on the formation of the Church of Scientology. 

You might have a "half-baked" idea, he says, and then you stumble upon something that transforms that idea into usable material. "It's not completely random," Anderson says. "It's waiting for me to discover it."


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