Almost a year ago, we learned that the director of critically acclaimed films like 'Boogie Nights,' 'Magnolia,' and 'There Will Be Blood' was prepping a new film about religion, one that made many folks immediately think of Scientology. 'The Master' would star Philip Seymour Hoffman as a man who starts "a faith-based organization" in the '50s and teams up with a drifter named Freddie (Jeremy Renner), who soon becomes the man's "lieutenant."
But now, unfortunately, the project is postponed indefinitely.
The Playlist reports that both Hoffman and Renner have revealed in interviews that the film has been halted. Renner told Total Film's print edition that it's "postponed indefinitely at this point." He added, "I was really bummed about that. 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." Likewise, Hoffman told Playlist during press for 'Jack Goes Boating' that "I don't have any new information. I really mean that; I'm not being obtuse. I don't quite know what that is at the moment, but hopefully I will and hopefully I'll be part of something soon. It would be great to work with him again."
Makes you wonder what exactly that "wall" is. Is something in the script not working quite right? That seems unlikely since an early draft was well-reviewed by Playlist, and it would have to be one heck of a script problem to halt everything. Was something a bit too true-to-life and they feared Scientology backlash? Maybe, though original word of the feature explained that the "drama does not so much scrutinize self-started churches like Scientology or the Mormons, as much as it explores the need to believe in a higher power, the choice of which one to embrace and the point at which a belief system graduates into a religion." Or maybe it wasn't a thematic issue at all, and the money just couldn't come together. Though Universal was first flirting with the project, they ultimately passed, and then River Road began backing production.
Whatever the reason for the hiccup, let's hope it gets solved pronto, and doesn't become another long-gestating and struggling 'Quixote.'