Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas "P. T." Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American filmmaker. In 1993, he wrote and directed a short film titled Cigarettes & Coffee on a budget of $20,000. An alumnus of the Sundance Institute, Anderson made a deal with Rysher Entertainment to direct his first feature film, the 1996 neo-noir crime thriller titled Hard Eight.
|Paul Thomas Anderson|
Anderson in December 2007
June 26, 1970 |
Studio City, California, United States
|Residence||San Fernando Valley, California|
|Other names||P. T. Anderson|
|Education||Santa Monica College
New York University
|Partner(s)||Maya Rudolph (2001–present)|
Anderson received critical and commercial success for his film Boogie Nights (1997), set during the Golden Age of Porn in the 1970s and 1980s. His third feature, Magnolia (1999), takes place over a single day in the San Fernando Valley, following the interconnected lives of several characters in search of happiness and resolution. It received strongly positive reviews despite struggling at the box office. In 2002, the romantic comedy-drama Punch-Drunk Love, Anderson's fourth feature, was released to generally favorable reviews.
The epic drama There Will Be Blood (2007), set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, centers on a silver miner's efforts to capitalize on the Southern California oil boom. Released after a five-year absence, it garnered wide acclaim from critics. Anderson's sixth film, the drama The Master (2012), was released to critical acclaim. His seventh film, the crime comedy-drama Inherent Vice, based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, was released in 2014, to somewhat polarized reviews, but acclaim from some critics. His eighth film, Junun, is a documentary about the making of an album of the same name. Phantom Thread, which reunited him with There Will Be Blood star Daniel Day-Lewis in his final film peformance, was released in December 2017.
Anderson has been nominated for eight Academy Awards over the course of his career, while his works have earned a further 25 Academy Award nominations and two wins for cast and crew. There Will Be Blood has been named by several critics as the best film of the 2000s. It later ranked, along with The Master and Inherent Vice, in the BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.
Anderson was born June 26, 1970, in Studio City, California, to Edwina (née Gough) and Ernie Anderson. Ernie was an actor who was the voice of ABC and a Cleveland television late-night horror movie host known as "Ghoulardi" (after whom Anderson later named his production company). Anderson grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He is third youngest of nine children, and had a troubled relationship with his mother but was close with his father, who encouraged him to become a writer or director. Anderson attended a number of schools, including Buckley in Sherman Oaks, John Thomas Dye School, Campbell Hall School, Cushing Academy and Montclair Prep.
Anderson was involved in filmmaking from a young age and never really had an alternative plan to directing films. He made his first film when he was eight years old and started making movies on a Betamax video camera which his dad bought in 1982 when he was twelve years old. He later started using 8 mm film but realized that video was easier. He began writing in adolescence, and at 17 years old he began experimenting with a Bolex sixteen millimeter camera. After years of experimenting with "standard fare", he wrote and filmed his first real production as a senior in high school at Montclair Prep using money he earned cleaning cages at a pet store. The film was a thirty-minute mockumentary shot on video called The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), about a pornography star; the story was inspired by John Holmes, who also served as a major inspiration for Boogie Nights.
Anderson attended Santa Monica College before enrolling and spending two semesters as an English major at Emerson College where he was taught by David Foster Wallace, and only two days at New York University before he began his career as a production assistant on television films, music videos and game shows in Los Angeles and New York City. Feeling that the material shown to him at film school turned the experience into "homework or a chore", Anderson decided to make a twenty-minute film that would be his "college".
For $20,000, made up of gambling winnings, his girlfriend's credit card, and money his father set aside for him for college, Anderson made Cigarettes & Coffee (1993), a short film connecting multiple story lines with a twenty-dollar bill. The film was screened at the 1993 Sundance Festival Shorts Program. He decided to expand the film into a feature-length film and was subsequently invited to the 1994 Sundance Feature Film Program. At the Sundance Feature Film Program, Michael Caton-Jones served as Anderson's mentor; he saw Anderson as someone with "talent and a fully formed creative voice but not much hands-on experience" and gave him some hard and practical lessons.
While at the Sundance Feature Film Program, Anderson already had a deal with Rysher Entertainment to direct his first full-length feature, Sydney, which was retitled Hard Eight (1996). Upon completion of the film, Rysher re-edited it. Anderson, who still had the workprint of his original cut, submitted the film to the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, where it was accepted and screened in the Un Certain Regard section. Anderson was able to get his version released but only after he retitled the film, and raised the $200,000 necessary to finish it – he and stars Philip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow and John C. Reilly contributed the funding. The version that was released was Anderson's and the acclaim from the film launched his career.
Anderson began working on the script for his next feature film during his troubles with Hard Eight, completing the script in 1995. The result was Anderson's breakout for the drama film Boogie Nights (1997), which is based on his short The Dirk Diggler Story and is primarily set in Golden Age of Porn during the 1970s. The script was noticed by New Line Cinema's president, Michael De Luca, who felt "totally gaga" reading it. It was released on October 10, 1997 and was a critical and commercial success. The film revived the career of Burt Reynolds, and provided breakout roles for Mark Wahlberg and Julianne Moore. At the 70th Academy Awards ceremony, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including for Best Supporting Actor (Burt Reynolds), Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore) and Best Original Screenplay.
After the success of Boogie Nights, New Line told Anderson that he could do whatever he wanted for his next film and granted him creative control. Though Anderson initially wanted to make a film that was "intimate and small-scale", the script "kept blossoming". The resulting film was the ensemble piece Magnolia (1999), which tells the story of the peculiar interaction of several individuals in the San Fernando Valley. Anderson used the music of Aimee Mann as a basis and inspiration for the film, commissioning her to write eight new songs. At the 72nd Academy Awards, Magnolia received three nominations, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise), Best Original Song for "Save Me" by Aimee Mann and Best Original Screenplay. Anderson stated after the film's release that "what I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make."
After the release of Magnolia, Anderson stated that he would like to work with comedic actor Adam Sandler in the future and that he was determined to make his next film a comparatively shorter length of just 90 minutes. The resulting feature was the romantic comedy-drama film Punch-Drunk Love (2002), starring Sandler, with Emily Watson portraying his love interest. The story centers on a beleaguered small-business owner (Sandler) with anger issues and seven emasculating sisters. A subplot in the film was partly based on David Phillips (also called The Pudding Guy). Sandler received critical praise for his role in his first major departure from the mainstream comedies that had made him a star. At the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, Anderson won the Best Director Award and was nominated for the Palme d'Or.
There Will Be Blood (2007) was loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!. It follows Daniel Plainview, a ruthless silver miner exploiting the Southern California oil boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The budget of the film was $25 million, and it earned $76.1 million worldwide. Daniel Day-Lewis starred and won an Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his role. The film received eight nominations overall at the 80th Academy Awards. Paul Dano received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Anderson was nominated for Best Director from the Directors Guild of America. The film also received eight Academy Award nominations, tying with No Country for Old Men for the most nominations that year. Anderson received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, losing all three to the Coen Brothers for No Country for Old Men. There Will Be Blood was regarded by some critics as one of the greatest films of the decade, some parties further declaring it one of the most accomplished American films of the modern era; David Denby of The New Yorker wrote "the young writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has now done work that bears comparison to the greatest achievements of Griffith and Ford", while Richard Schickel proclaimed it "one of the most wholly original American movies ever made". In 2017, New York Times film critics A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis named it the "Best Film of the 21st Century So Far".
In December 2009, Anderson was working on a new script tentatively titled The Master, about a "charismatic intellectual" who starts a new religion in the 1950s. An associate of Anderson stated that the idea for the film had been in Anderson's head for about twelve years. The Master was released on September 14, 2012 by The Weinstein Company in the United States and Canada to critical acclaim. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell, an alcoholic World War II veteran who meets Lancaster Dodd, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a leader of a religious movement known as "The Cause". Though the film makes no reference to the movement, it has "long been widely assumed to be based on Scientology." The Master received three nominations at the 85th Academy Awards: Joaquin Phoenix for Best Leading Actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress.
Production of Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel Inherent Vice began in May 2013 and ended in August of the same year. The film marked the first time that Pynchon allowed his work to be adapted for the screen and saw Anderson work with Phoenix for a second time. The supporting cast includes Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Martin Short, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Peter McRobbie, Michael K. Williams and Eric Roberts. Following its year-end release in December 2014, the film received two nominations at the 87th Academy Awards: Anderson for Best Adapted Screenplay and Mark Bridges for Best Costume Design.
In 2015, Anderson directed Junun, a 54-minute documentary about the making of the album of the same name by Jonny Greenwood, Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur, and a group of Indian musicians. Most of the performances were recorded at the 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Junun premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival.
Phantom Thread, set during the London fashion industry in the 1950s, was released on Christmas Day 2017. It starred Daniel Day-Lewis in his first acting role since Lincoln in 2012 and is also reportedly Day-Lewis's final performance in a film, following four decades in the profession. The cast also includes Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps and Richard Graham. In September 2016, the U.S. distribution rights were acquired by Focus Features, with Universal handling international distribution. Principal photography began in January 2017. Cinematographer Robert Elswit was unavailable during the production, and despite claims of Anderson acting as his own cinematographer on the film, there is no official credit.
In 2000, Anderson wrote and directed a segment for Saturday Night Live with Ben Affleck titled "SNL FANatic" based on the MTV series FANatic. Anderson was a standby director during the 2005 filming of Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion for insurance purposes, as Altman was 80 years old at the time. In 2008, Anderson co-wrote and directed a 70-minute play at the Largo Theatre, comprising a series of vignettes starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, with a live score by Jon Brion.
Throughout his career, Anderson has also directed numerous music videos, usually for artists who he has also collaborated on films with, including Fiona Apple, Radiohead, HAIM, Joanna Newsom, Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, and Michael Penn. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, Mann, Brion and Penn have scored or contributed music to his films, while Newsom acted in Inherent Vice. Anderson directed a short film for HAIM in 2017, Valentine, featuring three musical performances from the band.
Influences and styleEdit
Anderson only attended film school for two days, preferring to learn the craft by watching films by the filmmakers he liked, as well as watching films accompanied by director's audio commentary. He has cited Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Jonathan Demme, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, Max Ophüls and Robert Downey, Sr., as his main influences.
Themes and styleEdit
Anderson is known for films set in the San Fernando Valley with realistically flawed and desperate characters. Among the themes dealt with in Anderson's films are dysfunctional familial relationships, alienation, surrogate families, regret, loneliness, destiny, the power of forgiveness, and ghosts of the past. Anderson makes frequent use of repetition to build emphasis and thematic consistency. In Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and The Master, the phrase "I didn't do anything" is used at least once, developing themes of responsibility and denial. Anderson's films are known for their bold visual style which includes stylistic trademarks such as constantly moving camera, steadicam-based long takes, memorable use of music, and multilayered audiovisual imagery. Anderson also tends to reference the Book of Exodus, either explicitly or subtly, such as in recurring references to Exodus 8:2 in Magnolia, which chronicles the plague of frogs, culminating with the literal raining of frogs in the film's climax, or the title and themes in There Will Be Blood, a phrase that can be found in Exodus 7:19, which details the plague of blood.
Within his first three films, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, Anderson explored themes of dysfunctional families, alienation and loneliness. Boogie Nights and Magnolia were noted for their large ensemble casts, which Anderson returned to in Inherent Vice. In Punch-Drunk Love, Anderson explored similar themes but expressed a different visual style, shedding the influences and references of his earlier films, being more surreal and having a heightened sense of reality. It was also short, compared to his previous two films, at 90 minutes.
There Will Be Blood stood apart from his first four films but shared similar themes and style such as flawed characters, moving camera, memorable music, and a lengthy running time. The film was more overtly engaged with politics than his previous films had been, examining capitalism and themes such as savagery, optimism, and obsession. The Master dealt with "ideas about American personality, success, rootlessness, master-disciple dynamics, and father-son mutually assured destruction." All of his films deal with American themes with business versus art in Boogie Nights, ambition in There Will Be Blood, self-reinvention in The Master.
Anderson frequently collaborates with many actors and crew, carrying them over from film to film. Anderson has referred to his regular actors as "my little rep company" that has included John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hall, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Melora Walters, and most prominently, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Luis Guzmán is also considered Anderson's regular. Hoffman acted in Anderson's first four films as well as The Master. Except for Paul F. Tompkins, Kevin Breznahan and Jim Meskimen, who all had equally minor roles in Magnolia, There Will Be Blood had an entirely new cast. Anderson is one of three directors – the others being Jim Sheridan and Martin Scorsese – with whom Daniel Day-Lewis has collaborated more than once. Robert Elswit has been cinematographer for all of Anderson's films except The Master, which was shot by Mihai Mălaimare Jr. and Phantom Thread which has no credited cinematographer. Jon Brion served as composer for Hard Eight, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love, and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead for every film since. Dylan Tichenor edited Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, and Phantom Thread. Anderson also regularly works with producing partners, JoAnne Sellar, Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca and Daniel Lupi, as well as casting director Cassandra Kulukundis.
Anderson dated (and frequently collaborated with) singer Fiona Apple during the late 1990s and early 2000s. He has been in a relationship with actress and comedian Maya Rudolph since 2001. They live together in the San Fernando Valley with their daughters Pearl Minnie (born October 2005), Lucille (born November 2009), and Minnie Ida (born August 2013), and son Jack (born July 2011).
Awards and recognitionEdit
Anderson has been called "one of the most exciting talents to come along in years" and "among the supreme talents of today." After the release of Boogie Nights and Magnolia, Anderson was praised as a wunderkind. In his 2002 interview with Jan Aghed, the director Ingmar Bergman referenced Magnolia as an example of the strength of American cinema. In 2004, Anderson was ranked twenty-first on The Guardian's list of the forty best living filmmakers. In 2007, Total Film named him the twentieth greatest director of all time and the American Film Institute regarded him as "one of American film's modern masters." In 2012, The Guardian ranked him number one on its list of "The 23 Best Film Directors in the World," writing "his dedication to his craft has intensified, with his disdain for PR and celebrity marking him out as the most devout filmmaker of his generation." In 2013, Entertainment Weekly named him the eighth-greatest working director, calling him "one of the most dynamic directors to emerge in the last 20 years." In a podcast interview with critic Elvis Mitchell, director Sam Mendes referred to Anderson as "a true auteur – and there are very few of those who I would classify as geniuses", and Ben Affleck in his acceptance speech for the Golden Globe Award for Best Director said "Paul Thomas Anderson, who I think is like Orson Welles." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote that "The Master, the sixth film from the 42-year-old writer-director, affirms his position as the foremost filmmaking talent of his generation. Anderson is a rock star, the artist who knows no limits." As of 2016, Anderson is the only person to win all three director prizes from the three major international film festivals (Cannes, Berlin, Venice).
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