- Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson
Anderson in 2007
Born Paul Thomas Anderson
June 26, 1970
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names P.T. Anderson Occupation Film director, script writer, producer Years active 1988–present Notable works Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master Influenced by John Huston, Samuel Fuller, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jonathan Demme, Orson Welles, Max Ophüls, Robert Downey, Sr. Influenced Miranda July Partner Maya Rudolph
Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He has written and directed five feature films: Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and There Will Be Blood (2007). He has been nominated for five Academy Awards — There Will Be Blood for Best Achievement in Directing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Best Adapted Screenplay; Magnolia for Best Original Screenplay; and Boogie Nights for Best Original Screenplay.
Anderson has been hailed as being "one of the most exciting talents to come along in years" and "among the supreme talents of today." In 2004, Anderson was ranked 21st on The Guardian's list of the 40 best directors. In 2007, Total Film named him the 20th-greatest director of all time. In 2011, Entertainment Weekly named him the 11th-greatest working director calling him "one of the most dynamic directors to emerge in the last 20 years".
Paul Thomas Anderson was born on June 26, 1970 in Studio City, California, to Edwina (née Gough) and Ernie Anderson, who was an actor, the voice of ABC, and a Cleveland television late-night horror movie host known as "Ghoulardi" (for which Anderson later named his production company). Anderson grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He 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 at a young age and started making movies on his dad’s video camera when he was a 12-year-old. He later started using 8 mm film and realized that video was easier. He began writing as a teenager and at the age of 17 he began experimenting with a Bolex 16 mm camera. As a high school student at the age of 17, he made the 30-minute mockumentary using a video camera called The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), about a well-endowed male porn star (inspired by John Holmes, who also served as a major inspiration for Boogie Nights).
After two semesters as an English major at Emerson College and only two days at New York University so he could "garner ammunition" on what he called a "bad situation", Anderson began his career as a production assistant on television movies, music videos and game shows in Los Angeles and New York. With some money he won gambling, his girlfriend's credit card, and $10,000 his father set aside for college, Anderson decided to make a 20 minute film that would be his "college".
The film he made was Cigarettes & Coffee (1993), a short film made for $20,000 connecting multiple story lines with a twenty-dollar bill. The film was screened at the 1993 Sundance Festival Shorts Program and he decided to expand the film into a feature length film and was subsequently invited to the 1994 Sundance filmmakers' lab.
While at the Sundance filmmakers' lab, Anderson already had a deal with Rysher Entertainment to direct his first feature. In 1996, Anderson made his first full-length feature, Sydney, which was retitled Hard Eight (1996). Rysher re-edited the film upon completion but Anderson was able to get his version released but only after he retitled the film and came up with the $200,000 necessary to finish it. Anderson submitted the work print of his cut of the film which was accepted and screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. The version that was released was Anderson's and even though Rysher did nothing to promote it, 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 the summer 1995. The result was Anderson's breakout film Boogie Nights (1997), a full-length major motion based on his short The Dirk Diggler Story. The script was noticed by New Line Cinemas 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. The film received three Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burt Reynolds), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Julianne Moore), and Best Original Screenplay.
After the success of Boogie Nights, Anderson was told by New Line he could do whatever he wanted for his next film and granted Anderson creative control without hearing an idea for the film. Initially wanting to make a film that was "intimate and small-scale" as he started writing, the script "kept blossoming" and the resulting film was the ensemble piece Magnolia (1999), which tells the story of the peculiar interaction among the lives of several individuals in the San Fernando Valley, California. Anderson used the music of Aimee Mann as a basis and inspiration for the film. Magnolia received three Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise), Best Original Song for "Save Me" by Aimee Mann and Best Original Screenplay. In an interview after the film's release Anderson was quoted as saying "... 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 Adam Sandler in the future and that he was determined to make his next film 90 minutes long. His next feature was the comedy/romance film Punch-Drunk Love (2002), partly based on David Phillips (also called The Pudding Guy), starring Adam Sandler with Emily Watson as his love interest. The story centers around a beleaguered small-business owner (Sandler) with anger issues and seven emasculating sisters. Sandler received critical praise for his role in his first major departure from the mainstream comedies which made him a star. Roger Ebert wrote that "Sandler, liberated from the constraints of formula, reveals unexpected depths as an actor. Watching this film, you can imagine him in Dennis Hopper roles. He has darkness, obsession and power." At the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, the film won best director and was nominated for the Golden Palm.
Anderson's most recent film, There Will Be Blood (2007), was loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!. The budget of the film was $25 million, and it gained $76.1 million worldwide. Anderson had previously stated that he wanted to work with Daniel Day-Lewis who starred in and won an Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his role. 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. 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 largely regarded as one of the greatest films of the decade.
In December 2009 Variety reported that Anderson was working on a new script tentatively titled The Master, about a "charismatic intellectual" who starts a new religion in the 1950s. Though the film makes no reference to the movement, it has "long been widely assumed to be based on Scientology." Frequent Anderson player Philip Seymour Hoffman was reported to be attached as the lead. Reese Witherspoon and Jeremy Renner were rumored to star opposite Hoffman but the roles officially went to Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.
It has been reported by several sources that Anderson is now working on an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice, with rumors of Robert Downey Jr in the lead. In February 2011 it was reported that Megan Ellison, daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, would possibly finance both The Master and Inherent Vice.
In addition to films, Anderson has directed several music videos, including several for musician Fiona Apple. Anderson was a standby director for Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion for insurance purposes, as Altman was 80 years old at the time. Anderson was not formally credited in the film, but receives a "Special thanks to ..." toward the end of the closing credits.
Film style, themes and trademarks
Anderson is a member of the first generation of "self taught filmmakers," much like directors Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, and Spike Jonze, who learned the craft not in film schools, but by viewing thousands of movies on video. Anderson learned about filmmaking by watching films by the filmmakers he liked, reading books and magazines about the "technical stuff", and watching films accompanied by director's audio commentary. He believes that film school is a "complete con" because "the information is there when you get it". He cites Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Jonathan Demme, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, and Max Ophuls as his main influences as a filmmaker.
Anderson is known for films set in the San Fernando Valley with realistically flawed and desperate characters. Among the subjects dealt with in Anderson's films are dysfunctional familial relationships, alienation, regret, loneliness, and ghosts of the past. Boogie Nights and Magnolia were noted for their large ensemble casts, Punch-Drunk Love was a short 90 minute film compared to his previous two, and There Will Be Blood was more overtly engaged with politics than his previous films.
Anderson frequently collaborates with many actors and crew carrying them over from film to film. Anderson has referred to the his regular actors as "my little rep company" which includes John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, and Melora Walters. Luis Guzmán is also considered an Anderson regular. With the exception of Paul F. Tompkins, who had an equally minor role in Magnolia, There Will Be Blood had an entirely new cast. Additionally, Robert Elswit has been cinematographer for Anderson's first five features. Anderson also regularly works with producing partners JoAnne Sellar and Daniel Lupi.
Anderson is currently the partner of former Saturday Night Live cast member Maya Rudolph. They have two daughters, Pearl Bailey, born October 2005, and Lucille, born November 6, 2009, and one son, Jack, born July 3, 2011.
- Hard Eight (also known as Sydney) (1996)
- Boogie Nights (1997)
- Magnolia (1999)
- Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
- There Will Be Blood (2007)
- The Master (2012)
- The Dirk Diggler Story (1987)
- Cigarettes and Coffee (1993)
- Flagpole Special (1998)
- Couch (2002)
- "Try" by Michael Penn (1997)
- "Across the Universe" by Fiona Apple (1998)
- "Fast as You Can" by Fiona Apple (1999)
- "Save Me" by Aimee Mann (1999)
- "Limp" by Fiona Apple (2000)
- "Paper Bag" by Fiona Apple (2000)
- "Here We Go" by Jon Brion (2002)
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- Paul Thomas Anderson Resource | Cigarettes & Red Vines | 1999-2011
- Paul Thomas Anderson at the Internet Movie Database
- Esquire magazine profile
Films directed by Paul Thomas Anderson 1990s 2000s 2010sThe Master (2012)
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