Is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Mysterious, Big-Budget New Leonardo DiCaprio Film an IMAX Thomas Pynchon Movie?

Few filmmakers are able to balance Academy Award-contending projects with irreverent, esoteric comedy like Paul Thomas Anderson, and the 53-year-old director’s next project looks like it’ll perfectly toe the line between the two. Anderson’s new film is characteristically shrouded in secrecy, but the drips of confirmed details and the intriguing rumors make it easily one of the most fascinating movies on the horizon. Anderson is working with Hollywood veterans Leonardo DiCaprio, Regina Hall, and Sean Penn, alongside several gifted musicians-turned-actors (Teyana Taylor and Junglepussy), and a prominent newcomer in Chase Infiniti.

Though we haven’t had official confirmation, signs point to the movie being Anderson’s second dip into the Thoms Pynchon bibliography after Inherent Vice, this time tackling his sprawling 1990 novel Vineland. As with any Pynchon work it’s a vast, rich, occasionally befuddling book that explores a wide-range of ideas around 20th century America and hippie culture, topics that seem tailor-made for PTA. Anderson has said the film will shoot in California, Texas, and Mexico. In February, filming in Sacramento created controversy when the production had a homeless encampment moved in order to film in a park.

Below is everything GQ knows about the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson project, though much of the information out there is still rumors. One thing we know for sure, PTA’s next project won’t be his rumored 1970s jazz odyssey with Denzel Washington.

Who is starring in PTA’s next film?

Anderson has brought together eclectic ensembles to great effect in films like Magnolia and Inherent Vice, and the reported cast for his new project is diverse and fascinating. At the top of the marquee are newcomer Chase Ifiniti and Leonardo DiCaprio, the kind of box office powerhouse the director hasn’t really worked with since Tom Cruise. (Back in 2022, PTA put out a casting call for a “mixed ethnicity female American Junior high/freshman student who is physically athletic and excels at Martial Arts,” which is presumably Infiniti.) The always fantastic Regina Hall plays a key role, too, and seems like the perfect performer for the director’s blend of earnestness and askew humor. Other supporting roles will be played by Alana Haim, who made her film debut in Licorice Pizza, Academy Award winner Sean Penn, musical powerhouse and star of A Thousand and One Teyana Taylor, and critically acclaimed rapper Junglepussy.

The script was written by Anderson himself, and sees him reteaming with Licorice Pizza cinematographer Michael Bauman. (Those hoping for a reunion of Anderson and his longtime DP Robert Elswit, the man behind the look of Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and Magnolia, should have stopped holding their breath long ago.) On the production side, Anderson is working with Licorice Pizza collaborators Adam Somner and Sara Murphy.

So…what’s it about?

We don’t know—but the prevailing rumor is that Anderson’s project will be based on Vineland, Thomas Pynchon’s fourth novel, published in 1990. The book is set in California during the Ronald Reagan administration, focusing on the fallout and continued exploits of a group of ‘60s hippies, led by Zoyd Wheeler, who The Guardian once said was “equal parts Homer Simpson and the Dude in The Big Lebowski.” The novel heavily utilizes flashbacks to show the lives of Zoyd, his former partner Frenesi, their teenage daughter Prairie, and a government agent named Brock Vond.

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