During the jail cell scene, Joaquin Phoenix breaks a real toilet. His actions were entirely improvised. Due to the historical past of the building where the scene took place, the toilet was considered "historical." Joaquin had no intentions to break the toilet, nor did he think it was possible.
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The trailers for the film were edited by Paul Thomas Anderson himself without any permission from the studio. The trailers were notable for consisting mostly of footage not featured in the final cut of the film.
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This marked Philip Seymour Hoffman's fourth and final Oscar nomination.
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After a few days of shooting, Paul Thomas Anderson noticed that Joaquin Phoenix would use the whole space where they were filming, even if it was outside the marks, so he told the lightning crew to have the whole space ready to follow Phoenix with the camera if necessary.
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Drinking Jug-Juice, the NAVY slang for imbibing fuel mixed with cans of fruit, was detailed by the staff of the Aircraft Carrier, USS Hornet Museum - one of the locations utilized for the shoot. The scene in which Freddie gets ethanol out of the torpedo on the ship is also based on a true story told by Jason Robards to Paul Thomas Anderson.
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Paul Thomas Anderson has acknowledged that L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology served as partial basis for the character of Lancaster Dodd and his cult, "The Cause." This revelation sparked much discussion in the press, as the Church of Scientology has a long history of litigation against critics of Hubbard. Though the Church released no official comment on the film, Anderson claims that when he screened the film for his friend Tom Cruise, an outspoken Scientology advocate, Cruise erupted with anger, specifically objecting to scenes where Dodd's son Val admits that Dodd made up the tenets of "The Cause," which parallels real-life admissions by Hubbard's son. Anderson has admitted to a heated exchange with Cruise, though both the actor and director have kept details of their argument, and the outcome private.
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Joaquin Phoenix's parents escaped from the infamous Children of God cult in the 1970's.
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Philip Seymour Hoffman had his first drink in 23 years at the wrap party for this film, leading to a relapse of his alcoholism.
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In 2018, Paul Thomas Anderson said that The Master was the film he was the most proud of.
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The very first line in the film, where Freddie is talking on the beach, was entirely improvised.
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The Rorschach "Ink Blot" cards in the hospital scene with the psychologist are real ones. However, he skips from card I to card IV which violates the very strict rules of Rorschach administration.
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The jail cell scene that is used in the film was the first take of the scene. Three takes were filmed.
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In order to achieve the effect of clenching his mouth and talking out of one side, Joaquin Phoenix had his dentist attach metal plates to his teeth with rubber bands to hold them shut. The rubber bands weren't strong enough to hold his mouth shut, so he removed them. But the metal plates, complete with screws that slightly cut up the inside of his cheek, were enough of a constant reminder that it allowed him to play that aspect of the character.
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The Master is Philip Seymour Hoffman's last film with Paul Thomas Anderson following his untimely death in 2014. Hoffman acted in 5 of Anderson's films.
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Peggy Dodd (Amy Adams) makes the announcement that they (The Cause) will be publishing her husband, Mr. Dodd's, second book, The Split Saber, in Phoenix, Arizona, because "Phoenix" symbolizes new beginnings...the same reason Joaquin Phoenix and his family changed their last name from "Bottom" after leaving the Children of God cult.
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Paul Thomas Anderson initially wanted to put his own children in the film during the early scenes set at the portrait studio, but he decided against it because his mixed-race children did not have a period appropriate look.
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According to the editor of the film, Leslie Jones, the hardest part of post-production for the film was the editing of the Window to the Wall sequence.
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Jeremy Renner was originally going to play Freddy when the film was prepped to shoot years ago, but when financing fell through, and Joaquin Phoenix was available following his I'm Still Here (2010) project, the filmmakers were able to cast him.
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The New York Times reported in 2012 that Paul Thomas Anderson had originally conceived the idea of the film 12 years earlier, which would have been in 2000. Intriguingly, this was only one year after Anderson had directed the most famous Scientologist in the world, Tom Cruise, to an Oscar nomination in Magnolia (1999). At the press conference for the world premiere of the film at the Venice Film Festival, Anderson reported that he had screened the film for Cruise out of respect, but that Cruise and Anderson remained friends and any discussions between them would remain private.
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The primary influence for the film was John Huston's 1946 Documentary: Let There Be Light (1980). Director Paul Thomas Anderson has stated that he was taking material from the film "left, right, and center". Producer JoAnne Sellar has also stated that they used the film as a reference for production design and costume design.
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The outtakes reveal that while filming the scene of Master and Quell smoking cigarettes after their first "processing scene," Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix kept cracking up after Hoffman's line, "I like Kools... minty flavor," including in the take that made it into the film. In the film, it cuts away just before Hoffman started laughing.
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Paul Thomas Anderson premiered the film in a surprise 70mm screening at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles in August 2012 following a 4k restoration of The Shining (1980), almost a full month before the official world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Those in attendance were told before the start of The Shining (1980) that there would be a special free screening after the film, but did not reveal that the screening would be the world premiere of this film.
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Paul Thomas Anderson wanted a workprint to match the Avid cut, so he had his editors assemble the physical film daily to match the digital edit by hand. Anderson also bypassed the use of a Digital Intermediate instead color grading the film with a photochemical timer, which resulted in a higher film resolution due to less manipulation of the filmed image.
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The ship carrying the cult is named "Alethia", the Greek word for "Truth". It comes from the prefix "a-" and the word "lethe", which means oblivion. So it literally translates as "un-forgetfulness", which fits the intentions of The Cause of remembering past lives and forgotten memories.
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The decision to shoot in 65mm came from a desire to replicate the look of photos taken by vintage Pressman cameras, which use large-format 4x5-inch film. This also led to the use of the narrower 1.85:1 aspect ratio (65mm has a native aspect ratio of 2.2:1). Anderson initially suggested shooting the film in VistaVision, and test footage was shot in that format, but the shallow-focus effect was not pronounced enough.
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The first motion picture in 16 years to be filmed on 65mm format using Panavision's System 65 camera. Around 85% of the film was shot in this format, with the rest shot on 35mm. The last full-length motion picture to be shot in 65/70mm was Kenneth Branagh's 1996 adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1996).
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After Freddie's moonshine poisons one of the migrant workers at the cabbage farm and Freddie flees on foot, one of the migrant workers shouts "Boricua!" Boricua is not profanity, it is actually a Spanish word meaning a Puerto Rican living in the United States. Joaquin Phoenix was born and spent the first few years of his life living in Puerto Rico before coming to the states, so calling him a boricua is an apt title.
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Initially the film was set up with Universal but fell through due to problems with the scripts and the budget. It was later distributed by The Weinstein Company.
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Paul Thomas Anderson's first feature film to be in the taller 1.85:1 aspect ratio, through the Panavision Super 70 and the standard spherical formats. All of his previous films were Filmed in Panavision (anamorphic) 2.39:1, although Hard Eight was filmed in the Super 35 format. He'll continue to use the 1.85:1 35mm standard spherical format for Inherent Vice (2014) & Phantom Thread (2017), and give them limited 70mm releases as well.
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Reese Witherspoon was considered to play Peggy during the production stage in 2010. Eventually, Amy Adams was cast.
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Chosen as the best film of the half decade by the A.V. Club.
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Freddie hails from Lynn, Massachusetts, which is also where director Paul Thomas Anderson's father, Ernie Anderson was born.
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Paul Thomas Anderson made a conscious decision to have the processing scene at approximately the 30 minute mark in order to give the film rhythm and engage the audience.
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The first of three films in the current decade to be shot in 65mm and screened theatrically in 70mm. The subsequent titles were The Hateful Eight (2015) (also distributed by The Weinstein Company) and Dunkirk (2017).
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The first Paul Thomas Anderson film for which Robert Elswit isn't the cinematographer. He was unavailable, having already signed on to shoot The Bourne Legacy (2012).
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This marks the third collaboration between Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, following Charlie Wilson's War (2007) and Doubt (2008). Both actors received Oscar nominations in the Supporting Actor/Actress categories for both Doubt (2008) and The Master (2012).
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The scene in the desert where Phillip Seymour Hoffman rides a motorcycle was very likely an homage to Melvin and Howard (1980) which was directed by Jonathan Demme. Demme is one of Paul Thomas Anderson's favorite directors and often cites him as a remaining influence on him and his work.
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The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Dern and Rami Malek; and one Oscar nominees: Amy Adams
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Paul Thomas Anderson originally wanted to shoot the film utilizing VistaVision, the same widescreen format that Alfred Hitchcock used on some of his most important films during the late 1950's. Anderson later abandoned this idea in favor of the Super 65 cameras he would end up using. However, in 2019 Anderson would finally use VistaVision for his short film Anima, which served as a promotional video for the album of the same name by Thom Yorke, the longtime Radiohead bandmate of Jonny Greenwood, who composed the score for this film.
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Philip Seymour Hoffman's Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominated performance was the only one in the category not in a Best Picture nominee that year.
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James Franco was rumoured to be linked for the role of Freddie Quell.
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