The Master, a Scientology parable in the making from There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson, has been "postponed indefinitely" according to one of the film's stars, Jeremy Renner. The actor recently told Total Film magazine 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." Given the film's subject matter — it tells the story of a religion called the Cause that has striking similarities to Scientology — film critics are speculating that some hidden controversy may have pushed the film onto the back burner. Here are three theories:
1. Script issues: "Renner’s statements suggest that the wall constantly confronted in rehearsals had more to do with the screenplay than anything external," says DJ Pangburn at Death and Taxes. Anderson, who's been nominated for Best Screenplay Oscars three times, is known for being a perfectionist. If the script didn't seem to be working well in rehearsal, "it might have convinced the director some rewrites were in order."
2. Scientology or money worries: "It would have to be one heck of a script problem to halt everything," says Monika Bartyzel at Moviefone. A more likely reason to stop production is fear of a Scientology backlash. "Or maybe it wasn't a thematic issue at all, and the money just couldn't come together."
3. Creative Artists Agency (CAA): "Conspiracy theorists have other ideas," says Jack Bremer at The First Post. CAA, Hollywood's leading talent agency, was packaging The Master, and that could have made for an awkward conflict of interest. Two of the agency's biggest clients are outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise and Will Smith, who, while not a known Scientologist, has donated to groups affiliated with the church and "been known to attend Scientology events."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
Subscribe to the Week