One of the most anticipated movies of 2012 (or maybe 2013) is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, his first since There Will Be Blood. A 1950s period drama, the movie follows a drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) drawn into the fold of a charismatic leader (the Master of the title, a.k.a. Philip Seymour Hoffman) espousing a newly created pseudo-religious belief system (“the Cause”) to an increasingly devoted following. The drifter finds himself equally drawn to the Master’s daughter (Amy Adams). All of these ingredients would be enough to guarantee attention, but why not add some Scientology into the mix, just for fun?
Several observers have noticed parallels between the story of the Master and his Cause, and the founding of Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard. There are few more potentially dangerous lightning rods in Hollywood productions than making the Church of Scientology angry, as who wants to wake up with John Travolta leaning over your bed, brandishng an E-meter and complaining about your dirty aura. Nevertheless, Anderson and his people deny there is any Scientological allegory in play, so it remains to be seen if The Master will stir up audience acclaim or a nest of angry Thetans, or both.
Meanwhile, photographer Jack Erling was lucky enogh to snap a few photos of the action backstage during filming of The Master, catching extras in costume between takes. No celebs, but you can get a first taste of that vintage Anderson flavor.