The more we hear about Paul Thomas Anderson (is it too much to call him ‘The Master’ at this point?) adapting Thomas Pynchon’s soft-boiled noir Inherent Vice to the screen, the less we want to wait until 2014 for it. The latest news is that the auteur will retain the heavy constellation of 1970 SoCal characters, and has signed on a crew of serious ringers to play them. Some guesses about the casting below.
We know that Joaquin Phoenix will play the lead, pot-addled private eye Doc Sportello. It’s the role of a lifetime, should the humor and pathos find some balance. Sean Penn seems to be hovering near the project and, judging from his criminal turn in the laughable Gangster Squad, might be a good fit for Mickey Wolfmann, the real estate mogul at the center of the mystery—though that’s not necessarily a lot of screen time. Going to guess that Reese Witherspoon, already on board, is playing Doc’s blonde hippie ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth.
For my money, though, the the part you want is that of Lieutenant Bigfoot Bjornsen, a massive and meddling cop who spends a lot of time threatening, manipulating, and insulting Doc Sportello. On size alone, this could go to Bencio del Toro, though that would be a hell of a bleach job. Character actor Kevin J. O’Connor would be fairly perfect as mysterious dentist Rudy Blatnoyd, and so would Martin Short, while Jena Malone, whom we’ve not seen enough of since Donnie Darko and Saved!, has most likely landed the most absurd Pynchon name of all time: Japonica Fenway.
Really, though, the possibilities are endless, and one pivotal character—Denis, Doc’s even-more-burnt-out best friend and partner of sorts—is bound to be an audience favorite. Will it go to Owen Wilson? Probably. Either way, the ensemble is shaping up to be one for the record books. We can look forward to Inherent Vice filling out the 2015 Oscar nominations for supportive acting, at least.