Robert Downey, Jr. had initially been attached to take the lead as Larry “Doc” Sportello. But earlier this year, we heard that Downey, Jr. had ultimately moved on from the project, and that Joaquin Phoenix was coming on board in his place.
First up is Benicio del Toro, who is believed to be negotiating for the role of Sauncho Smilax, Doc’s attorney, who practises maritime law, and appears every now and then in the novel to try to help Doc out of trouble. Smilax’s character isn’t a major one in Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, though he is important in his on way, and it’s thought that whilst he won’t be a major role in Anderson’s adaptation either, he is expected to be a potential scene-stealer. And if you’ve read the original, you’ll no doubt understand why.
And alongside that comes word that Owen Wilson is also in talks to star opposite Phoenix. There’s no word on which character Wilson will be playing, but it’s thought that he’s in talks for a leading role, which would suggest that it could that of Mickey Wolfmann, Denis, or perhaps the elusive Coy Harlingen.
Courtesy of Waterstones, here’s the synopsis for the original novel:
Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon – private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog. It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that ‘love’ is another of those words going around at the moment, like ‘trip’ or ‘groovy’, except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.
Anderson is adapting Pynchon’s novel himself, and whilst it’s not been officially acknowledged one way or the other, it’s believed that Pynchon may have had a hand in writing the script alongside him. And at the very least, it’s known that Anderson has Pynchon’s blessing for what will be the first feature adaptation of his work.
I love del Toro for the role of Sauncho Smilax, and think he’d be absolutely amazing as the maritime lawyer.
Wilson is very much a left-field choice for Anderson, who has made some impeccable casting decisions throughout his career, and whoever he’s in talks to play, I think he’d also make a brilliant addition to the cast. He’s shown throughout his career his ability to bring to life an incredibly wide range of characters, which is exactly why I think he could pull off either Wolfmann or Harlingen perfectly.
As a huge fan of the original novel, I can’t wait to see Anderson’s take on it on the big screen. Production is set to begin later this month, and here’s to hoping it will be rolling into theatres in Summer 2014.