The buzz on The Master couldn’t not be at a higher pitch. Couched in mystery, the film has earned the raves and gold trophies of those that have seen it, and the curiosity and preemptive protest of those that have yet to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film.
A jam-packed premiere in New York City on Tuesday night drew fans, a throng of media and, maybe, outraged Scientologists that have been riled up by the film’s basis in the early days of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics movement. There was extra security hired by the film’s distributor, The Weinstein Company; whether they were required, or even scared off potential protestors, was hard to determine in the thick of the crowd in front of the Ziegfeld Theater on 54th street in Manhattan.
With co-stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman not able to make the event, Amy Adams, who plays the true-believer wife of Hoffman’s cult leader Lancaster Dodd, was charged with speaking with the press. She has a number of films coming out over the next few months, and one, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic novel On the Road, offers many unexpected similarities to The Master: a post-World War II setting, lost souls, and small communities.
“I’ve started to think about that, because there’s been a sort of parallel in a couple of the roles I’ve taken,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a lot of longing and loss.”
Though it is set in modern times, another of her upcoming films, The Trouble With the Curve, also deals with issues of generational conflict. She plays the daughter of Clint Eastwood’s aging baseball scout in the film, but was tentative — if a bit smiley — when asked about his recent chair-admonishing speech at the Republican National Convention.
“No, I’m on an internet ban, so I haven’t seen it,” Adams said. “But I heard it was interesting.”
One of her co-stars in The Master, Madisen Beaty, plays all of her scenes with Phoenix, and the young actress, who previously appeared in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, says that the leading man was intimdating to work with — at first.
“He was, but luckily I got to know him at the screen test,” she said. “We got to know each other on a personal level. It was nerve wracking at first. But we really connected on an artistic level. We listened to the same music and we watched the same kind of movies, and we connected on that.”
One of the groups they both enjoyed, she offered, was Icelandic group Sigur Ros.
She also embraced the fast-paced minds of Anderson and his lead actors.
“It’s just intense. It was really focused,” she explained. “And I went in extremely nervous, but Joaquin and Paul both really try their best to put you at ease, and you are at ease. And once you get on set, the creative energy is just flowing. Yeah, in terms, it was staying in character, but we just stayed very focused on the scenes and were constantly talking about how we can change it and what we can add.”
For her part, Adams says that the intensity was something that she embraced.
“Whenever I go into a character,” she said, “I think I start with true belief, and it was actually something I enjoyed diving into that passion and loyalty.