After whipping out three features in four years in the late ’90s, Paul Thomas Anderson mellowed his pace during the ’00s. It took three years to get from Magnolia to Punch-Drunk Love, five to get from the latter to There Will Be Blood, and then another five after that to complete The Master. But he’s wasting no time moving on his next project, the Thomas Pynchon adaptation Inherent Vice.

Anderson first signed on to adapt the noir tale in 2010, but then wound up shooting The Master first. Now that that’s behind him, though, Anderson is planning to move into production on Inherent Vice next year. More after the jump.

For those unfamiliar with Pynchon’s book, it centers around a pothead P.I. in ’60s LA named Doc Sportello. One day, his ex appears out of the blue to tell him about a kidnapping plot involving her new love, a rich land developer. As he delves into the case, he uncovers “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.” Or, as Russ puts it: “Think of it like the TV series Terriers as a period piece, with a bit more Big Lebowski thrown in, as well as Pynchon’s trademark verbal tics.”

News of Anderson’s next move comes from a NYT profile of the filmmaker. Anderson’s spoken before of his difficulties in adapting the book (“It’s like somebody dumped bags of gold in front of me and I can only take so much with me. What do I do?”) but as of now, he says he has “a large stack of pages” complete and wants to shoot in 2013.

Whereas There Will Be Blood took inspiration from Upton Sinclair’s Oil! without following it directly, Anderson says Inherent Vice will be a more straightforward adaptation. “It’s more secretarial,” he told the paper. “The credit should be like ‘secretary to the author.’ [...] But it’s no less fun. In some ways it’s just what the doctor ordered right now for me: being more selfless.”

To that end, he seems to be working with the famously reclusive Pynchon, but Anderson won’t say so much as the author’s name. “I would get dangerously close to betraying trust,” he said when asked about any collaboration with Pynchon. But he’s taking inspiration from a few other sources as well, including an underground comic strip called the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers that he calls a “research bible.”

The thought of getting another Anderson film within the next year or two is an exciting one, though he still has a few more pieces to get into place before cameras can roll. Such as the casting. The article offers no mention of Robert Downey Jr., who was circling the lead as recently as last year. But if the project really is on track to shoot next year, expect to get some updates soon.

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