Despite Thomas Pynchon’s knack for vivid, cinematic language and his own avowed love of film, his novels haven’t exactly proved easy to adapt for the big screen, primarily because they’re so densely constructed that any adaptation would be, by its very nature, a dumbing down—and even then you’d still run the risk of ending up with something completely incomprehensible. However, if there’s one director who may finally be up to the challenge, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson: Vulture reports that the director of Magnolia and There Will Be Blood is interested in tackling Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, his 2009 noir about a paranoid, pothead private detective dealing with a mystery involving his ex-lover and a shadowy organization known as the Golden Fang. Since his sort-of-Scientology film was scrapped due to “budget issues,” Anderson is now rumored to be working on an early draft of the script as his possible next project, while Robert Downey Jr. is said to be a favorite so far to play the lead, Doc Sportello (although that could probably be said of just about any modern-day script featuring a quirky hero).
Although it was called “Pynchon Lite” in some reviews, Inherent Vice still boasts an incredibly knotty storyline and a sprawling cast of characters, something that Anderson may be better suited for than any director working currently, now that Robert Altman is dead. And of course, there are some other odd compatibilities, like the fact that both Anderson and Pynchon tend to be a little paranoid: Vulture recounts the lore of how Anderson “never set foot in his own talent agency” and always demanded to talk to his rep via private cell phone so no one else could listen in. And Pynchon, of course, is the incredibly reclusive guy whose only public “appearances” have been on The Simpsons with a bag over his head.