Uncut Gems co-director Benny Safdie has tried his hand at acting before, notably playing Robert Pattinson’s brother in Good Time, which he directed with his brother Josh Safdie. But Benny Safdie is stepping in front of the camera without his brother backing him, joining the cast of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s new movie in a major role.
Collider reports that Safdie has been cast as a gay politician in Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming-of-age drama set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, joining already-cast stars Bradley Cooper and Haim band member Alana Haim. Safdie is playing a politician named Wachs, a character reportedly inspired by L.A. City Council member Joel Wachs, who was a “closeted gay man until he was preparing to run for mayor in 1999 at the age of sixty,” according to the New York Times.
This is the most detailed piece of casting we’ve received about Anderson’s yet-untitled drama, which is said to involve “multiple storylines centering around a kid actor attending high school in the Valley,” akin to Anderson’s intersecting storylines in Boogie Nights and Magnolia. We don’t even know yet who Cooper is playing or whether he’s the lead, though based on photos of him that have leaked from set, we can assume he’s playing a character inspired by Jon Peters, an American film producer and Barbra Streisand’s ex.
Anderson is reportedly casting the film with fresh faces rather than recognizable movie stars, hence the filmmaker’s casting of Haim and Safdie, both of whom are recognizable in their respective circles — music and A24/indie movie fans — but not to the wider public. While Safdie has mostly starred in projects directed by him and brother Josh Safdie, it’s no surprise he jumped at the chance to star in Anderson’s film; Safdie has professed to be a major fan of the Phantom Thread filmmaker, singling out Punch-Drunk Love as a favorite film on an episode of A24’s podcast in which the Safdies interviewed Anderson. But Safdie seems to be taking more of an interest in being in front of the camera, reportedly set to play an onscreen role in the Showtime pilot The Curse, for which the Safdie brothers have recently teamed up to work on with Nathan Fielder.
Recently it was reported that Anderson’s film was moving from Focus Features, who distributed his recent flick Phantom Thread, to MGM, due to “budgetary issues.” The movie was supposed to start shooting this summer but has been delayed due to the coronavirus. As of now, the plan is to start shooting in the fall.
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