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Jeremy Renner and Phiiip Seymour Hoffman were both up in Toronto last week promoting their new films (The Town and Jack Goes Boating, respectively), but they both wound up breaking bad news about an upcoming joint project that looking more promising than anything at the festival. The two had been slated to star for Paul Thomas Anderson in The Master, a take on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard that would feature Hoffman as a charismatic cult leader and Renner as his young apprentice. Apparently the three had started rehearsals together and everything, but as Renner told Total Film's print edition (via The Playlist), progress has stopped.

"I was really bummed about that. It really kind of stalled because when we were rehearsing — Phil, Paul and myself — we kept coming up against a wall that we couldn't overcome. Or at least Paul couldn't overcome."

Hoffman confirmed as much talking to The Playlist at the festival, saying vaguely "I don't quite know what that is at the moment, but hopefully I will and hopefully I'll be part of something soon. It would be great to work with him again." It's unclear exactly what the hurdle is-- was Anderson unhappy with the performances, or his writing, or are the Scientologists striking back somehow?-- but it doesn't surprise me at all to hear that the auteur behind There Will Be Blood wouldn't go forward with something until he thinks it's perfect. All we can really do is hope this is one of those delays that allows Anderson to come back swinging with even stronger material, and not the kind that leaves him in a morass for 10 years. Keep hope alive, everybody.

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