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From the moment Paul Thomas Anderson revealed his plans to adapt Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice for the screen, we knew he had Robert Downey Jr. in mind to star as Larry "Doc" Sportello, the pothead private detective at the center of the sprawling novel. Now that Downey has cleared up his schedule beyond the Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man sequels, he may actually be able to make it happen. According to Deadline he's "eyeing" the project, which is far from an actual commitment but definitely a good sign.

When Downey Jr. dropped out of both Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity and Sam Raimi's Oz: Great And Powerful, I speculated that he was trying to back away from the giant blockbuster projects and focus more on the kind of envelope-pushing indies that made his name in the late 90s. Inherent Vice with Paul Thomas Anderson would most definitely fit that bill. It'd make Downey Jr.'s fans happy-- though really, at this point, there are plenty of people who would watch the man do anything-- and mark yet another marquee actor to sign on with Anderson and do something different. Basically, it's exactly the perfect match we thought it was back in December.

It's unclear if Anderson will move forward first on this project or The Master, the Scientology-inspired film that recently got bailed out of a financing disaster. It probably goes without saying we'll anticipate both of them intensely.

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