Paul Thomas Anderson is working on a film, working title The Master to star Philip Seymour Hoffman as a L. Ron Hubbard analogue:
Let’s look at what we know about the P.T. Anderson project. It centers around a man (Philip Seymour Hoffman, the only name currently attached to the film) who starts a faith-based organization that becomes popular in 1952 America — exactly the year L. Rob Hubbard expanded his Dianetics self-help system and established the Church of Scientology. The film explores “The Master’s” relationship with a young drifter named Freddie who joins the fold and becomes his Number 2 officer, only to later question both the faith and its figurehead in later years — something plenty of high and low ranking Scientologists alike have done over the years, many publicly denouncing the organization on their way out. The Master employs interrogation-style psychotherapy procedures not unlike the “audit” process basic to Scientology, and spends time living in seclusion with his inner circle on a ship, which Hubbard himself did in the 1960s. […] More recently, trade paper Production Weekly reported that Reese Witherspoon had been offered a role in The Master; The Wrap’s Deal Central speculated she would play Mary Sue, the young, pregnant wife of Hoffman’s character. Mary Sue Whipp, of course, was the name of Hubbard’s much younger third wife who became involved in Dianetics in the 1950s and helped him run his Scientology empire. The role of The Master’s daughter is also being cast, with Amanda Seyfried, Emma Stone, and Deborah Ann Woll rumored to be in the running. Also linked to the project is Jeremy Renner, who had been up for the role of Freddie, though his involvement is as yet unconfirmed.
Universal passed on the film, reportedly balking at the $35 million budget, but of course there’s rampant speculation that the budget wasn’t the only reason. The Wrap reports that River Road picked up the film instead.