"I can't wait to see this," said Justin Long as he hurried down the red carpet at last night's New York premiere of The Master. He was not the only one. From Albert Maysles, to the entire cast of Girls, Miss USA, Arianna Huffington, and Adrien Brody—it seemed as though all of New York had piled into the Ziegfeld Theatre to see the film Paul Thomas Anderson's first film since There Will Be Blood (2007). We don't blame them; The Master boasts a cast of sure-hitters, including Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Joaquin Phoenix. There is also the added enticement of controversy: to what extent is The Master based on Scientology?
Amy Adams and Madisen Beaty, who plays Phoenix's love interest, represented the film on the red carpet. Unsurprisingly, both actresses refused to answer questions about Scientology (although Adam Adams did admit to having read Dianetics "years ago"), so we moved on to other topics such as Phoenix's taste in music. "Me and Joaquin listen to the same music," the 17-year-old Beaty told us. A band the two bonded over? "Sigur Rós! He was talking about some rapper that raps in a different language and you can feel the emotion, and how beautiful that is, and I said ‘I discovered a band that's the same thing, they sound like Arcade Fire but they speak Icelandic,' and he goes, ‘Oh, is it Sigur Rós?', " Beaty laughed. As for the best thing about working with director Paul Thomas Anderson, according to Adams it is "the laughter. I didn't expect that all... his sense of humor mixed with intensity. It's just a really great set to be on."
Controversy over the connection between the film and Scientology is overblown. While Hoffman's character, the titular Master, and Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard might share several occupations (cult leader and science fiction writer being the most notable), the film is much broader in scope. Its focus is on charisma, loneliness, and the quest for salvation, not Tom Cruise. The religion, however, remained a popular topic on the red carpet; and not everyone was as tight-lipped as Adams and Beaty. "From what I've read—I've just read an introduction, so I'm way out of my league—there was a lot of really good stuff about a positive attitude," The Newsroom's Thomas Matthews happily recalled.