PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
Date of Birth: January 1, 1970
Born in Studio City, California, Paul Thomas Anderson grew up in the valley. His father
Ernie Anderson was a well known voice actor (America's Funniest Home Videos, The Love Boat,
etc.) and created the character Ghoulardi (which Anderson named his production company after)
who was a B Movie/Horror film host in the early 60's and had a huge cult following in the
School never appealed to Anderson and he was asked to leave in sixth grade because of
fighting and bad grades. After Montclair College Prep High School, he spent two semesters
as an English major at Emerson before dropping out, and then enrolled at New York
University Film School but only attended for two days. He always wanted to be a
filmmaker and watching movies was the only education he needed.
At 17, he made The Dirk Diggler Story, a short fictional documentary version of Boogie
Nights. Shot on videotape, the film consisted of interviews with people about Dirk
Diggler. He then began to work as a production assistant on various television movies,
videos and game shows in Los Angeles and New York.
After working in a similar capacity for several small independent films, Anderson wrote
the script for a short film entitled Cigarettes & Coffee and borrowed a camera to shoot
the short film. Cigarettes & Coffee, starring Philip Baker Hall, premiered at the 1993
Sundance Film Festival in the Shorts Program II. From that short, he was able to develop
a feature at the Sundance Institutes Filmmaker's Workshop.
The result was Hard Eight, starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow,
and Samuel L. Jackson which was screened at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival and the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. The film was acclaimed for its complex performances and fascinating human psychology. Film Comment declared Anderson the most promising director of 1997.
Anderson's second film, Boogie Nights, fulfilled on that promise, garnering critical
acclaim and three Academy Award nominations. Starring a cast including Mark Wahlberg,
Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Philip Baker
Hall and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film followed an extended family of filmmakers
struggling to revolutionize the adult entertainment industry. The film also received the
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best New Filmmaker and Anderson garnered the
PEN Center USA West Literary Award for Best Screenplay. Anderson was placed on the map
as one of Hollywood's most innovative and talented young filmmakers.
After the success of Boogie Nights, Anderson was looking to do a smaller project that he
could shoot in about 30 days. He was not exactly successful in that endeavor. Magnolia,
released at the end of 1999, weighed in at slightly more than three hours and featured
his usual trademark of using the same ensemble of actors he has used and reused in
previous works, such as John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Philip Baker Hall. The
film weaved together nine story lines, each connected to the other, with its characters
all shedding their secrets and looking for love, acceptance, redemption and forgiveness in
their various lives. Tom Cruise and Jason Robards also appeared as an estranged son and
Magnolia was released to critical acclaim and garnered several awards, including three
Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe for Cruise. Anderson's next big feature, 2007's There Will Be Blood, also earned three more Oscar nominations, including Best Achievement in Directing. He then took some time away from directing before coming out with his most recent project, The Master (2012) about a war vet who returns home and is lured in by a captivating cult leader.
Anderson still lives in the San Fernando Valley and shares a home with his girlfriend,
singer/songwriter Fiona Apple.
There Will Be Blood(2007)
Hard Eight (1997)
Coffee & Cigarettes (1993)
The Dirk Diggler Story (1988)