Benicio Del Toro Will Counsel Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Inherent Vice’

Bryan Enk

The screen adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 gumshoe novel "Inherent Vice" looks to officially be Paul Thomas Anderson's next project as Benicio Del Toro has signed on to join "The Master" star Joaquin Phoenix for the tale of crime, corruption and double/triple/quadruple-crosses.

"Inherent Vice" follows the exploits of Larry 'Doc' Sportello (Phoenix), a down-and-out Los Angeles private dick and pothead who receives a surprise visit from his ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth, who's now the mistress of real estate mogul Mickey Wolfmann. Shasta asks Doc's help in foiling a plot conjured by Wolfmann's wife, Sloane, and her lover, Riggs Warbling, to have Mickey thrown in the loony bin. Complications ensue (to say the least) against the backdrop of the arrest and trial of the Manson Family from the winter of 1969 through the summer of 1970.

Del Toro will be playing the role of an attorney who's always trying to get his pal Doc out of trouble, even though he's not actually a criminal lawyer. While the role isn't a major one, it has lots of scene-stealing potential, according to The Wrap. Del Toro certainly knows how to play somewhat "non-traditional" lawyers in seemingly unfilmable novels after his wild turn as Raoul Duke's attorney Dr. Gonzo in Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

The only other cast member of "Inherent Vice" announced so far is PTA veteran Kevin J. O'Connor, who appeared in both "The Master" and "There Will Be Blood." Charlize Theron was mentioned to be in the running for a role this past January (back when Robert Downey Jr. was somewhat attached to the project) though there's been no official follow-up.

"Inherent Vice" is scheduled to start shooting later this month, which means PTA may be abandoning the practice of releasing a feature film only every five years, as has been the case since "Punch-Drunk Love" in 2002 (followed by "There Will Be Blood" in 2007 and "The Master" in 2012). Meanwhile, Del Toro, who was last seen in last summer's "Savages," will next be seen in the title role of "Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian," which screens this month at the Cannes Film Festival.