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Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an Americanmarker film director, screenwriter, and producer. He has written and directed five feature films: Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and There Will Be Blood (2007). He has been nominated for five Academy Awards - There Will Be Blood - (Best Achievement in Directing, Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Adapted Screenplay), Magnolia (Best Original Screenplay) and Boogie Nights (Best Original Screenplay).

Early life

Anderson was born in Studio City, Californiamarker, the son of Bonnie (née Gough) and Ernie Anderson, who was an actor, the voice of the American Broadcasting Company, and a Clevelandmarker television late-night horror movie host known as "Ghoulardi". Anderson grew up in the San Fernando Valleymarker. He attended a number of schools, including Buckley in Sherman Oaks, John Thomas Dye School, Campbell Hall Schoolmarker, Cushing Academy and Montclair Prep. He dropped out of New York Universitymarker after two days because one professor dismissed Terminator 2 and another gave him a C grade after handing in a David Mamet scene from "Hoffa" as his own (proving his point). He disagreed with their views on film.


Anderson was involved in filmmaking at a young age. As a high school student, he made the 30-minute mockumentary The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), about a well-endowed male porn star (inspired by John Holmes, who also served as a major inspiration for Boogie Nights).

After a brief stint as an English major at Emerson Collegemarker and an even shorter time at New York Universitymarker, Anderson began his career as a production assistant on television movies, music videos and game shows in Los Angeles and New York. He later made Cigarettes & Coffee (1992), a short with five vignettes set in a diner (not to be confused with Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes.) The film was screened at the 1993 Sundance Festival, where it received considerable acclaim. In a few years, Anderson made his first full-length feature, Sydney, which was retitled Hard Eight (1996).

Anderson's breakout film Boogie Nights, revisiting his Dirk Diggler character in a full-length major motion picture, was released on October 10, 1997 to critical and commercial success. It was one of the best-reviewed films of the year and is widely considered one of the finest depictions of the porn film industry. The film revived the career of Burt Reynolds (who was nominated for an Oscar) and launched Mark Wahlberg and Julianne Moore onto the A-list of serious actors.

Anderson's next film was the ensemble piece Magnolia (1999), which tells the story of the peculiar interaction among the lives of several individuals in the San Fernando Valley, Californiamarker. Interweaving nine separate yet connected storylines, Magnolia featured many intricately blocked extra-long shots, in a style quite distinct from that of mainstream Hollywoodmarker films. Magnolia was featured on over 150 critics top 10 lists of 1999, and received three Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise), Best Original Song for "Save Me" by Aimee Mann and Best Original Screenplay. In an interview after the film's release Anderson was quoted as saying "... what I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make."

Anderson returned with the comedy/romance feature Punch-Drunk Love (2002), starring Adam Sandler. The story centers around a beleaguered small-business owner embarking on a romantic journey with a mysterious woman (Emily Watson). Sandler won positive reviews for his role in his first major departure from the mainstream comedies which made him a star; Roger Ebert wrote that "Sandler, liberated from the constraints of formula, reveals unexpected depths as an actor. Watching this film, you can imagine him in Dennis Hopper roles. He has darkness, obsession and power." The film earned only $17 million despite a $25 million budget.

Anderson's most recent film, There Will Be Blood, was a loose adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!. The budget of the film was $25 million, and it gained $40 million in sales. It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, who won an Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his role, as well as Paul Dano who received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Anderson was nominated for Best Director from the Directors Guild of Americamarker. The film also received eight Academy Award nominations, tying with No Country For Old Men for the most nominations. Anderson received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, losing all three to the Coen Brothers for No Country For Old Men.

Film style, themes and trademarks

Anderson is known for films with large ensemble casts and interweaving storylines, as in the case of Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999). Anderson is a member of the first generation of "VCR filmmakers," much like directors Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, and Kevin Smith, who learned the craft not in film schools, but by viewing thousands of movies on video.

Among the themes dealt with in Anderson's films are familial relationships, divine fate, the serendipitous nature of love, and the role of contemporary media. Anderson stresses the interconnections among his characters as volatile circumstances affect their fragile lives. Anderson's stylistic trademarks include logistically difficult steadicam-based long takes (such as the three-minute opening shot in Boogie Nights), often with emphatic use of sound and music.

In addition to films, Anderson has directed several music videos, including several Fiona Apple pieces. Anderson was a standby director for Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion for insurance purposes, as Altman was 80 years old at the time. Anderson was not formally credited in the film, but receives a "Special thanks to ..." toward the end of the closing credits.

His production company is named after his father's "Ghoulardi" late-night Cleveland television show host character.

Anderson has had a habit of reusing certain actors. Of his first four feature films, Philip Seymour Hoffman appeared in all four, Melora Walters, Luis Guzmán, Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly each appeared in three, and other members of the Boogie Nights cast also appeared in Magnolia. With the exception of Paul F. Tompkins, who had an equally minor role in Magnolia, There Will Be Blood had an entirely new cast. Additionally, Robert Elswit has been cinematographer for all of Anderson's features.

Personal life

Anderson and singer Fiona Apple had a relationship for several years; she appears with him in the making-of video diary on the DVD of the film Magnolia. Anderson is currently in a relationship with former Saturday Night Live cast member Maya Rudolph. They live in both Los Angeles and New York City and have a daughter, Pearl Bailey Anderson, born on October 15, 2005. They are expecting their second child, as was announced during a press tour of The View, The Late Show with David Letterman, and the Robin Schwartz Show on May 12, 2009.


Feature films

Short films

  • The Dirk Diggler Story (1987)
  • Cigarettes and Coffee (1993)
  • Flagpole Special (1998)
  • Couch (2002)

Music videos

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards:
  • 1997: Best Screenplay - Original (Boogie Nights, nominated)
  • 1999: Best Screenplay - Original (Magnolia, nominated)
  • 2008: Best Director (There Will Be Blood, nominated)
  • 2008: Best Picture (There Will Be Blood, nominated)
  • 2008: Best Screenplay - Adapted (There Will Be Blood, nominated)

BAFTA Awards:
  • 1997: Best Screenplay - Original (Boogie Nights, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Director (There Will Be Blood, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Film (There Will Be Blood, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Screenplay - Adapted (There Will Be Blood, nominated)

Berlin Film Festival:
  • 2000: Golden Bear (Magnolia, won)
  • 2008: Silver Bear for Best Director (There Will Be Blood, won)
  • 2008: Golden Bear (There Will Be Blood, nominated)

Cannes Film Festival:

Directors Guild of Americamarker:
  • 2007: Outstanding Directorial Achievement - Motion Pictures (There Will Be Blood, nominated)

Writers Guild of America:
  • 1997: Best Screenplay - Original (Boogie Nights, nominated)
  • 1999: Best Screenplay - Original (Magnolia, nominated)
  • 2007: Best Screenplay - Adapted (There Will Be Blood, nominated)


  1. paul thomas anderson ::, Cigarettes and red vines. accessed April 24, 2006.
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson Biography (1970-)
  3. Paul Thomas Anderson - Biography
  7. :: :: Reviews :: Punch-Drunk Love (xhtml)
  8. Lake Wobegon Goes Hollywood (or Is It Vice Versa?), With a Pretty Good Cast - New York Times
  9. Boogie Nights starring Mark Wahlberg directed by PT Anderson

External links

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