Paul Thomas Anderson Biography

Screenwriter, Director, Producer (1970–)
American film director, producer and screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson is best known for writing and directing box office hits such as 'Boogie Nights.'

Who Is Paul Thomas Anderson?

American film director, producer and screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson is best known for writing and directing intriguing art-house films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice. Anderson is self-taught but has nonetheless been hailed as one of the top filmmakers of his time, having been nominated for several Academy Awards. He has also directed several music videos for musician Fiona Apple.

Early Life and Career

Director and screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson was born on June 26, 1970, in Studio City, California. The son of a successful voiceover artist, Anderson attended the elite Buckley School before being kicked out for poor grades. He later dropped out of both Emerson College and New York University. He returned home to direct the well-received short film, Coffee and Cigarettes, which he later expanded to the feature film Hard Eight to mixed reviews.

Film Career

Anderson's next film, which he both wrote and directed, was the box-office hit Boogie Nights, a coming-of-age story starring Mark Wahlberg that takes place inside the taboo world of pornography. Buoyed by his success, and a virtual carte blanche from New Line Cinema, Anderson next wrote and directed 1999's Magnolia, an ensemble film that followed several unconnected lives that intercepted one another in unanticipated ways. Based on the songs of Aimee Man, Magnolia captured three Oscar nominations, including Best Original Screenplay.

In 2002, Anderson successfully transformed Saturday Night Live comedian Adam Sandler into an empathetic romantic lead in Punch Drunk Love. He won an award for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival for his work on the film. Anderson's most ambitious work to date, 2007's There Will Be Blood, was loosely based on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! The dark, deceptive period drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis earned eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. 

Anderson continued to present layered work with the 2012 release of The Master, a drama with Scientology themes starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. (The three actors all earned Oscar nominations.) The director went in another direction with his 2014 adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice, a trippy comedic affair in which the director again worked with Phoenix among a large cast that included Owen Wilson, Jena Malone, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon and Martin Short. With Vice, Anderson earned another Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay.

Anderson reteamed with Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread (2017). Initially drawing attention for what was reported to be the English actor's final role, the drama earned strong reviews for its portrayal of the 1950s London fashion scene, with Day-Lewis's designer seeking to reconcile his world with his affection for a waitress. The film garnered Anderson an Academy Award nomination for Best Director.

Personal Life

Paul Thomas Anderson has been in a relationship with actress and comedian Maya Rudolph since 2001. They have four children together — Pearl, Lucille, Jack and Minnie.

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