Paul Thomas Anderson: "I would put Alana Haim in the category with Daniel Day-Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix"

Licorice Pizza
(Image credit: Universal)

“I would put Alana in the category with Daniel [Day Lewis] and Joaquin [Phoenix] – she has that kind of unpredictability in the performance, and it’s edgy,” says Paul Thomas Anderson while sitting down with Total Film for the latest issue of the magazine, featuring Black Adam on the cover

We're chatting with the director about his latest movie Licorice Pizza, which follows a blossoming (chaste) relationship between 15-year-old child actor-turned-hustling businessman Gary Valentine, played by Cooper Hoffman (son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), and 25-year-old photographer’s assistant Alana Kane, portrayed by Alana Haim, best known for being a member of the all-sisters band Haim.

"The irony is, the male character is much softer," Anderson continues. "He’s very gentle, and he’s very, very warm. Cooper doesn’t share much with Joaquin. He has an incredible amount of talent, but you feel safe with Cooper, which is a great trait. It’s more of a Gary Cooper/Jimmy Stewart feeling, that he’s a good person. She is a bag of cats, and that’s very appealing to me. I like those kinds of characters."

Despite the filmmaker's confidence in Haim, the actor was a little nervous about appearing in Licorice Pizza, her first major movie. "I peed my pants, but he never doubted me for a second,” says a wide-eyed Haim. Her grin, to use her own word, is snaggle-toothed, and it’s a charm onscreen – Anderson always zooms in on people’s beautiful 'flaws'. 

"I think the thing that surprised me the most was that Paul trusted me enough to ask me, 'What would you do?' A really good example of that is when I ask Lance [an actor colleague of Gary’s who Alana Kane dates, played by Skylar Gisondo], after the Shabbat scene, 'What does your penis look like?' That was all from my brain."

For much more from Anderson and Haim, make sure to check out the brand new issue of Total Film magazine when it hits stands from Thursday, December 9. Check out the newsstand cover below and pre-order a copy here.

Total Film's Black Adam cover

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Total Film)

If you’re a fan, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? You’ll save money on the cover price, have the issue delivered to your door before it’s on newsstands, *and* you’ll get subscriber-exclusive covers like the Black Adam one below. What are you waiting for?

The Total Film Black Adam cover

(Image credit: Future/Warner Bros)
Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.