Paul Thomas Anderson 37

July 23, 2007
Marco Fernandez

Paul Thomas Anderson, a two-time Oscar nominated filmmaker, died Thursday night at the age of thirty-seven due to a cocaine overdose. His body was found the next morning in the living room of his New York apartment by his girlfriend, Maya Rudolph. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

While only being thirty-seven years of age, Paul Thomas Anderson had a prolific career that included five films. The most recent of these, There Will Be Blood, is yet to be released, although those who have seen it have declared it to be Anderson’s ultimate masterpiece.

This news would have surprised Anderson in 1999 when he said the following: "I have a feeling, one of those gut feelings, that I'll make pretty good movies the rest of my life. And maybe I'll make some clunkers, maybe I'll make some winners, but I guess the way that I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make."

In his early twenties, Anderson transferred from Emerson College and began attending NYU film school, although he only stayed there for two days. He left to direct a short film called Cigarettes and Coffee.

After having made his first film, Hard Eight, at the age of 26, Anderson was one of the most promising directors in the country and he did not disappoint those who believed in his talent. A year later, Anderson wrote and directed what would eventually become a cult classic: Boogie Nights. In 1999, his film Magnolia surpassed the success of Boogie Nights.

Anderson’s latest film, There Will Be Blood, comes as the first work by him since his misunderstood 2002 feature, Punch-Drunk Love. Now, his work will be released posthumously. Many await this upcoming film to be the confirmation of Anderson’s genius. The moment of truth has arrived for those who speculated about this director’s ability.

Yet, what distinguished this American filmmaker from the majority was his passion for cinema.

“I didn’t join the game to make a profit, I joined it because I can’t live without it,” Anderson would say.

Such passion was also made evident when he spoke in interviews, as he would rave about details regarding filmmaking that most would neglect or consider irrelevant.

"Today's movie villains often remind us of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart and that's as cool as it gets. There's something comforting if they're hip and cool. They're not entirely real, or not entirely threatening, so it might be a little easier to swallow if they remind us of traditional movie villains," said Anderson. Statements such as this one were not uncommon, as he would spend hours making similar ones.

His interest for film and television began with the admiration he felt for his father, who was involved in this business when he hosted a late night horror show during the 1960’s. Anderson was always being introduced to oddball celebrities such as actor Robert Ridgely, who would later play the part of “The Colonel” in Boogie Nights.

Anderson was a family-oriented man, but no children will be left fatherless because of Anderson’s premature death. He never procreated with any of the women he was linked to in the past. Said list of women included celebrities such as Saturday Night Live comedian Maya Rudolph and singer-songwriter Fiona Apple.

Anderson’s life will be honored during mass on Saturday. It will be celebrated in his hometown of Studio City, California at St. Michael Church.

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