Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

After finishing Punch-Drunk Love in 2002, Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson found himself fumbling for a follow-up. ”I was really sick of the way I was writing,” he says. ”Everything looked as though I had written it, and that was a horrible feeling.” Purely as an exercise, Anderson decided to adapt a scene from a novel he had just discovered: Oil!, Upton Sinclair’s 1927 take on the grueling, greedy business of prospecting for black gold in California. ”It was a buoy, just to keep writing,” says the director. ”I didn’t think I would end up adapting the [whole] book, but it turned out that way.”

And so out trickled Blood, which hews close to the first 100 pages of Sinclair’s book before going its own way as it tracks the relationship between a silver miner-turned-oilman (Daniel Day-Lewis, who was interested after reading only half the script) and his son (Dillion Freasier). Shooting took place last summer in the remote desert terrain of Marfa, Tex., because, as producer Joanne Sellar explains, ”you can’t find old California in California anymore.” An 80-foot oil derrick was built and filled with fake oil that, according to Anderson, includes ”the stuff they put in chocolate milkshakes at McDonald’s.” The director thinks Blood has helped revitalize his creative process. ”I’m writing something new now — and I actually like it,” he says. Then, with a chuckle: ”I know that will end.”

There Will Be Blood
  • Movie
  • 158 minutes