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Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
Licorice Pizza

Paul Thomas Anderson on casting Alana Haim in his new film, Licorice Pizza

The director also dreams of reuniting with Joaquin Phoenix and bringing Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement

Paul Thomas Anderson likes working with familiar faces, and Alana Haim — star of the director’s upcoming Licorice Pizza — fits the bill. Though the film will be the musician’s feature-length acting debut, PTA has previously directed her and her sisters in the band HAIM, helming several music videos and a short film titled Valentine.

The director discusses the choice to cast the first-time actress across from Cooper Hoffman — son of the late actor (and Anderson fave) Philip Seymour Hoffman — in a new interview with Variety, which also sees him reflect on the other actors he’s dying to work with again.

“This was a story that was very specific to the San Fernando Valley,” Anderson says of Licorice Pizza, which revolves around 20-something Alana Kane (Haim) and her relationship with teenage actor and entrepreneur Gary Valentine (Hoffman). “That was important in terms of casting.”

As suggested by the character’s name, Alana Haim’s part was written for her. “Alana looks like a girl from the Valley; she talks like a girl from the Valley; she is a girl from the Valley,” Anderson explains. “She has a ferociousness. She’s very eager and she’s a quick learner. I don’t know how many more boxes you can tick.” 

Cooper Hoffman, on the other hand, was a more unexpected choice, despite the fact he’s starred in the PTA family’s home movies for years. “I wrote it for a blurry 15- or 16-year-old boy,” Anderson says of Hoffman’s role. “I never imagined when I was writing it that it would be Cooper. I thought that I would take the more traditional route and pursue a young actor. There were a few I met that were talented, but most of them already seemed at a young age to be overly trained, overly mannered and overly ambitious, which was not interesting to me.”

Now that they have their feet in the door, though, there’s a good chance that both Hoffman and Haim will be back to star in a future Anderson film. The filmmaker adds: “Once I’ve worked with somebody, I really want to work with them again and again. I really want to work with every single person that’s in this film.”

Looking back on other collaborators that he’d like to bring back, he picks out Joaquin Phoenix (who starred in 2014’s Inherent Vice) and Daniel Day-Lewis (of There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread). “I’m very anxious to work with Joaquin again,” he says. 

Speaking on Day-Lewis’ retirement, he adds: “We can all get together and hope he’ll come back. Wouldn’t it be great? … Yes, I’m greedy like everybody else. I want more Daniel Day-Lewis performances. But I also think he’s given us more than enough, and we should stop being so greedy. He’s the king.”

Alongside Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza stars Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Benny Safdie, and more. The film will premiere as a limited release in the US on November 26, and is slated to reach the UK in January 2022. Revisit the trailer below.