Biography of Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson was born June 26, 1970, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. He would go on to set many of his films in the valley. He is one of nine children, and his father, Ernie, was an actor who read announcements for ABC and was the host of the Cleveland edition of Shock Theater. Anderson made short films from a young age, most notably The Dirk Diggler Story, which would eventually serve as the basis for Anderson’s breakout hit Boogie Nights (1997).

Anderson briefly attended several colleges but dropped out of all of them after a short period. After leaving NYU’s film program after only two days, Anderson made a short film called Cigarettes and Coffee with the money he had intended to spend on his tuition. The film garnered significant attention at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, eventually paving the way for him to make his feature debut, Hard Eight (1996). The next year, he released Boogie Nights, launching his career in earnest and earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay (he would go on to be nominated for the award again two years later for Magnolia and for Adapted Screenplay for both There Will Be Blood (2007) and Inherent Vice (2014)).

He followed Boogie Nights with Magnolia (1999), Adam Sandler collaboration Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Master (2012), Inherent Vice, and most recently Phantom Thread (2017). Each film has received significant critical acclaim, and Anderson has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director (for There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread). Anderson has not publicly discussed his next project, but it is rumored to be a historical work on the Little Harlem community of 1940s Los Angeles, made in collaboration with comedian Tiffany Haddish. Anderson is in a long-term relationship with comedian Maya Rudolph. They have four children.


Study Guides on Works by Paul Thomas Anderson

Boogie Nights was released in 1997. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, it went on to be nominated for three Oscars: Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. The film chronicles the story of Eddie...

Magnolia was released in 1999. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Produced by Anderson along with JoAnne Sellar. The film would earn Tom Cruise a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards, and a win for Best Supporting...

Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed The Master which was released in 2012 starring Joaquin Phoenis, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. It was made for an estimated budget of $32 million, and garnered three Academy Award nominations for Best...

Released on Christmas Day of 2017, Phantom Thread is a drama film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Encompassing the ideas of influence and greed, the movie seems to bring to life ever-relevant themes. Set in 1954, the film has received over a...

There Will be Blood is often referred to as a film adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!, but it's far from a direct adaptation. The names of the characters in the film do not correspond to those in the book, and the events in the novel that...