"Inherent Vice," Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, was set to give Robert Downey Jr. his first non-franchise role since "Due Date" in 2010. Now, however, it appears Downey has dropped out of the project; Joaquin Phoenix, who starred in "The Master" for Anderson and earned an Oscar nomination for his troubles, is reportedly in talks for the leading role.
Downey has been attached to "Inherent Vice" for some time, though not in any official capacity. In a 2011 interview with MTV, the "Iron Man" star sounded excited about working with Anderson.
"Anything that has to do with Paul Thomas Anderson and I doing a movie is probably true," Downey said. "We tend to talk about a variety of potential projects, and Thomas Pynchon's 'Inherent Vice' could be great. We'll see."
As recently as Jan. 8, Downey was reportedly still attached to the film. No word yet on why he dropped out, but it could be because of scheduling.
"I feel like I'm booked, but I'm not," Downey told MTV in 2011. "I make space for what I want to do. I just think he's one of our great American directors. I just like hanging out with the guy."
Marvel has kept Downey busy in recent years. He'll reprise the role of Tony Stark in "Iron Man 3" and "Marvel's The Avengers 2."
As for Phoenix, playing the lead in "Inherent Vice" would reunite him with Anderson. The actor received some of the best reviews of his career for "The Master," and was nominated for Best Actor despite speaking out against the Academy Awards.
"Inherent Vice" is a noir comedy-thriller set in Los Angeles during 1969 and 1970. The lead role, Doc Sportello, is a detective embroiled in the middle of a kidnapping case.
For more on "Inherent Vice," head over to THR.