|GRANTLAND.com: Hollywood Prospectus|
The second story is that of Lancaster Dodd, who is eerily referred to in a screenplay Mr. Anderson initially wrote for Universal Pictures only as “The Master” or “Master of Ceremonies.” Played by Mr. Hoffman, he is the red-haired, round-faced, charismatic founder of that most Californian of phenomena, a psychologically sophisticated, and manipulative, cult.
Dodd was inspired by — though not entirely modeled on — Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard. ...
In a version of the script that circulated as Mr. Anderson sought financing, Lancaster Dodd is described as being in his mid-40s; Hubbard was in his early 40s during the matching years. Both share a love of boats, and a near-paranoid suspicion of the American Medical Association. Hubbard’s followers hope to become “clear”; the Master’s followers work toward “optimum.” Psychological exploration by and with either involves ruthless interrogation. Both wrote their ultimate secrets in a book that is said to kill its readers or drive them mad. They are obsessed with motorcycles. Their tantrums are monumental. Each has a wife named Mary Sue.