Charlize Theron may indulge in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’

Bryan Enk

After being crushed by a collapsing spaceship in "Prometheus" and being dethroned as the fairest of them all in "Snow White and the Huntsman," Charlize Theron is now eyeing a working noir-themed vacation in sunny Los Angeles.

The Oscar-winning actress is reportedly circling a role in "Inherent Vice," the screen adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's crime novel that's shaping up to be the next project for "The Master" auteur Paul Thomas Anderson. Theron would be joining Robert Downey Jr., who's been at least vaguely attached to the project since last fall.

"Inherent Vice" follows the exploits of Larry 'Doc' Sportello (Downey Jr.), a down-and-out Los Angeles private dick and "pothead" who receives a surprise visit from his ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth, who's now the mistress of real estate mogul Mickey Wolfmann. Shasta asks Doc's help in foiling a plot conjured by Wolfmann's wife, Sloane, and her lover, Riggs Warbling, to have Mickey thrown in the loony bin. Complications ensue (to say the least) against the backdrop of the arrest and trial of the Manson Family from the winter of 1969 through the summer of 1970.

No word yet on what role Theron would be playing, though her scathing (and quite brilliant) performance in "Young Adult" could be seen as an extended audition for the role of the scheming Sloane. Then again, we could also see the sexpot of "2 Days in the Valley" (Theron's 1996 feature film debut -- remember?) playing a character named "Shasta Fay."

"Inherent Vice" will mark the first time that the work of reclusive author Pynchon has been adapted for Hollywood, though his dense and complex storytelling style has certainly influenced more than a few films. The author, whose new novel "The Bleeding Edge" is set to be published this year, reportedly is very pleased with Anderson's screenplay adaptation.

This is all well and good ... if Anderson actually makes the movie. The filmmaker's last few projects have been five years apart from each other ("Punch Drunk Love" in 2002, "There Will Be Blood" in 2007 and "The Master" in 2012), and there have been a few false starts on other projects in-between. We'll have to see if Theron's name being thrown around means that "Inherent Vice" is all that much closer to being a real thing.

Meanwhile, Charlize Theron recently wrapped her role as Imperator Furiosa (how's that for a character name?) in "Mad Max: Fury Road," which will hit theaters sometime next year.