Boogie Nights 20th Anniversary

Started by modage, October 10, 2012, 09:16:02 AM

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25 years.  My baby boy is growing up so fast.   :wink:

Most of us won't learn anything new here, although there are new quotes from Michael Stein (original Dirk) that I found quite interesting. 

Diggler, duels and that very big dong: Boogie Nights at 25

Few people wanted to star in Paul Thomas Anderson's sexy, funny, tragic porn opus. Fewer still wanted to finance it. But 25 years after its release, it remains one of the greatest films ever made. Tom Fordy speaks to Anderson's 'original' Dirk Diggler about the making of a modern classic

When Michael Stein, an actor, stand-up and friend of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, visited the set of Anderson's pornography opus Boogie Nights in 1997, he noticed a cast member was missing. "I said," recalls Stein, "'Hey where's Burt?'" Burt Reynolds was playing Jack Horner, a classy porno director and mentor to Mark Wahlberg's up-and-coming porn stud, Dirk Diggler. The former Hollywood alpha would ultimately be Oscar-nominated for the role, but on the set, he was peeved. Anderson, chain-smoking American Spirit cigarettes with irritation, turned to Stein: "He's in the trailer, man... He doesn't want to hang out with us.'"

Refusing to come out of his trailer was one thing; elsewhere on the shoot, it almost came to blows – Reynolds took a swing at the 26-year-old Anderson. "I wasn't there for that," says Stein. "I heard about it though!"

Like the Goodfellas of porn, Boogie Nights is about the rise and fall of the massively endowed Dirk Diggler, a naive – daft, even – youngster in porn's golden age. In Diggler's own words – and before the cocaine takes hold – he's a big bright shining star. The film is also the story of how Paul Thomas Anderson – a strong-willed, creatively assured upstart – emerged as a filmmaker-of-the-moment, on a spectrum that includes Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher and Kevin Smith. All infused Nineties cinema with a cutting edge, indie-minded cool.

Twenty-five years after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival (on 11 September 1997), Boogie Nights remains sumptuous filmmaking, with stunningly crafted characters. Industry players didn't understand it, though. Not least of all Reynolds, who reportedly fired his agent after clashing with Anderson on the set. Wahlberg, who became a major Hollywood star in its wake, has also had an erratic relationship with the film – the devout Catholic has since said that he hopes God forgives him for starring in it, though he's also boasted about still keeping in his possession Dirk's giant prosthetic penis.

Anderson's film was born from his real-life fascination with porn, beginning life as a short mockumentary – The Dirk Diggler Story – that he directed in 1988 when he was just 17. Stein, who has a small cameo in Boogie Nights, played the original Dirk. Anderson's interest in the porn world – an X-rated origin story, if you like – is almost apocryphal. There are various accounts: that he discovered his father's porn stash aged nine and watched The Opening of Misty Beethoven; that he was obsessed with warehouse-like buildings that had no signage, suggesting something secret and sexy inside; or that he spied a suspected porn shoot across the street from his grandmother's. In that story, the house had blacked out windows and light stands on the lawn, leading Anderson to watch many, many pornos afterwards trying to find it on-screen. As Anderson grew up in the real Seventies and Eighties porn hub of the San Fernando Valley, all of those stories are probably true. "The Valley was the epicentre," says Stein. "The Hollywood of the porn industry."

Stein first met Anderson when they were dating the daughters of studio executive Peter Guber. Anderson called Stein with a proposition: "I've got an idea for a short film. It's about a porno star. I haven't written it yet, but would you play him?'" Stein had studied acting, but so far nothing had, erm, come up. Soon enough, he was playing Dirk Diggler – filming in a motel on Ventura Boulevard "wearing leopard skin underwear".

For The Dirk Diggler Story, Anderson credited a number of influences, most obviously the 1981 documentary Exhausted, about legendarily equipped adult icon John Holmes. "The Babe Ruth of that industry," jokes Stein. Exhausted, directed by porn star Julia St Vincent, is a pompous, laughable profile of a star in decline. Anderson once called it "just the funniest, saddest thing", and gave everyone a copy on the set of Boogie Nights. It pointed to the fact that Anderson's porn fascination wasn't just about sex, but the campy, ramshackle aesthetic and storytelling of the genre.

Like the best mockumentaries, The Dirk Diggler Story is an exercise in blinkered delusion. Characters possess an inflated sense of self, tragically unaware at how they present on camera. It's full of sly, knowing humour and farcical moments. See Jack Horner, then played by Robert Ridgely, praying to not be struck down by the curse of premature ejaculation. The original Dirk meets a tragic fate – he dies of an overdose. Cue a hilarious, weepy montage of his life and career.

At one time, Anderson envisioned Boogie Nights as a feature-length mockumentary, before realising he was "blatantly ripping off Spinal Tap", he'd go on to say. His script, then a weighty tome of 180 pages, had already been rejected. A script reader at Fox rated both its concept and storyline as "poor". Anderson was already on the defensive with studio brass. His debut feature, the gambling thriller Sydney – starring Philip Baker Hall and Gwyneth Paltrow – had been taken off of him in post-production and renamed Hard Eight (though he effectively stole it back). It was Michael De Luca, president of production at New Line Cinema, who championed Boogie Nights. Less convinced was New Line founder Bob Shaye, who was wary of Anderson's phonebook-sized screenplay. Anderson saw the film as a three-hour, adults-only epic rated NC-17 – a kiss-of-death for any movie, meaning no one under the age of 17 was allowed to see it. De Luca had to cut his ambitions down to size. Anderson agreed to make Boogie Nights under three hours, with a more box office-friendly R rating.

For Anderson, Boogie Nights was about "the surrogate family", he told interviewer Charlie Rose upon its release. Dirk begins life as a busboy named Eddie Adams, who's kicked out of home by his miserable, browbeating mother (Joanna Gleason). But his special talents – a 13-inch penis and being really, really good at sex – are discovered by Jack Horner, who welcomes him into a family of porno misfits. Dirk becomes an award-winning sensation and creates his own on-screen porn character – Brock Landers, based on John Holmes's screen alter-ego Johnny Wadd – before descending into a cocaine-fuelled nightmare.

Boogie Nights, ultimately, is about love, acceptance, and finding your place in the world. Dirk's foxy co-star Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) is a mother in need of children – having lost custody of her real child – while young porn stars Dirk and Rollergirl (Heather Graham) are children in need of a mother. Set assistant Scotty (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a childlike oaf who craves Dirk's affection. Fellow porn actor Reed Rothchild (the ever-brilliant John C Reilly) competes with Dirk in hilarious macho posturing ("What do you bench?"), but the friendship is based on a near-homoerotic admiration. Even Don Cheadle's Buck Swope is just trying to fit in by finding a style that suits him – from cowboy to Egyptian chic. "Wear what you dig," advises Luis Guzmán's nightclub manager, who believes his true calling is to star in porn films as the "ultimate Latin lover".

Cinematographer Robert Elswit, who won an Oscar in 2008 for Anderson's There Will Be Blood, wanted to make Boogie Nights for its deeper themes. "You're so full of s***," said his wife. "You just want to see the naked girls."

The first half of the movie is all fun and games. But the back-half of the movie is a sort of punishment for those fun and games

Anderson initially wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for Dirk. The fresh-faced DiCaprio was interested but opted instead to make Titanic, later confessing that passing the part up was his biggest professional regret. He was courteous about it in 1997, though, recommending Anderson meet with Wahlberg, his co-star in The Basketball Diaries two years earlier. It was a risky proposal. Wahlberg was still best known for his ludicrous rap persona Marky Mark, and his Calvin Klein underwear ads. He only read the first 30 pages of Boogie Nights before meeting Anderson, whom he told: "I know I'm going to love the rest of it, but I just want to make sure before I really fall in love with this and want to do it, that you don't want me because I'm the guy who will get in his underwear".

Stein recalls some concerns. He had "heard some things" about Wahlberg. "I was worried that Mark was going to be hip-hop Mark," he says. "I met him and he was so nice – a great guy." The brilliance of Wahlberg's Diggler, says Stein, is the vulnerability. Indeed, Dirk may best be remembered and certainly most quoted for his impotent, cocaine meltdown – "You're not the king of me, I'm the f****** king of Dirk!" – but the crux of Dirk is that he's essentially a boy. See him crying as his mother kicks him out ("Please, don't be mean to me!"), his constant wonderment at the world around him – oblivious to its sleaze – or showing off his bachelor pad, adorned with the naff spoils of newfound fortune. "It has that karate feel," he says about the bedroom decor.

Actors up for the role of Jack Horner included Albert Brooks, Sydney Pollack and Bill Murray. Anderson also spoke to Warren Beatty. "Eventually what I started to figure out is that Warren really wanted to play Dirk Diggler," Anderson said. The part of Rollergirl almost went to Drew Barrymore, who attended a screening of Hard Eight with Burt Reynolds that was amusingly ruined by Ron Jeremy, then a top porn star, who fell asleep and snored all the way through it. Jeremy ended up acting as a consultant on the set of the film, introducing Anderson to the inner workings of the porn biz.

Other real-life porn stars appeared in the film, including Veronica Hart and Nina Hartley, who played the adulterous porn star wife of Horner's assistant director, Little Bill (William H Macy). In the film's best running gag, Little Bill finds his wife in various trysts with other men. "You're embarrassing me," she tells Bill – while she has sex in front of a group of onlookers. It's a joke that eventually sours. Little Bill's demise on New Year 1980 is quietly, unexpectedly devastating: a continuous Steadicam take of Little Bill discovering his wife with yet another man, walking to his car to retrieve his gun, and killing his wife, her lover and then himself. It's the point at which Boogie Nights takes a dark, perilous turn. "The first half of the movie is all fun and games," Anderson said in 1997. "But the back-half of the movie is a sort of punishment for those fun and games."

Like the real John Holmes, Dirk develops a dangerous cocaine habit, one that leaves him unable to perform. It results in a poolside shoving match between Dirk and Jack. The scene was filmed a day after a real bust-up between Reynolds and Anderson. Accounts vary on what caused the fracas: either Reynolds hated the film or felt disrespected by his director.

"I don't want to put myself in the mind of Burt Reynolds but Paul is so strong-minded and Burt is a strong-minded guy," Stein says. "I know that because I know other friends of his. I could see that happening." Stein jokes that Reynolds could have been method acting. "Who knows, maybe Burt was doing some Daniel Day [Lewis]?! He needed to take a swing at Dirk in the pool scene."

The latter half of Boogie Nights is an excruciating descent into desperation and stupidity: gay prostitution, a drug robbery gone wrong and a failed attempt at pop stardom. In a scene carried over from Exhausted, Dirk sings – if you can call it singing – "The Touch", originally from the animated Transformers movie. "I saw the soundtrack in this 99-cents bin and I thought, 'I've got to have this. This is too good,'" recalled Anderson.

The film's climactic robbery is pulse-thumping, nerve-jangling lunacy, with a shotgun-wielding Alfred Molina – wearing Speedos, freebasing cocaine, and singing "Jessie's Girl" – and a mute Chinese boy throwing firecrackers. Molina's ears were plugged to dampen the sound, while Anderson shot the very real nerves of Wahlberg, Reilly, and actor Thomas Jane – first with firecrackers, then, after they'd got used to the firecrackers, a starting pistol.

Unlike John Holmes, who died of Aids complications in 1988, Dirk gets his redemption. Anderson decided to save his money shot for the final seconds: the reveal of Dirk's 13-inch penis. For Anderson, it was like seeing the shark for the first time in Jaws. The prosthetic rubber penis was in fact seven inches – the full-length version looked monstrous on Wahlberg's 5ft 7in frame.

There were months of back-and-forth with the Motion Picture Association of America to get Boogie Nights' R rating, and battles with New Line's Bob Shaye over the length of Anderson's cut. Shaye had ammo: preview screening test scores were woefully low, causing the marketing executives to lose confidence. The filmmakers wondered if the wrong audience was being recruited. Producer JoAnne Sellar overheard viewers being rounded with the question: "Do you want to see Mark Wahlberg's penis?" Bob Shaye even did his own edit – it scored marginally worse, helped by Anderson telling people at that preview screening, "This movie sucks. You're gonna hate it."

Officially released on 10 October 1997, Boogie Nights made $26m – a modest hit, though it was nominated for two Academy Awards. Critics were stunned. The Independent's Chris Darke called it "a bravura piece of American filmmaking, up there with Goodfellas in scope and scale". In The New York Times, Janet Maslin described Anderson as having a "display of talent as big and exuberant as skywriting". Reynolds, reportedly distancing himself from publicity, missed out. "He would've won the Oscar had he not dug such a hole for himself," Wahlberg later told Yahoo. Reynolds was diplomatic about the film in his autobiography but admitted that he'd "never sat down and watched the whole thing". Reynolds also missed what Boogie Nights was to Nineties cinema: a big, bright shining star.


I've been waiting for this one for a very long time.   Simmons REALLY got my attention when he said they were seriously considering buying the Jack Horner house out in Covina to use as their offices.

They've been teasing this for years.  Almost 4 1/2 hours over two episodes...

Our long national nightmare is over.


That is one special thing to wake up to.



William H. Macy Answers Every Question We Have About Boogie Nights

On his visit to a porn set, Burt Reynolds's "clueless" attitude, and making Paul Thomas Anderson laugh — and smell — during that killer shot.

William H. Macy assumed he was the victim of a racy prank. After a decade-plus of TV guest spots and supporting film roles, his career-changing moment had arrived in the form of sad-sack Jerry Lundegaard, the struggling car salesman who proved to be an even more inept criminal in Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo. Macy had fought for the role, and it paid off with an Oscar nomination. With his stock on the rise, the search for the next meaty gig was underway, and he couldn't believe the script and character that his representation was suggesting.

"I thought I was being punked by my agents," Macy, a now 14-time Emmy nominee, recalls of reading Paul Thomas Anderson's modern classic, Boogie Nights. Set in the late '70s and early '80s, the second feature from the then-27-year-old filmmaker explored the "golden age" of porn through the eyes of rising star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg). The naïve youngster experiences the highs of his new fame and lifestyle followed by a string of drug-fueled lows. Macy plays hangdog assistant director Little Bill, a man who is nothing if not dedicated to his craft — unfortunately, his wife doesn't feel the same way about their marriage.

Played by real-life pornstar Nina Hartley, Little Bill's wife (as she's officially credited) constantly, and blatantly, cheats on him. "Shut up, Bill, you're embarrassing me," she barks at him for daring to interrupt her while she's having sex with another man on a towel in a driveway as a group of onlookers surrounds them. The unlucky-in-love pushover finally reaches his breaking point in Boogie Nights' most shocking sequence. Just over halfway into the film, Anderson employs a long tracking shot to follow Little Bill and his arrival at a 1979 New Year's Eve party just before the clock strikes midnight. He's searching the house for his wife only to find her engaging in her extramarital hobby again in a backroom. The camera then stays with him as he quietly retreats outside to his car, grabs his gun, returns inside, and shoots his wife and her latest lover. Stunned, the partygoers immediately stop the in-progress countdown, with Little Bill giving them a big smile before he kills himself.

Unlike Fargo, Boogie Nights didn't earn Macy an Oscar nom (those went to Anderson and co-stars Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore), but it helped solidify his status as one of the best character actors working, as evidenced by his diverse 45-year résumé.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you reflect back on Boogie Nights?
The company. There was such a gathering of massive talent, starting with Paul Anderson. He was so young and such an impressive fellow. And then as I got to know that cast, everybody was just stunning.

What's your memory of the film coming into your life?
I thought I was being punked by my agents at first. They sent me the script and I read it, and it was a lot raunchier and more explicit than the final film. It was absolutely an X-rated script. So I called my agent and said, "Are you having me on?" [Laughs.] And they said, "Nope, New Line says they are down to make this film, but it's got to be an R-rating," and that came with certain rules, which were idiotic.

I mean, just to get off on a tangent: I've got two daughters, and there's stuff when they were growing up that I did not want them to see, but the MPAA board would allow these ultraviolent graphic things to be seen by kids, and then they would make a big deal out of a woman's breasts. And I thought, Oh, you poor babies, get into therapy, you've got problems. Boogie Nights was the perfect example of it. We had to reshoot a scene with Nina Hartley because they said she can screw, or she can talk, but she can't do them both at once. So we had to reshoot a close-up of Nina so that you didn't see what she was doing, and you could cut back and forth. Jiminy Christmas.

Boogie Nights was released a year after Fargo, for which you were Oscar-nominated. Were you already noticing a difference in how you were being viewed in the industry?
It's an excellent career move to get an Academy Award nomination. I don't know why I didn't do it earlier! But it takes a surprisingly long time for the wheels of Hollywood to turn, so I was just starting to feel the residual effects of that big hit. And when Paul called, I met with him at the Formosa Café, and, as I was used to doing, I read the script one more time and prepared my pitch to get this role: what I thought Little Bill's through-line was, his objectives, and what the film was about. And I met Paul and he started talking and I couldn't get a word in edgewise, and, at a point, I had this realization, "Oh my God, I came here to sell him on me but he's here to sell him to me." It was the first time I'd ever experienced that, and, I'll be honest with you, it was a lovely feeling.

Don Cheadle has said he was struck by how "super-confident" Paul was in their first meeting. He told Don that he'd regret not being a part of Boogie Nights. What was your early read of him in that initial interaction?
He's a bundle of energy, smart as a whip, well spoken. When he talks to you, he's got a point, and when he makes the point, he doesn't keep going. Secondly, it's not long before you realize he's got an indefatigable knowledge of film. He's seen everything and he can reference it. And Don's right, just supreme confidence. I guess he'd been through the wringer with Hard Eight; he had to battle the producers to be able to cut his own film. They wanted to send out a lesser version and that was tough on him. So, a bit of aggressiveness on his part. He was realizing that people, for the best of intentions, will try to improve your script until it's a reeking pile of shit. It happens all the time, I've seen it.

What's the reaction from those in your life when you tell them that you're doing a porn drama? Any trepidation from them or even from yourself?
I was working all the time back in those days, and so I didn't talk about films that I was going to do, except with close friends. I was titillated by it. I couldn't wait to see how it was going to work. I'm not one who does a lot of research, but I went to a porn shoot — Paul set it up for us. What an amazing world. I mean, when I got there, I realized they're making a movie. They may be shooting people having sex, but they're just making a movie. And the director had the same look on her face that every other director does, which is, I've got three more pages and the sun's going down in two hours, I don't know how I'm going to get this. It was bizarre. It was three women in a hot tub — and they were stunningly beautiful. And just like regular porn, it was, at first, highly erotic, and then sort of curious, and then, ultimately, kind of boring. And there's no fast-forward in real life!

You mentioned Nina, who plays Little Bill's wife. Here you are, a recent Oscar-nominated actor, and you're being paired up with a porn star making her Hollywood acting debut. I mean, it probably didn't hurt to have a partner experienced in this field. What was that working relationship like?
I didn't know Nina, so I met her on the set for the first time. It's not that I haven't seen porn before, I just didn't know her. And she is very personable, very smart, really a remarkable woman, and has a great take on women's roles in pornography; she finds it empowering and made a compelling case for it. And funny as all get out. One time, we had a grand mixture of people in the industry and just regular actors, and it's not like you wore a badge or anything, so it was hard to tell who was who. And there was a woman on the set and she said, "Nina, hi!" Nina was unsure. And she said, "It's Dolly," and Nina went, "Oh my God, Dolly! I'm so sorry, I didn't even recognize you." And she turned to me and said, "And I fucked her!" [Laughs.]

Speaking of her sense of humor, is it true that her wrap-party gift to everyone was one of her films?
Yes! If memory serves, it's called Nina Hartley's Guide to Anal Sex. She became a pal. Later on, I was trying to do a script about strip joints, and so my friend and I met with Nina a couple of times because she had danced in those. That's a real cash cow, or it used to be when strip joints were a little bit classier ... they could make some good money by dancing as a headliner.

Once on the set, what was Paul like as a young filmmaker? This was quite the undertaking, and surely a wild environment, between the subject matter and what appeared to be a nonstop party atmosphere.
He's a great director, but he's a great leader of the set, and he kept it light and friendly and safe. But he always keeps it moving forward. Now he's got big enough budgets that he can hunker down on a scene if it's not working correctly, and when it is working correctly, he would do three or four takes and we'd move on. He was crazed about the Steadicam. He had a lot of shots designed that were quite complex. That opening shot took three-quarters of the day to rehearse, and a lot of the suits were getting more and more nervous because, after lunch, there still was no film in the camera. I think the camera started down the street on a truck and it was a tracking shot, and then the cameraman stepped off of this truck and onto a forklift that lifted him up into the air and then swooped around. There wasn't a cut, and then I think he stepped off of the lift and went through the front door and we met a bunch of our characters. It was an ambitious undertaking. But then midday after lunch, it worked. So we did another take, and another take, and another take, and then four takes, we had five pages in the can, which is a good day's work.

I know quite a bit of time was also put into your famous final scene, which begins with Little Bill arriving at a New Year's Eve party in 1979 and ends with him killing his wife, her latest lover, and himself as the clock strikes midnight. Can you take me through filming that memorable oner?
I'll bet you there were a hundred extras in this house — and it wasn't that big a house — so everybody had to be really cagey about not getting out of my way, making me force my way through the crowd, but melting back seamlessly so it didn't show on camera that they had to open up. I find my wife fucking this guy, and then I go back out through the front door, to my car, I get a gun out of the glove box, and then I locked the car, which made Paul laugh. That was a spontaneous thing; he loved that and left it in. To be candid, the first time we did it, I was stepping over this ottoman and I farted. [Laughs.] I was going to just keep going because it's a rough shot, but I started giggling. Paul said, "What happened," and I said, "You didn't hear that?" The sound guy said, "I heard it!"

The second time, the gun went off too quickly. This is back when they let actors do a little bit more; I don't think they would allow it these days. But the pistol was hot-wired to the gore pack, which is sort of a backpack with a tube that came out the back of my neck. It was under my clothes and he shot me straight on, so you never saw the lump there. It was designed so that when I pulled the trigger, that triggered the gore gun, which would throw the blood and brains on the wall behind me. Perhaps I was sweating or something, and it went off prematurely. It was a 30- or 40-minute cleanup to reload the gun, clean the wall, and get me new clothes.

And then the third take, everything worked well. As an actor, I was thinking, After I've shot my wife and her lover, what's the moment when I look out over the party? Because they've already heard the shots and they were all looking at me, I decided that the moment was an apology for ruining the party. They're in a good mood, and now there's a double homicide and everybody's going to have to go home. It was an apology, which I'm very proud of, because it was an excellent choice. Anyway, that third one, I pulled the trigger and the gore gun went off and I fell out of frame. They were immediately upon me, taking the pack off, getting ready for another take, cleaning the wall. And I was looking at Paul and the producers around the monitor, and I heard the bang and all of them recoiled, going, "Oh God, play it back, play it back." And they played it back again, and when we got to the bang, the same reaction. I thought, Well, we got that shot. And, in fact, Paul said, "It's not going to get better than that, let's move on."

What's the story behind your interestingly worded run-in with Ricky Jay after finding Nina in the driveway, on a towel, with another gentleman?
We did a take and I said to Ricky Jay — rest in peace — "Do you mind? I'm a little preoccupied now, my wife has an ass in her cock." After the take, Paul said, "You said, 'Ass in her cock,'" and I said, "I did? I'm so sorry." Take two, I think I said, "A cock in her ass." Take three, he said, "You said, 'Ass in her cock,' again." I said, "No, I didn't." He said, "You did." I said, "I'm sure I didn't, Paul." At any rate, the one he liked was the word burger where I got it wrong. That tells you what kind of a director Paul is because I don't know what that means, that Little Bill confused those lines, but Paul obviously saw it. And I get it, there was truth in it, it spoke to Little Bill's state of mind at the time. Everybody walks up to me and says, "Listen, in the scene in the driveway." I say, "No, I said it. I don't know why I said it. Paul decided to keep it in."

I read that extras were literally walking off the set during the shooting of the adult-film awards ceremony. Was that a pretty strange night?
Absolutely true. All the extras were told was, "It's a Burt Reynolds movie, it's '70s, come in your finest '70s disco look." And Boogie Nights is a big movie, so it was stressful setting up that room, and Paul just neglected to let everybody know what the story was. I guess it was assumed that people would ask and everybody knew what was going on. And sweet Melora Walters. Paul said, "We're going to give out an award, and you love this guy, Dirk Diggler. So everyone's thrilled, you can whistle, scream, jump to your feet, give him a big ovation." And Melora Walters gets up to the mic, with that great voice of hers, and she says, "And the winner is ... oh, and I can't wait to get that big cock in my mouth: Dirk Diggler!" Silence reigned over the room. [Laughs.] About 40 of them got up, very quietly gathered up their stuff, got in their cars, and drove home. So the call went out to get some more extras. And this time Paul said, "Okay, it's about the porn industry."

What were the actual mechanics of filming those sex scenes for the movies within the movie? Were the reactions from the off-camera people like Burt and yourself, like when you first see Dirk's special package, filmed separately?
They were very brave. When you're doing scenes like that, the rule is if you don't have to be there, don't be there. And so there were some wider shots, masters, where it was a crowded room. God bless both of them. That was before the days of intimacy coordinators, but Paul's a gentleman, Mark's a gentleman, and Julianne is very sophisticated, so they talked it out, what was in, what was out, what they didn't want to have. But mostly they were brave. They read the script, they knew what it was about, and they knew what was required was that they're completely comfortable with being naked in front of people.

Burt Reynolds was the one established legend coming into this, and yet he seemed like the biggest problem on-set, with part of the film's legacy being the battles between him and Paul. How disappointing was it to see that drama play out?
Oh, he wasn't happy. I think Burt was sort of clueless as to what we were doing. I think all of us very early in the film thought, Holy crap, this is extraordinary, and I think Burt was clueless. And he trashed the film after we wrapped — up until the time he got an Academy Award nomination. I'm probably now Burt's age then, and I'm trying to make sure I don't fall into that, not really listening and not being abreast of what's going on and staying humble.

Most of the Boogie Nights cast reunited for Paul's next film, Magnolia, which found you all separated into your own story lines. So how did that experience differ?
It was somewhat autobiographical, as I understand it, and the mood was palpable. It was upsetting that I didn't get to act with those guys in some of these scenes. After Boogie Nights, I didn't want to act with anyone else, but we were all in our own orbits there. I had a dustup with Paul because when I read this script, I thought it was too long, and I think I really pissed him off when I suggested that it's the same scene a couple of times and that it needed to be trimmed up a little. He was so mad. He said, "Everybody says it's got to be short. Goddamn it, this is how long it is!" Other than that, there wasn't a lot of levity in that thing. Boy, it was moody and depressive. But, again, Paul is so self-assured, so knowledgeable of film, and having written this script, he knew exactly what he wanted, and it was a pleasure to do. Because it was emotional, it's not my strong suit. I'm Lutheran, I don't like emotions, so it was a bit trying, but it's a powerful movie. A lot of people say it's their favorite movie.

There was a funny bit where I'm climbing a ladder and one of those frogs hits me in the face and I fall off. They had me tethered to the ladder, so they wanted the frog to hit me in the face and I just dropped out of frame on this tethered line. Paul came up to me and said, "Are you worried about this? We're going to drop it, it's going to smack you in the face, but this is the frog." It was made out of latex and gelatin. It was super realistic, but it weighed a pound; it was heavy. And I said, "Jesus, Paul, how far are you going to drop it? Just don't break my neck." He said, "No, no, look," and he laid down and he held it in his arms and dropped it on his face. And I said, "Yeah, but isn't it going to be from a distance? The camera would see your hand." He said, "No, no, no." Anyway, I kept questioning him until finally I got on the third step of the ladder and dropped one of these fucking frogs onto his face. He went, "You're messing with me," and I started laughing. But I got him to smack himself in the face with those frogs about six times before he got that I was putting him on.

You and Philip Seymour Hoffman kept collaborating after Magnolia and found a really fun dynamic together in David Mamet's 2000 comedy State and Main. To me, he's one of the greatest actors that I've ever seen. What was it like getting to work so closely with him, especially in those years when he was starting to come into his

He was the best of us; he was never bad. And I don't know if it's just looking back, but I now see that he was in pain. I think the weight of living was heavier on Phil than it is on other people. We were on a panel together, I think, at Sundance with State and Main, and somebody asked about preparation. I don't do a lot of preparation, everything I need is in the script. The character is a trick we play on the audience — you don't have to live the character. That's not acting, it's mental illness. And Phil disagreed. He said, "No, I think there's things you can do to get into the world. Whatever's going on, you've got to find it in yourself, and I think you have to submerge yourself into the world of it." We went back and forth, it was an interesting conversation, and then I suddenly realized, What am I saying to him? I said, "Whatever you do is fucking brilliant all the time," and he said, "Thank you, and I think you do it, too, regardless of what you say." But it was a little window into how deeply he felt stuff. I think about him in Boogie Nights when he shows up in those clothes that are too small and he's holding the clipboard close to his chest and he's chewing on the pencil when he tries to flirt with Dirk Diggler — it's heartbreaking. And I never saw him do that character again. From that point on, he played much stronger characters. And I don't think there's anything he couldn't do.

In a fictional world where Little Bill made it into the 1980s, what do you believe his life would have looked like? Would he have stayed in his marriage, stayed in the porn business?
I choose to think at a point he would've said, "Fuck this," dumped his wife, and found love somewhere. What Paul wrote about in Boogie Nights was the transition that the porn industry went through and the advent of DVDs, so we could own the movies, and what a profound effect that had on our business and on the viewing public's habits. We went from film to videotape, which was clearly a step-down. Videotape can't do it, but it was prescient that we went from film to digital. There were holdouts forever saying, "No, I can tell the difference," but there are very few holdouts now. The only reason to shoot on film is nostalgia. Anything that film can do, digital can do better. It was progress, and Paul was writing about that in the microcosm.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.


God, that was wonderful.  (Should have been me doing the interview, tho.)

Nina shared with me that Macy was the only person on set that treated her like a "normal" person--talk to her, etc.  I think she mentioned that he was the only one that would pose with her for pictures at the premiere as well. God bless him.


Boogie Nights: How Hollywood and porn shaped each other
Rachel Pronger

As Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson's nostalgic portrait of the "Golden Age" of adult film, turns 25, Rachel Pronger explores the interrelated history of the pornography and film industries.

There's a scene near the beginning of Boogie Nights (1997), Paul Thomas Anderson's nostalgic portrait of the 1970s LA porn industry, in which director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) sits in a diner across from wannabe star Eddie (Mark Wahlberg) and outlines his vision for a new kind of dirty movie:

It's my idea to make a film that the story just sucks them in... [so] they can't move until they find out how the story ends... It's my dream to make a film that is true and right and dramatic.

Can a pornographic film be true and right and dramatic? While attitudes around depictions of sex on screen have moved on a lot over the years, there is still a stark division for most viewers between "real films" and pornography. Yet, the pornographic and mainstream film industries evolved in tandem and there has always been crossover between the two. Hollywood and hardcore film are closely interrelated twin industries that share many of the same challenges and have inevitably historically influenced and shaped one another.

In Boogie Nights, which turns 25 this year, Anderson seizes upon this interconnected history, presenting an unusually three-dimensional take that has as much to say about Hollywood as it does about porn. The film centres on Eddie, a young busboy with a modest talent but "something wonderful" in his jeans, who is spotted by Jack and invited to join his family, a disparate group of crew and performers including glamorous mother figure Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) and ingenue Roller Girl (Heather Graham). Together they make a series of increasingly epic films and Eddie, refashioned as Dirk Diggler, becomes a breakout star until spiralling egos, addiction and technological shifts threaten to derail the dream.

The success of Deep Throat announced the arrival of what New York Times journalist Ralph Blumenthal dubbed "porno chic," a period in which watching pornographic films at the cinema became for a while not just acceptable but cool
Boogie Nights' sprawling narrative spans the evolution of adult film from the "porno chic" of the late-1970s to the VHS boom of mid-1980s. The film opens in 1977, at the peak of the "Golden Age of Porn", a phase during which hardcore film briefly broke into the mainstream. A pivotal moment was the release of Deep Throat in 1972, the first feature-length porn film to break through into mainstream discourse. Helped along by a censorship scandal, Deep Throat became a box office hit, catching the attention of the mainstream media and making a celebrity of its star Linda Lovelace. The success of Deep Throat announced the arrival of what New York Times journalist Ralph Blumenthal dubbed "porno chic," a period in which watching pornographic films at the cinema became for a while not just acceptable but cool. This new social acceptability meant larger audiences and bigger profits and as a result filmmakers began to develop more artistically ambitious projects further blurring the boundaries between mainstream cinema and porn.

In Boogie Nights, Anderson channels the spirit of porno chic through the character of Jack and his dream of making films that are "true, right and dramatic". Boogie Nights is full of clips of Jack and Dirk's collaborations, affectionately made film-within-a-film parodies that serve to highlight the ways in which porn drew inspiration from Hollywood. The artistic highpoint of these are the "Brock Landers" films, a series of elaborate James Bond parodies in which Dirk plays a secret agent who seduces his way out of every scrape. "It's a real film Jack," declares the cameraman in wonder after one particularly intense take. "This is the film I want them to remember me by," Jack solemnly replies.

In a meta-twist, Boogie Nights itself could be read as a Hollywood parody. Dirk Diggler's rise and fall is a classic "star is born" narrative that borrows all the tropes of that genre – the Svengali figure; the young star corrupted by fame; the bittersweet ending. As you'd expect from as cinephilic a director as Anderson, the film is also littered with references, particularly to Martin Scorsese. A sequence in which Dirk sits before a dressing room mirror and gives himself a pep talk riffs on Raging Bull, while another in which Dirk plans a cocaine-fuelled heist is pure Goodfellas. By drawing explicitly from other films and genre tropes but recasting those beats within the heightened world of porn, Anderson's approach is not so far away from Jack's – both are filmmakers stealing liberally from Hollywood in an attempt to make something new.

'Salacious thrills'

Jack's parodies demonstrate how pornography has often ripped off Hollywood, but this relationship has not historically been one way. As Karina Longworth highlights in her podcast series Erotic Eighties, the mainstreaming of porn in the 1970s also fed directly into Hollywood. A wave of erotic thrillers released across the 1980s and 1990s – films such as American Gigolo (1980), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) and 9½ Weeks (1986) – drew directly on the aesthetics of pornography, offering up naked movie stars as sex symbols. Aside from these erotic thrillers, another way in which porn has clearly influenced Hollywood lies in the small but significant subgenre of films set in the industry. Like Boogie Nights, the best of these films have as much to say about the power dynamics and ethical challenges of working in Hollywood as they do about pornography.

Although not to everyone's taste, Body Double's self-conscious excess serves a purpose, indulging in Hollywood excess while simultaneously critiquing it
Unlike other films of the 1980s erotic thriller boom, Brian De Palma's Body Double (1984) is explicit about the crossover between Hollywood and porn. This campy and heightened B-movie homage centres on Jake (Craig Wasson) a struggling actor who becomes obsessed with performer/body double Holly Body (Melanie Griffith) and is sucked into LA's seedy underworld. Intentionally lurid and violent, Body Double split critics on it release. While some responded positively – Roger Ebert called it "an exhilarating exercise in pure filmmaking" – others criticised the film as sensationalist schlock and "creepy crud". Body Double was particularly strongly critiqued by feminist commentators who drew a link between De Palma's depiction of violence and real-life violence against women, an accusation that has followed the director across his career, much to his annoyance. "I got slaughtered by the press right at the height of the women's liberation movement," remembered De Palma in a 2016 interview. "I thought it was completely unjustified. It was a suspense thriller, and I was always interested in finding new ways to kill people."

Body Double has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately, with a new generation of critics restyling the film as a misunderstood gem. As time has passed De Palma himself has evolved from enfant terrible to filmmaker's filmmaker, becoming the subject of an admiring documentary helmed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, and increasingly celebrated for his influence. Certainly, one can sense Body Double's bloody fingerprints all over Ti West's X (2022), a kitsch slasher flick about a porn crew who are stalked by a frenzied killer, which draws heavily on 70s exploitation films but has more than a dash of De Palma's camp sensibility, dark humour and stylised violence.

Although not to everyone's taste, Body Double's self-conscious excess serves a purpose, indulging in Hollywood excess while simultaneously critiquing it. Like Anderson, De Palma constantly references other filmmakers, particularly Alfred Hitchcock – the film's plot riffs directly on Vertigo and Rear Window – and these references have gained new potency over the years. Watching Body Double today brings to mind Hitchcock's abusive treatment of actor Tippi Hedren (Griffith's mother) and this connection adds another layer to the film's commentary on Hollywood's abusive dynamics. With its nudity and violence Body Double has its cake and eats it, but it nevertheless asks provocative questions. If Hollywood can serve up the same salacious thrills – and exploitative dynamics – as porn, where does the division between the two industries lie?

'Porn wars'

Alongside other explicit Hollywood films of the era, Body Double was caught up in a furious debate around depictions of sex on screen which became known as the "porn wars". One of the key arguments of the porn wars was that pornography inevitably exploits female performers. In 1986, Linda Lovelace herself became an ally of anti-porn campaigners when she testified before Congress that she had been violently coerced into appearing in Deep Throat, stating shockingly that "virtually every time someone watches that movie, they're watching me being raped". Lovelace's testimony called into question the idea of sexually liberated femininity that underpinned "porno chic" and exposed the potentially troublesome dynamics of the industry.

This story was itself dramatised in 2013's Lovelace, a biopic starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role and co-directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. That biopic is solid if unremarkable, but what is interesting is the way the film presents Lovelace's life story as a contested narrative, first offering  the image of Lovelace as a liberated star before correcting this account by showing Lovelace's own point of view. In this sense, the film anticipates later post #MeToo work – think Promising Young Woman (2020) and The Assistant (2019) – which use unreliable narrators and withheld information to capture the difficulties faced by women who attempt to report abuse.

Lovelace's experience also demonstrates that the roots of #MeToo, a movement popularised by Hollywood that would later expand into other industries including porn, run deep. In Boogie Nights, Anderson mostly shies away from questions about exploitation, presenting his female characters as enjoying their work. However, a key turning point in the film is the arrival of VHS, a technological advancement that transformed the industry in the 1980s. Just as the internet would decades later, VHS turned the industry upside down, making it possible to shoot films quickly and cheaply which could then be watched by customers in their own homes instead of in cinemas. Notably, the only time in which we see a female performer become a victim of abuse is after this shift, in a sequence in which Roller Girl has sex with a stranger for a television show. Anderson contrasts the gentler, affectionately made analogue porn of the Golden Age with the exploitative "shock factor" porn of the 1980s, and in doing so suggests that it is this shift in industry dynamics, rather than the nature of the films themselves, that leads to exploitation.

Boogie Nights' depiction of the impact of VHS clearly echoes the way in which in the industry has been transformed once again in the past two decades by the availability of online porn. This technological shift plays a central role in more recent films set in the world of porn and sex work, such as Sean Baker's Red Rocket (2021), about a washed-up porn star who returns to his hometown when his career hits the rocks, or Daniel Goldhaber's Cam (2018), an effective horror centred on a camgirl. In these films, online porn serves to shape both plot and aesthetics, feeding into hyperreal visuals that blur the lines between fantasy and reality, reflecting the way that the hyper-accessibility of explicit material online has led to the "pornification" of imagery in mainstream popular culture, fashion and advertising.

The same is true for Ninja Thyberg's 2021 film Pleasure, which follows a young Swedish woman as she navigates the LA porn scene, offers a nuanced reflection on the internet's impact on the industry through a post-#MeToo lens. Like Boogie Nights, Pleasure centres on a newbie attempting to make their name, but Anna (Sofia Kappel) is a less passive character than Eddie. Over the course of the film we see how Anna makes her name, using social media to build a following, exploiting her friendships and mimicking the violence of her male peers in order to establish her dominance.

Yet at the same time as acknowledging the potential for exploitation, Pleasure also offers alternative perspectives, showing us areas of the industry in which performers are treated with kindness and consideration. Thyberg originally approach the film with a strong anti-porn perspective, but after immersing herself in the world of LA porn and meeting a range of performers and filmmakers, her view evolved into something more ambivalent. In Boogie Nights, Anderson cast porn actors in small cameos, but Thyberg takes this approach much further, casting performers in many roles across the film and working collaboratively with those in the industry to shape the film.

This approach has in itself proved controversial, with some of the performers and professionals involved in the production expressing reservations about their portrayals and Thyberg attracting criticism for not working with an intimacy coordinator. Nevertheless, this grey area is in itself consistent with a film that deliberately generates a sense of unease in its audience, leaving the question of whether Anna is empowered or exploited by her work unanswered.

Ultimately, the best films about pornography, the likes of Boogie Nights and Pleasure, reveal something audiences should already be aware of. Filmmaking, whether pornographic or mainstream, is an industrialised art form and as such is plagued by the same power imbalances as any industry in a capitalist society. Beneath the gloss, the glamour, the sleaze and the sex, these films remind us that the people who work in these industries are human, as complex and contradictory as any of us, regardless of the work that they do. By humanising porn performers and crew, these films put forward a compassionate case for taking this industry, and the rights of its workers, as seriously as we take any other. What could be truer, righter or more dramatic than that?



Danielle Haim posted photos of a 25th Anniversary screening on the Warner Bros. lot last night.


QuoteWidely-raved 1997 film Boogie Nights, starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds, turned 25 this year. In celebration, a special screening was held at Warner Bros., featuring an introductory Q&A with director Paul Thomas Anderson, producer/studio executive Michael De Luca, and a surprise appearance from cast member John C. Reilly.
Not only did the year 1997 bring the cusp of Gen Z, but it simultaneously introduced the world to writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson's sophomore masterclass Boogie Nights — if zoomers haven't seen this movie before, now is the perfect excuse to do so. With a talented ensemble, the plot follows Dirk Diggler and his rise to fame in the booming 70s/80s pornography business and his consequential downfall, influenced by those around him. The dramedy passed its 25th anniversary on Oct. 10, and on Dec. 5, Warner Bros. Studios held a special restored 70mm print screening in their Steven J. Ross Theater. Hosted by Pamela Abdy and Michael De Luca, co-Chairpersons and CEOs of Warner's Film Group — the latter of which described PTA as "an American master storyteller — Anderson introduced the film with a 45 minute Q&A, alongside a special appearance from actor John C. Reilly, who plays the character Reed Rothchild. Here are the behind-the-scenes takeaways about the making of the cult classic, which still holds up today as a modern masterpiece!

The Inspiration & Original Fictional Documentary Format

The feature film that audiences have come to love was pulled from Anderson's first original short film, The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), which he had written at 17. Inspired by his favorite films at the time, Zelig (1983) and This is Spinal Tap (1984), it was filmed in a mockumentary format, detailing the rise and fall of the fictional male porn star. "It was great because, on video, nothing ever looked like a movie; it didn't look good," Anderson said. "I thought, well, I can't really make a movie that looks good, so what if I made a movie that looks bad like a video tape looked?" Additionally, he had liked porno enough at the time and had seen a story on the TV news magazine, A Current Affair about an aspiring Hollywood porn actress who met a tragic end. Growing up locally and experiencing the making of porn movies resonated with him to become the subject of his next feature story. After receiving positive feedback and support from the short, he decided to translate it into a full feature length, which took 8-9 years to develop. "I have to remind myself of this every time I write something is how long it takes," the writer-director said. "I wrote it as a feature and still a fictional documentary, so it would be narration, interviews, stuff like that, but that didn't really work. The benefit of that is I had kind of written this real story as a documentary, so I adapted it as a fictional film, a real film you would make."

Casting & its Initial Plan

A young Mark Wahlberg plays the legend himself, Dirk, having only just four prior movies under his belt after getting nationwide recognition for his physique in Calvin Klein underwear modeling campaigns. "[Philip Seymour Hoffman] and I, we'd throw stuff back and forth improvisationally; you've got to keep up, you know," said John C. Reilly when talking about Wahlberg. "I thought, wow, what's this underwear guy going to do, and he just fell right in. I was impressed with him right away that he's able to understand the sense of humor behind all of it, not just be able to improvise and play the character, but understand why we all thought it was funny." But did you know Anderson originally aimed for Leonardo DiCaprio to have the role? Reilly — who Anderson also worked with for his debut film, Hard Eight — had worked with DiCaprio previously, who Anderson also got the chance to meet and thought would be a great fit. Ultimately, he decided to do James Cameron's classic Titanic (1997) but put in a word for "Marky Mark" after working with him on The Basketball Diaries (1995), which hadn't come out yet. "I sat down with [DiCaprio] at one point at Cafe Figueroa, and I thought, 'I'm going to close this one for Paul,'" comedian Reilly said. "I met Leo when he was 17, and I was like, I'm going to tell him the right thing to do here; he respects me as an actor. So I was like, 'Listen. The Titanic is about a boat that sinks. Everybody already knows the boat sinks, they're not going to give a shit about who's on the boat. You should not do that movie, you should do this one, or you'll regret it.' Well, he does regret it to this day, I guess."

Anderson also planned for Jack Horner to be played by Jack Nicholson, who didn't even bother before meeting Burt Reynolds. He also toyed with the idea of Sydney Pollack for the role, which he claims wasted months, then finally returned to Reynolds. "While it was very challenging to work with him, ultimately, it was completely worth it," Anderson said. "I saw the film again, getting it ready, watching this print, and was just sort of really moved by his performance in a way that was hard to navigate at the time. It was difficult, I was a young filmmaker and probably very bossy, and he was a grizzled veteran who didn't really want to hear too much of it. We made our way through it, and it's great to see him up on that screen." Julianne Moore had signed on early for the role of Amber Weaves, a major deal for PTA, who didn't have enough credibility at the time. He described it as a "stamp of creative approval" that gave him the legitimacy he needed. Anderson had written the hilarious part of Scotty specifically for the late Seymour Hoffman, and the more he saw of Reilly's work, he found him perfect for Reed Rothchild. Anderson spent a lot of time with the pair, along with Wahlberg, messing around and familiarizing themselves with the characters before filming. "By the time we were shooting, they knew how to inhabit their characters and talk to each other in a particular way," he said.

The Film's Musical Styling

Half a million dollars of the film's $14 million budget was dedicated to the music, which was a significant amount set aside for a music budget at the time. "The type of story that it is, you're going to drive it forward with all the colors of music, music more than score," Anderson said. The soundtrack has an eclectic mix of classic 70s hits, resulting in two volumes being released, one at the time of the film's initial premiere and the second coming a year later. Anderson said it was like going through an extensive record collection at a time when you can spend 50 cents each and have tons of songs at your disposal. He'd particularly search for things he didn't know, coming across odd stuff like Stan Bush's song "The Touch" from The Transformers: The Movie (1986) soundtrack, which Wahlberg gives a comically bad rendition of in Boogie Nights. "We found that if a porn star would make a song, well, that's a great one," Anderson said. Karyn Rachtman served as the music supervisor, and PTA credits her great ability to secure songs for a good price, particularly through their Capitol Record deal. This included the film's final Electric Light Orchestra song, Jeff Lynne's "Livin' Thing," and Anderson specifically wanted to get the singer into the screening room. "I stood in the projection booth, and I watched the back silhouette of his head watching the movie," Anderson recalled. "It gets to the end of the film, and his beautiful song 'Livin Thing' starts; I see the back of his head, and I just see him [put his fist in the air]. He got it, he got the song. He was just raising his hands like yeah, you can have my song; turn it up."

Research & How Side Characters Came To Life

Of course, Anderson wanted to be authentic with his movie in terms of portraying porn stars, so there was no other better way than researching the industry for himself. In anticipation of Dirk's award-winning scene, Anderson, Reilly, and De Luca attended the 1994 Porn Awards in Las Vegas, which Reilly added that you needed to be in the porn industry to go to the event back then. There's also the story of Anderson's self-described "one of the most uncomfortable moments in the history of my life." In a tiny 10×10 room of the Farmer's Daughter motel with Anderson, Moore, and former porn actor Ron Jeremy, a guy had been filming his wife having sex with another guy. "We were like, I think we got it; we don't need to do any more research," the director concluded. He went on to share that Don Cheadle's radio obsessive, stylistically lost character Buck Swope — whose name pays homage to Robert Downey Sr.'s film Putney Swope (1969) — was taken from a Black porn actor Anderson had seen who always tried on different outfits, never sticking to one style. "Porn seemed to be predominantly white in the 70s, and then there was this guy who'd turn up in a cowboy outfit; he was always just trying on different styles," he said. The character's story is just one example of Anderson's exploration of porn stars' attempts to straighten out their life, yet are followed by their lingering past that they can reconcile with or ignore, facing unexpected repercussions. And right before the movie played, he shared a short story of William H. Macy's famous accidental line, "My wife has an ass in her cock in the driveway. The actor — widely known for his portrayal of alcoholic dad Frank Gallagher in Shameless — played side character Little Bill, who caught his wife with other men in a running gag. "The line is 'My wife has a cock in her ass in the driveway,'" Anderson jokingly clarified. "We did it the first time, and I said, 'That was a great mistake.' I pointed it out; I wasn't fussy about the lines; I just laughed, 'Oh, that was funny, you flipped it.' Then he did it again accidentally, and I just thought, well, no use trying to fix it, and that was that."

PTA's Learned Lessons & How The Final Cut Was Nearly Not His

De Luca was previously New Line Cinema's former President of Production, overseeing various big productions that defined the studio in the late 90s, including Boogie Nights. It was a tumultuous time at the company after numerous failures, so they decided to invest in the early 90s renaissance of writer-directors, which led them to the discovery of Anderson. "If any of you watched ['Hard Eight'] and met Paul, you would've made the same call we did," De Luca said, describing their thus 25-year relationship as a brotherhood. "Paul's scripts just read like the movie. It was exhilarating to read this thing, it checked all of the boxes of what we were looking for at the time — nothing else like it, completely audacious, bold, a big swing." Anderson maintained their requirements of keeping it R-rated and not four hours long, but near finishing the movie, De Luca's boss and founder of New Line, Robert Shaye, felt he could improve on the cut for the film's release. This was before Anderson was protected by the director's final cut privilege, but De Luca gave Shaye credit for ultimately allowing Anderson's version to go out after the pair told Shaye they didn't like his upon viewing. The director said it was gnarly for him briefly, hitting a peak he'd hoped it wouldn't reach with Shaye when test screening scores were "dreadful," despite the room being full of laughter. "When I met him, I had a bad time on my first film and was looking for somebody who felt like they were a comrade and I can trust them," Anderson said. He found that in De Luca, who helped guide him through the process, and when both versions received the exact same score in retesting, Shaye moved on, with De Luca giving Anderson the go-ahead to "finish the film how you need to finish it."

This was Anderson's first time in a screening room, which is just one of everything that he says he learned as a filmmaker while on the Boogie Nights set, a "larger situation" compared to his directorial debut. It was the most editing he had done, as well as for the film's editor Dylan Tichenor, who had more experience than him on the cutting room floor, which is where Anderson says he learned the most. "I just remember it as the most fertile, creative time, young enough to have the energy and enthusiasm, but not really knowing how to do it," Anderson said. "Sometimes, you'd be dealing with Burt Reynolds, who wouldn't always know his lines but could get the meaning of the scene across. It was a learning curve of figuring out well he's getting the meaning of it, he's not saying it how it's written, but how do I learn how to improvise as a director and what coverage do I need to work in the editing room?" Reilly immediately saw Anderson's focused intensity as a director juggling a star-studded, strong-willed ensemble. "That was a brilliant thing on [Paul's] part though is even though you didn't have this comfort like you had with every other actor in the film, you saw that no, it's OK, this guy's of a different generation, he's supposed to be," the actor said. "It was really comfortable to know 'No, no, I see the horizon. Keep doing what you're doing; I see where we're going.' He gave us a lot of protection and comfort to do the crazy shit we do." As he watched everybody have a fun time during production, Anderson knew he wasn't going to have the same carefree experience, driven by his determined goal to complete the film and not be swayed. Unlike the movie's characters, he jokingly said there was "no sex and drugs for Paul" because of the director's necessity to keep their mind straight while making a movie about people going crazy. "It was nice to be sharp in my decisions and leadership but watch everybody else swirl around and be crazy," he said. "My joy was just in watching them work and getting the footage that I needed to get into the cutting room."

You can currently catch the iconic film on Paramount+ or on Showtime.


Kudos to the author.  That's a very thorough write-up on the Q&A.  :bravo:


As The World's (Self-Appointed) expert on BOOGIE NIGHTS locations, this guy is good.  One of the best of these I've seen. (I think he's incorrect about Reed's magic club, tho.)


Have these been seen before?