'Real Sex Is Easier to Film Than Fake Sex' and More from Boogie Nights


Just in time for Christmas, here’s an in-depth look at Hollywood’s glitziest film about porn, Boogie Nights! *insert tasteless joke about Christmas and balls here*

Grantland published a sprawling oral history of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film Boogie Nights and it is interesting, even to folks who aren’t film nerds like me. Here are some highlights:

Leonardo DiCaprio was almost Dirk Diggler.

There were only a couple of people who could play Dirk Diggler. Mark Wahlberg was my first choice. Paul loved Leonardo DiCaprio.

Marky Mark felt stymied by his “underwear background.”

I was reluctant to even read the script because of the subject matter. Showgirls had just come out. That movie was a disaster. And you know coming from the underwear background, the music stuff, I was like, “Ehh, I don’t want to do this.” But there was just so much hype around the script. – Wahlberg

Julianne Moore was always a genius.

Paul gave the script to Michael De Luca and Michael was dating Julianne Moore at the time, or had dated her previously, and gave her the script. When she said, “I really love this,” the entire thing got going.

There is a Meryl Streep of the Valley.

Bob Shaye, the president of New Line, suggested [casting Traci Lords], so I guess I rebelled. I must have a problem with authority. [Pauses.] However, I did cast Veronica Hart. She’s not only a great person, she’s the Meryl Streep of porn. – Anderson

The costumes were fantastically and painstakingly curated by costume designer Mark Bridges.

I think Don Cheadle wore, like, original Sonny Bono vintage performance clothes. One of my dresses belonged to a Pointer Sister. – Nicole Ari Parker

Burt Reynolds almost knocked out Paul Thomas Anderson, Thomas Jane and William H. Macy.

Paul was directing this big, sprawling movie. And I just think for whatever reason he was like, “I don’t have the mental or emotional space to give Burt what he needs from me.” By the time we got to that moment, Burt was just like a tinderbox and Paul provoked him slightly and he fuckin’ blew. I think Paul was physically afraid that day.
We were in one of the scenes, the bedroom, and I made some crack about Smokey and the Bandit. It’s the kind of humor that’s gotten me in a lot of trouble before, where I’m basically just insulting people. But the idea being, everyone will laugh, and you’ll realize my insult is hyperbole. Whoo-ee. I thought he was going to come across the bed and knock my teeth out. – Macy

But Reynolds delivers classy apologies.

But Burt was cool enough to apologize. The next day Burt Reynolds bought me a bottle of champagne. It was sitting in my trailer, my little two-bit trailer, with a note that said, “I’m sorry.” – Thomas Jane

Simulating sex scenes is more time-consuming than filming actual sex.

Nina (Hartley) said to Paul, “It takes so much more time to simulate the sex scenes.” Like laughing, not being serious, but she was like, “Why don’t we just do it for real? It’s so much quicker.” I’m like, “Well, honestly, we can’t do that in this movie.”

Ironically, in a movie about porn, most of the non-porn actors avoided the porn stars like the plague.

Macy didn’t treat me like a leper. He treated me with respect and professionalism. And I really appreciated that, because except for the people in the makeup trailer, no one else really spoke to me. Wahlberg, on my first day of shooting, came up and said hello; he talked to me for five minutes and then walked away and that was it. And Julianne Moore came in the makeup trailer one time, looked in my direction; I couldn’t read the expression on her face and she left quickly thereafter. But none of the female performers came up to me and said, “Hi, hope you’re having a good time.” – Hartley

Image via New Line Cinemas.

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