AOL/Premiere Magazine Chat Transcript With Paul Thomas Anderson
November 17 1997
Boogie Nights is one of the most audacious movies ever to come out of Hollywood. An in-depth look at the Southern California porn industry, circa 1980, Boogie Nights, stars Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore, and it brings the era of sex, drugs and disco to vivid life. With its explicit sex scenes, its random violence and its portrayal of a feverish, out-of-control society, Boogie Nights is sure to be the most talked-about film of the year.
Astonishingly, its director, Paul Thomas Anderson, was a young boy during the period it chronicles. But the 26-year-old filmmaker has a vivid memory of the sights and sounds of the late 70s and early 80s -- the shag haircuts, the lava lamps, the water beds. Boogie Nights is his second feature (his first was Hard Eight, with Gwyneth Paltrow), but already Anderson shows the psychological penetration of a master filmmaker.
Join director Paul Thomas Anderson to discuss sex, drugs, disco and Boogie Nights.
OnlineHost: Paul Thomas Anderson is stirring up the movie industry with his second film, Boogie Nights. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds, it's an in-depth look at the world of adult filmmaking in Southern California, circa 1980. Boogie Nights brings the era of sex, drugs and disco to vivid life, and it's establishing Paul Thomas Anderson as a major director.
Question: Rumor has it that 30 minutes of the movie was cut from the final version. will these missing moments be returned in the video or cable version? When is the cable version due out?
PTAnderson: The rumor is true. I did cut about 30 minutes out of the movie. There will be about 15 minutes of supplementary material on the LaserDisc version. It will not be included in the film itself. Because the movie that's released is the best version of the movie there is.
PremiereMC: Can't wait to see it!
Question: What films or filmmakers have influenced you?
PTAnderson: First and foremost, Jonathan Demme. And then David Mamet, Francois Truffaut and Scorsese.
Question: Was it difficult directing a film with so much nudity?
PTAnderson: LOL. Absolutely not!!!!
Question: Being as young as you are, how were you able to recapture the 70's with such precision and accuracy?
PTAnderson: I relied on two things. My personal memories of my pre-adolescence in the 70s, and the wealth of research material that was available to us like films of the period, magazines, yearbooks of our crew members and all our photo albums.
Question: Do you create roles with specific actors or actresses in mind?
PTAnderson: Absolutely!!!! It makes it easier. It makes it more fun. And I get to give actors who are my friends roles that they would not normally get. John C. Reilly, Phil Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall are three friends who I love to write for. My next movie, I'll write parts for Bill Macy, Markie Wahlberg and Julianne as well.
Question: Haven't seen the flick. Do you have someone portraying John Holmes?
PTAnderson: No, but we have loosely based some of the things in the film on John Holmes and his Johnnie Wadd character.
Question: When does Volume 2 of the soundtrack come out?
PTAnderson: Is there anything that you would like to hear on Vol. 2?
Question: How did you get that opening shot. Was the most interesting camera work I've have seen in a long time.
PTAnderson: I rip off from the best. The opening shot was done with a Steadicam and we shot it in one night. We rehearsed for 3/4 of the night and started firing off the last quarter, and we did about 14 takes.
Question: How did you get to be an a director?
PTAnderson: I was arrogant enough to say "I'm the director." If you write a script that someone wants to make, you can blackmail them into letting you direct it.
Question: When did you first think of this film?
PTAnderson: When I was 17. I was watching pornos and fascinated by them. I saw a piece on the show A Current Affair on the death of Shauna Grant and it got me going.
Question: What was the hardest part of making Boogie Nights?
PTAnderson: I'd have to say that dealing with a ridiculous Hollywood process called "test screenings" where 500 strangers tell you how to cut your movie.
Question: Have you seen any recent pornography? If so what is your opinion of it?
PTAnderson: I've kind of lost touch with the new stuff. It really turns me off. I'd like to think that there can be some kind of renaissance and change within the industry.
Question: Where did you get the idea for the first porn take with the lens within the lens....I thought it was great.
PTAnderson: I'm not exactly sure. I just thought it was a good idea at the time. It seems to somehow make sense. It works in some thematic way but at the very least, it's a cool shot.
Question: The world needs to know, is it Marky or isn't it?
PTAnderson: It absolutely is!
Question: Have any adult film stars directly expressed their opinion to Mr. Anderson about Boogie Nights so far? If so, what do they think of the film?
PTAnderson: Most of the people in the industry really love the film -- like Veronica Hart, Nina Hartley and my namesake, Paul Thomas. There are, however, some who seem upset, but I'm not exactly sure why.
Question: It was brilliant how every song in the movie commented directly on the action. How did you choose the music? Did you have each song in mind while writing the script, or did you accomplish this during editing?
PTAnderson: I wrote the movie while listening to all of the songs you hear in the movie. It's all taken from music in my record collection. For the most part, the music came before the scene. You have to plan what music you're going to use before hand so you can clear the rights. Otherwise, you'll end up planning a sequence to music, get to the editing room and find out you can't have the song. Then you're screwed.
Question: What made you decide to cast Burt Reynolds as Jack?
PTAnderson: You can't write a movie about porno in the 70's with a character named Jack Horner and not think of Burt Reynolds.
Question: What is your next project?
PTAnderson: I'm not exactly sure, but it will star most of the same cast from Boogie Nights and my first film Hard Eight.
Question: Have you met many adult film performers? What are they like?
PTAnderson: Most of the people I've met are my friends.
Question: The movie was brilliant; can you explain the last scene?
PTAnderson: I think it explains itself -- not to be too cute.
Question: Hi..I went to the premiere of Boogie Nights and I just wanted to tell you that I absolutely loved it. Can you tell me what inspired you to make this film? Thank you. :-) Love, Roxanne
PTAnderson: Thank you Roxanne. I was inspired to try and sort through my feelings on pornography and recollect the place where I grew up which is the San Fernando Valley. I also wanted to take advantage of a story that could play as an ensemble piece so I could write a bunch of parts for actors that I wanted to work with.
Question: I have seen Boogie Nights twice and my question concerns Reynolds' character Jack Horner. Can you explain why you decided to make the Colonel's pedophilia the only conduct which Jack considered immoral, while allowing him to be tolerant of drug abuse, etc?
PTAnderson: I think that act really reflects the moral lines within pornography. Pedophilia is an absolutely unforgivable sin.
Question: How did you decide to create the suspense the way you did in the sequence with the firecrackers?
PTAnderson: I was influenced by a film called Putney Swope by Robert Downey Sr. Please see it. It's brilliant.
Question: Why was the South Bay chosen - I live in the area, and I was surprised when I heard Torrance.
PTAnderson: It was important to show that Mark's character would travel from Torrance to Van Nuys just to work in a night club.
Question: How much footage did you have to trim for the R rating and what were the scenes?
PTAnderson: We had to trim about 30 seconds, but no scene was removed from the film.
Question: What criticism did you face when making this film?
PTAnderson: None -- (LOL), that I know of.
Question: Was it a closed set?
Question: How did you get Mark Wahlberg to sing so bad with "Feel the Heat" and "You got the touch"?
PTAnderson: I asked him to sing the best he could, and he delivered.
Question: Does your house look like Jack Horner's House?
PTAnderson: I'm trying to make my house look like Jack Horner's house.
Question: Is it true that Burt Reynolds was not happy with the final cut of Boogie Nights?
PTAnderson: I'm not sure. I haven't spoken to Burt.
Question: What's the hardest part about making a period pic?
PTAnderson: The hardest part for us was that everybody remembers the 70s and 80s so you couldn't cheat on any of the details because people would call you on it.
Question: It's obvious that the Dirk Diggler character is fashioned after John Holmes... can you give us a clue as to who the other characters are patterned after?
PTAnderson: There's a little bit of Seka. There's a little bit of Veronica Hart. A little bit of Bobbie Hollander. A bit of Gerard Damiano. And there's a little bit of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.
Question: What's it like being 27 and being called a master filmmaker?
PTAnderson: Silly. But I'll take it.
Question: Did the cast get along?
PTAnderson: Everybody got along. This will sound like a cliche, but we had a great time!!!
Question: Will the video be released Letterboxed, by any chance-- please say it is?
PTAnderson: The VHS video will be released pan and scanned and letterboxed.
Question: Is it a coincidence that you have that same name as a famous 70's adult film star...that being Paul Thomas?
PTAnderson: Major coincidence.
Question: Paul? Since it seems like make-shift family relations are a reoccurring theme in your two films, do you plan on sticking with this theme in the future? Is a feeling that hits close to home?
PTAnderson: Yes. It's a theme I will explore further. And figure out how close it does hit to home.
Question: Mr. Anderson do you believe that the title of a film has the same importance to success as that of a book, and if so do you think Boogie Nights is a good title depicting the film?
PTAnderson: I think any title with two "O"s in it is a good title.
PremiereMC: We have time for one more question.
Question: What made you cast Mark Wahlberg as Dirk Diggler?
PTAnderson: He has a 13 inch penis so I guess it's typecasting.
PremiereMC: LOL. Paul, thanks! Congratulations on the success of your film!
PTAnderson: Thanks for the questions. See ya.
PremiereMC: And thank you, everybody, for joining us! Bye for now!