13 Facts About Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights

Although he had directed Hard Eight a few years earlier, Paul Thomas Anderson hit the stratosphere of acclaim and recognition with Boogie Nights, his epic riff on the California pin industry. The film was successful enough to get Anderson final cut on his followup film, Magnolia, and is widely regarded as one of the best films of the 90s.

Here are 13 interesting behind-the-scenes facts about Boogie Nights…

1. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally intended to play Dirk Diggler, but passed on it in order to film Titanic. Joaquin Phoenix also declined the role. Eventually, DiCaprio suggested Mark Wahlberg to Anderson.

2. The story of Dirk Diggler has often been described as a loose adaptation of John Holmes and his life. However, when Diggler proposes the idea of a serial porn detective story to Jack, Dirk says, “I don’t want to do stuff like Holmes is doing with his Johnny Wadd character, hitting women and stuff. That just ain’t right.” This leads the viewer to believe that Dirk and Holmes are rivals in the industry, not that Dirk is a direct representation of Holmes.

3. A laundry list of actors declined or were passed up for the role of Jack Horner, which went to Burt Reynolds. The list includes Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, and Albert Brooks. Warren Beatty and Sydney Pollack also declined the role.

4. After seeing a rough cut of the film, Burt Reynolds regretted making it and fired his agent for recommending the role to him. Reynolds ended up winning a Golden Globe and being nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.

5. According to an interview with PTA, he and Burt Reynolds did not get along during filming. Anderson still planned to hire Reynolds for Magnolia, but Reynolds became angry with Anderson during the film’s promotional tour and turned the role down.

6. Anderson simulated the dialog in the fake porn movies by adapting actual dialog from real porn movies. He said he did it so people could not say the porn dialog “sounded fake”.

7. William H. Macy’s agent told him not to even bother reading the script. Macy did, however, and loved it and immediately agreed to play Little Bill.

8. Macy’s character is loosely based on porn actor Cal Jammer, whose girlfriend Jill Kelly was having a secret relationship with actress P.J. Sparxx and another with a male porn actor. Jammer later shot himself in the head on Kelly’s front lawn.

9. 40 seconds were cut from the final film in order to avoid an NC-17 rating.

10. Mark Wahlberg was allowed to keep the giant prosthetic “member” used in the final shot of the film. He said it has begun to deteriorate.

11. Both Sean Penn and John Turturro were considered for the role of Rahad Jackson before it went to Alfred Molina.

12. The movie was banned in South Korea until 1999.

13. At the end of the film, T.T. Rodriguez and his brothers’ sign for the nightclub is misspelled as Rodriquez. This joke wasn’t planned in advance. Anderson misspelled Rodriguez in the screenplay and decided to make the scene funny.