15 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About 'Boogie Nights' And PT Anderson Movies

Punch-Drunk Love

Sony Pictures Releasing

Paul Thomas Anderson has become a favorite among both Hollywood folk and cinephiles over the years — what with him using great actors like Daniel Day-Lewis on the regular, and getting Adam Sandler to go from Happy Gilmore to Punch-Drunk Love. That right there is no mean feat. With Boogie Nights celebrating its 25th anniversary today, we dug up some interesting behind-the-scenes facts about PT Anderson’s many great movies that go down well with some pudding.

Hard Eight: The Short Film That Came Before

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Paul Thomas Anderson made his feature-film debut with this movie that stacks a lot of big-name actors doing stuff in a casino. Its inspiration came from a short he did in 1993 called Cigarettes & Coffee that premiered at Sundance and led to Anderson joining their Directors Lab.

Boogie Nights: Mark Wahlberg Wasn’t Interested Because Of Showgirls

New Line Cinema

PT Anderson’s second feature film — based on the life of porn star John Holmes as well as Anderson’s short film he made as a teenager called The Dirk Diggler Story — didn’t interest Wahlberg initially because of the 1995 Paul Verhoeven flop. 

Wahlberg explained: 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. So finally I started reading it. I got 35 pages into it, I put it down, I said, ‘I’ve got to meet the director.’ I said, ‘This guy either finally wants me to take the Calvin Kleins off, or he wants to make a really serious movie.’”

Magnolia: PT Anderson And John C. Reilly Parodied Cops

New Line Cinema

Before Boogie Nights came out and became a hit, Anderson and Reilly were unemployed and very much into Cops. Reilly grew a mustache, and it inspired Anderson to shoot a couple of shorts parodying the show. Some of Reilly’s lines in these sketches eventually made it into the movie.

Punch-Drunk Love: The True Story

Dubbed the “Pudding Man,” David Phillips realized back in 1999 that he could exploit Healthy Choice’s frequent flyer miles promotion by chucking some money at their puddings and getting 1,253,000 miles out of it. No word on whether he, too, had an infatuation with blue suits.

There Will Be Blood: It’s All About The Hat

Miramax Films

Costume designer Mark Bridges told The Washington Post that the sweat stains on that hat were real and that the hat itself was carefully chosen by the actor: “Daniel Day-Lewis felt the hats were very important to his character. There were three choices that were all good, and he took them and lived with them for days. He sort of creates mini worlds, and so he took them, just took them for a spin, so to speak, and settled on that one as what he felt most comfortable with and most represented in his mind the character he was creating. And it took on a kind of magic where he would be Daniel Day-Lewis, but you knew he was Daniel Plainview once the hat went on.”

Licorice Pizza: Alana Haim, Truck Driver

The actress and musician didn’t have a stunt double for that truck scene, and spent months learning how to steer a stick-shift truck to make the sequence more authentic.

Inherent Vice: The Muppets And Dennis Wilson

Warner Bros. Pictures

Anderson said that Owen Wilson’s character Coy was modeled after Zoot from The Muppets and a Beach Boys guy. “I was trying to think of ways that he could look, and there’s a little description in the book — white overalls, pink shirt, cowboy boots … that’s all. And I was trying to think of great sax players through the ages, and Zoot came to mind. He has that great bucket hat. And his nose kinda looks like Owen’s — you know, that big nose that Zoot’s got, right? So it’s a little bit Zoot, and it’s a little bit from a great photo I found of (the late Beach Boy) Dennis Wilson.”

The Master: Anderson Was Irked Over Everyone’s Focus On Scientology

The Weinstein Company

While Anderson did base Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Lancaster Dodd on Scientology dude L. Ron Hubbard, he did not care for the central connection everyone was making to the religion. “I was naive,” the director once said. “I should have known that's what people would latch onto.” 

Hard Eight: Fights With The Studio

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

While the film took only 28 days to complete its production and another three weeks to cut together, it took a long time for PT Anderson to agree on the final cut with the studio. Apparently, the people financing the movie were used to doing TV shows like Baywatch and didn’t quite understand the editing process of a feature film. It took a year of fighting to eventually let Anderson have his cut.

Phantom Thread: Chris Rock’s Influence

Universal Pictures

While there were many things that inspired Anderson to make this historical drama, a thought from comedian Chris Rock contributed to the auteur jumping in and doing it. As Anderson told Vulture: “Chris Rock once said to me, ‘Man, when are you gonna make a relationship movie?’ I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s a good one.’ If Chris Rock gives you a piece of advice, you should run with it.”

Magnolia: The Phone Numbers Were Real

The number Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character dials led to an actual recording of a flustered woman saying, “Please leave a message at the tone.” People who dialed the infomercial number in the movie would’ve heard Tom Cruise’s pickup artist character promote his “Seduce and Destroy” program that will “help you get that naughty sauce that you want. Fast.”

There Will Be Blood: The Kid’s Mom Was Scared Of Daniel Day-Lewis (At First)

Miramax Films

Young Dillon Freasier was cast to play HW, but his mom was weary (it was his first movie) and wanted to know who this Daniel Day-Lewis guy was, so she rented the movie in which he plays a diabolical mustache guy. Said the actor: “Dillon’s mom thought she’d go and rent a movie with that fella Daniel Day-Lewis. So she went and got Gangs of New York and was absolutely appalled. She thought she was releasing her dear child into the hands of this monster. So there was a flurry of phone calls and someone sent her The Age of Innocence and apparently that did the trick.”

Boogie Nights: PT Anderson Vs Burt Reynolds

New Line Cinema

Burt Reynolds cared neither for the director nor for the movie itself, and things got close to physical during the production. First AD John Wildermuth relayed the incident in an oral history of the movie:  “Burt got so frustrated he pulled Paul outside into the backyard and started yelling at him, like a father, you know? ‘You f-—kin’ little punk kid, don’t tell me what to do.’” Actor Tom Lenk said it was at that point that they “saw some fists flying from Burt Reynolds.” 

Co-star William H. Macy said that, in his opinion, Reynolds didn’t understand the movie. “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.”

Licorice Pizza: Based On Anderson’s Buddy

Universal Pictures

The character of Gary was inspired by the auteur’s friend Gary Goetzman who was once a child actor and ended up owning a waterbed company, a pinball arcade, and, yes — delivered a waterbed to Jon Peters. 

Punch-Drunk Love: Originally A Gangster Movie

Sony Pictures Releasing

Turns out that Anderson’s original idea for the movie in which Adam Sandler sucks at phone sex played more like a Tarantino gangster film than what we ended up getting. In 1993, Anderson wrote Knuckle Sandwich, a script with many similarities to Punch-Drunk Love — down to the line of wanting to smash a lover’s face with a sledgehammer — only with less romance and more casino robbing. And no sign of puddings.

Thumbnail: New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures Releasing


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