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Paul Thomas Anderson on How Friction With Burt Reynolds Helped Create ‘Boogie Nights’

A feud with the actor made some of the scenes in the film more real

Paul Thomas Anderson Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Burt Reynolds’s dislike of Boogie Nights is well documented, and when he was filming the movie, he feuded with director Paul Thomas Anderson. On the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Anderson confirmed that the feud happened — and explained how it may have helped the film.

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Simmons: There’s always a story about you and Burt Reynolds [going] at it on the set, and it was right during the famous scene when Mark Wahlberg [fights] Burt Reynolds. It really seems like they’re arguing, and you battled with Burt first and there was an intensity on the set for those two days, is that true or is that urban legend?

Anderson: That’s almost true. I think that when Burt and I kind of got into it, it may have been the day before or the day after, but it was a really tense three days on the set of Boogie Nights. The other 57 days were really fun and a lot of laughs, but there were three tense days there in the middle where Mark was fighting with Burt, or in the film. Looking back, it was really in the nasty part of the movie, too, when really everything’s kind of going wrong.

Simmons: You think in the movie that infects the actual set a little bit?

Anderson: I do, I absolutely do. Absolutely. When it’s the good times and everybody’s got their silk disco pants on and everything, we’re having a ball, it’s really fun. But when it starts to get cocaine-glossy and hangovers …

Simmons: Guys shooting themselves on New Year’s Eve …

Anderson: There’s all that, there’s blood, and the fun of it all was wearing off. It was the middle of summer, it was really hot, and we were all stuck together in that house for a long time, and things were just — they were heated.