Saturday, December 5, 2015

Burt Reynolds Claims to Not Have Enjoyed Working on "Boogie Nights"

Center: Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights
If you're a fan of The Oscar Buzz's content, you'll likely know how big of a deal director Paul Thomas Anderson is around here. Over the course of his career, he's released a handful of contemporary favorites; including There Will Be Blood, The Master, and Inherent Vice. While he's always been great, it's hard to imagine his career being what it is without his sophomoric effort Boogie Nights. It was an expansive epic about the adult film industry that featured a lot of great performances, including several Oscar-nominated roles. However, there's one person who isn't as keen on the film as everyone else seems to be. It's the legendary actor whose role in the film earned him his sole Oscar nomination. That's right, Burt Reynolds doesn't like Anderson or the film. While this seems obvious considering that they haven't worked together since, it's still saying something about his gratitude.

Reynolds is likely an actor that you don't think about too much these days. Before the recent GQ interview that gives this information, he was auctioning off old memorabilia in order to pay off some debt. To modern audiences, he's likely not even a recognizable name, unless you like Smokey and the Bandit. Either that, or Boogie Nights - a film that not only revitalized his career, but earned him some of the most positive reviews of his career. As the disgruntled director who leads his adult film actors to fame, he is one of the most darkly comic characters in a film full of them. It is likely that intellectuals will be able to dissect Boogie Nights as being something other than just a dirty movie. It's about the evolution of media and how that effects celebrities. It's a complicated subject, yet Reynolds didn't quite think that way.

During the interview, he made a claim that he and Anderson didn't quite see eye to eye. While the director is seen as a visionary by today's standards, it's important to note how big of a catch Reynolds was for the film. Yet the borrowing of techniques from GoodFellas and various soundtrack cues likely didn't sit well with Reynolds, who claimed that:
Q: Would you want to work again with Paul Thomas Anderson?
A: I don't think so. Personality-wise, we didn't fit.
Q: How so?
A: I think mostly because he was young and full of himself. Every shot we did, it was like the first time [that shot had ever been done]. I remember the first shot we did in Boogie Nights, where I drive the car to Grauman's Theater. After he said, "Isn't that amazing?" And I named five pictures that had the same kind of shot. It wasn't original. But if you have to steal, steal from the best.
The quote isn't so much an attack on Anderson as it was likely how they viewed creating cinema. Considering how new Anderson was to the game, the quote of unprofessional camerawork does seem valid. It even seems right that a young Anderson would be that enthusiastic. Still, for an actor that got his start in action movies that involved driving cars, Boogie Nights seems like a great departure for him. While this is only of momentary discussion (another Anderson, Loni Anderson, takes up more space in the interview), it comes as both a strange dis and an acceptance that Anderson and Reynolds were not meant to be like Philip Seymour Hoffman or Joaquin Phoenix would later be.

Still, I definitely think that Reynolds should at least sound a little more humble about the man who resurrected his career momentarily and gave him an Oscar nomination. Because of him, he had one last bit of acclaim to his long and memorable career. Comparatively, he hasn't done much since that is worth noting (at least on scale with Boogie Nights). There have been films with the likes of notoriously awful director Uwe Boll, but never one that landed him anywhere near that sweet, sweet Oscar statue. While it seems unfair to tell Reynolds how to think, it would be interesting to think how differently his career would've been had he gotten along with Anderson all those years ago. 

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