Burt Reynolds never saw Boogie Nights, the 1997 drama about the porn industry in the early ’80s that revitalized Reynolds’ later career.
As the world mourns the acting legend, the subject of the Academy Award-nominated film will, of course, be discussed in the context of Reynolds’ expansive career.
In it, Reynolds plays Jack Horner, a San Fernando Valley adult-film producer in the 1970s, widely considered the heyday of the porn industry. Horner befriends Mark Wahlberg’s character Eddie Adams, who quickly rises through the ranks to become a star in the industry. However, drugs, crime, and the changing landscape of the adult-film industry (notably, the industry’s switch from reliance on screenings at seedy porn theaters to the home-video market) spell doom for Adams and Horner.
The movie undoubtedly was a shot in the arm to Reynolds’ career at the time, and even earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
And Reynolds hated it.
For starters, as he told Conan in 2018, according to The Playlist, he turned down the role seven times, saying the whole thing made him “uncomfortable.” At the time, he admitted that he had never seen the movie and that he had no desire to see it.
As he told The Guardian in 2015, though he had a reputation for being a playboy himself, he actually felt the subject matter – the adult-film industry – was “beneath” him.
“I don’t like those people, I feel like they are due for a very hard time because they tried to do legitimate film and they’re never going to be able to. It’s sad, they were very sad people and they showed up a lot of times on set. It’s a one-way street, if you go down that road as an actor, you’re finished.”
He also was no fan of co-star Mark Wahlberg, who got so into his role as the well-endowed porn star Dirk Diggler that he (Wahlberg) went around the set wearing a prosthesis to make it look like he had a continuous erection.
Most of all, though, Reynolds hated director Paul Thomas Anderson.
“No, I didn’t want to hit [Paul Thomas Anderson] in the face, I just wanted to hit him. I don’t think he liked me.”
Apparently, the feeling wasn’t mutual, however, as Anderson offered Reynolds a role in his next movie, Magnolia, but Reynolds turned him down.
“I’d done my picture with Paul Thomas Anderson, that was enough for me.”
Burt Reynolds likely died having never seen one of his most iconic performances for himself.