This fall, the movie that put both star Mark Wahlberg and director Paul Thomas Anderson on the map turns 20, the modern classic Boogie Nights. At the time of the movie’s release, Mark Wahlberg was best known as Marky Mark, a pop singer and Calvin Klein underwear pitchman, but he had started branching out into acting in the early 1990s with roles in Renaissance Man, The Basketball Diaries and Fear, before his breakout role in 1997’s Boogie Nights. According to the actor, he almost didn’t take the role. In fact, at first, he even refused to read the script for one important reason.
ABC News caught up with Mark Wahlberg, who said when he was first approached with the role of Dirk Diggler, he wouldn’t read the script because it was about the adult film industry. Eventually, he changed his mind, but he still wasn’t sure about the story. Here’s what he had to say about refusing to read the script.
“I wouldn’t even read the script because I was turned off by the subject matter. Then you start hearing from everybody in town, ‘No, no, you have to read this thing.’ Finally, I reluctantly picked it up, read 35 pages, put it down and said, ‘This could be really good or it could be really bad.'”
After reading the script, Mark Wahlberg decided to watch some of Paul Thomas Anderson’s earlier work, and while it isn’t specified what he watched, the actor most likely saw the director’s feature debut, 1996’s Hard Eight, starring his soon-to-be-co-star John C. Reilly. The young actor decided to meet with the filmmaker, and after that first meeting, he was immediately on board. Here’s what Mark Wahlberg} had to say about the audition process.
“I had to read with John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Thomas Jane. [Anderson] offered me the part right in the room. [I] would always be on set, whether I was shooting or not, just trying to learn from people.”
Mark Wahlberg explained that he was also meeting with James Cameron for the Jack role in Titanic, while Leonardo DiCaprio was meeting with Paul Thomas Anderson for Boogie Nights, although Mark Wahlberg said he wasn’t actually offered the Titanic role. While Boogie Nights wasn’t exactly a box office powerhouse, earning $43 million worldwide from a $15 million budget, it helped launched the careers for Wahblerg, John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Thomas Jane, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, Julianne Moore and William H. Macy. It remains unclear if there are any plans for a 20th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of Boogie Nights.