Hollywood lost one of its most magnetic marquee icons today with the passing of Burt Reynolds at the age of 82. The hunky star made his name in the 1970s and 1980s with a string of hits that took expert advantage of his good-humoured macho charisma. And he also earned critical acclaim for his big-screen performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 gem Boogie Nights. According to his co-star in that modern classic, however, Reynolds detested the film.
As Mark Wahlberg once explained to Yahoo Entertainment, the Smokey and the Bandit and Gator headliner was far from a fan of Anderson’s California-set porn opus, even though he received raves for his turn as adult film auteur Jack Horner — including an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. “Hated it, hated it” is how Wahlberg (who played aspiring X-rated stud Dirk Diggler in the film) described Reynolds’s feelings about the project.
“We were on the red carpet and he grabbed me in a headlock and said, ‘I don’t know why they like this movie so much, kid. But let’s just go with it.’”
Wahlberg believes that Reynolds’s derision of the film — and his subsequent refusal to campaign in the lead-up to the Academy Awards — wound up costing him a statuette. “He would have won the Oscar had he not dug such a hole for himself.”
Reynolds’s big problem with the film, according to Wahlberg, was the rhythm of Anderson’s script, to which he had a hard time getting accustomed. That motivated Reynolds to try to play his part with an Irish accent — a bizarre move that caused Wahlberg to burst out in laughter on the set, and which Anderson humoured for a few takes but finally (and wisely) nixed.
Though Reynolds claimed to have never seen the finished film, Wahlberg remains convinced that “Burt is fantastic in the movie, and I think he realized later on. One of the great performances of all time.”