This article originally appeared on eightieskids.com

One of the most exciting movies of the 1990s, Boogie Nights may be slightly controversial, but there’s no denying the impact it had. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s breakthrough film wowed critics and audiences, and helped launch much of its cast – most notably leading man Mark Wahlberg – to Hollywood superstardom, all whilst exploring the thorny subject of the adult entertainment industry in the late 70s and early 80s. Below are some things you might not have realised about this classic movie.

20. It’s based on the story of a real adult film star

NEXT

While the characters in Boogie Nights are fictitious, they were broadly modelled on real-life figures from the adult film industry. Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler is based on John Holmes, the most celebrated male performer in adult films in the 70s. Likewise, Burt Reynolds’ Jack Horner is an embellishment of Bob Chinn, who wrote and directed most of Holmes’ movies.

Holmes was the subject of a 1981 documentary entitled Exhausted: John C. Holmes, The Real Story. This inspired Paul Thomas Anderson to make a short ‘mockumentary’ called The Dirk Diggler Story whilst at film school in the late 80s, and this short film in turn became the basis of Boogie Nights.

19. It could have starred Leonardo DiCaprio or Joaquin Phoenix instead of Wahlberg

NEXT

Paul Thomas Anderson originally wanted to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Dirk Diggler. Alas, DiCaprio had to pass as he’d already signed on the dotted line to star in Titanic. Joaquin Phoenix was also offered the role, but he declined as he was uncomfortable with the subject matter. (Phoenix made up for it years later by collaborating with Anderson twice, in 2012’s The Master and 2014’s Inherent Vice.)

Reportedly, it was DiCaprio himself who suggested Anderson should instead consider Mark Wahlberg for the part, as the two actors had recently worked together on The Basketball Diaries. This was a big break for Wahlberg, who was still best known for his pop career as Marky Mark, and for his work as a Calvin Klein underwear model.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement