'Boogie Nights' at 25: Mark Walhberg says Burt Reynolds hated Oscar-nominated film

Aside from being almost universally admired by film critics (as its 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes attests), Boogie Nights also earned late-career praise for the most iconic member of its ensemble, Burt Reynolds. Released 25 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1997, the movie was hailed as a comeback for the former pin-up, who had done little of note since his late-’70s/early-’80s heyday of Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run. Suddenly, Reynolds was being hailed as a potential Oscar winner.

But among the minority who did not love Paul Thomas Anderson’s stylish and electric tragicomedy about the adult film industry in L.A.’s late-’70s/early-’80s San Fernando Valley: Burt Reynolds himself.

He “hated it, hated it,” Mark Wahlberg, who starred as well-endowed porn sensation Dirk Diggler, told us during a Role Recall interview (watch clip above).

Wahlberg remembers Reynolds confessing as much to him as they reunited for the first time since shooting Boogie Nights together at the 1997 New York Film Festival.

“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.’”

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 08:  Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds and Pam Seals (l.-r.) attending premiere of
Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds and Pam Seals attend the premiere of "Boogie Nights" at Lincoln Center. (Photo: Richard Corkery/New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Reynolds did end up with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (one of three nods for Boogie Nights), but he barely campaigned for the statuette and ultimately lost to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting.

“He would have won the Oscar had he not dug such a hole for himself,” Wahlberg believes.

Reynolds’s distaste for the film began during production, and Wahlberg says his co-star’s major problem with the film was the rhythm of Anderson’s script, to which Reynolds apparently had a hard time getting accustomed. That inspired Reynolds to play the role of “exotic pictures” super-producer Jack Horner with an Irish accent during rehearsals.

“I just started laughing, because I thought he was messing around,” Wahlberg admits. “He didn’t like that too much.”

Still, Wahlberg considers the performance of Reynolds, who died in 2018 at age 82 and claimed he never saw a final cut of Boogie Nights, as the stuff of legend.

“Burt is fantastic in the movie, and I think he realized later on. One of the great performances of all time.”