Get Ready for 'Inherent Vice' by Watching 4 Classic Paul Thomas Anderson Interviews

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Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t do many interviews, a strategy that creates both more mystery around his dense, dazzling films, and a somewhat frustrating vacuum for film geeks who yearn for behind-the-scenes info from the master behind The Master (along with such films as There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights).

One of the few journalists Anderson allows to pick his brain is Charlie Rose, whose perch at PBS permits him a lot of time to go deep with his guests. Anderson first appeared on Rose’s show in 1997, to promote Boogie Nights, and with his next film, Inherent Vice, out in theaters this weekend, we thought we’d revisit some of his best moments on the show, to prepare you for yet another multi-layered cinema experience.

1997: Boogie Nights

Anderson was just a 27-year-old kid in big round glasses during his first interview with Rose, and presented himself as an enthusiastic film nerd. Back then, he cast pals Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in all of his movies, years before they were very famous. From the way he tells it, he was actually doing them a favor by giving them plum parts in Boogie Nights.

“They’re real good friends of mine and it’s great to write parts for them,” he told Rose. “I watch them kind of suffer in Hollywood, not being able to play parts that they should. If they’re good at playing a white trash hillbilly, they get the white trash hillbilly parts forever.”

Anderson was willing to admit that Mark Wahlberg was not his first choice for Dirk Diggler — originally, he was gunning for Leonardo DiCaprio. Unfortunately, DiCaprio had a small little boat movie he decided to do instead.

“Leonardo eventually decided to do the Titanic,” he explained, ”and Leo said, ‘Meet Mark.’”

In the second part of the interview, Anderson admits that the character of Roller Girl was inspired by watching porn late at night inside Robert Redford’s personal vintage-film vault at the Sundance Film Institute.

2000: Magnolia

A very made-over Anderson joined Rose again in 2000 to promote his epic drama Magnolia. Rose asked Anderson over and over a very fundamental question, one some Magnolia viewers are still wondering: “What’s this about?”

The filmmaker explains that the film is about “parent-children relationships, and how that informs who you are,” but Rose wanted something deeper — and so he gave him his own interpretation. The film, Rose suggested, is about American angst. Anderson had a lot to say about that.

He also describes the phone call he got from Tom Cruise, after the actor saw Boogie Nights: "That’s the phone call from the President of the United States of Movieland.”

In part two of the conversation, Anderson talks about his influences, including Robert Altman’s Nashville: ”Someone said this is like Altman on amphetamines, and I’ll take that,” he jokes.

2002: Punch Drunk Love

Now casually clad with an open collared shirt, Anderson teases his star, Adam Sandler, for looking like a real schlub; as we know 12 years later, his needling changed nothing about Sandler’s attire. But don’t worry, there was no real rivalry between the two, as Sandler and Anderson profess their love for one another throughout the interview.

The love-fest continued in part rwo, with Anderson praising Sandler’s work ethic. This led to a surprisingly earnest response from the goofball actor:

“Since I was 17, I wanted to be a comedian — I wanted to be good at what I did,” he said. “And I wasn’t that great at it for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever become a master, but I’m still trying to grow. It’s consumed my head, it’s what I woke up thinking: ‘I want to be good, I want to write jokes, I want to become comfortable as an actor.’ And I think that’s what drives me. I’m kind of obsessed with it.”

Sandler, in this third part, talks about his desire to not work as hard as had become his custom. His filmography in the last 12 years suggests that he was successful in reaching this goal (though to be fair, he was really good in Funny People).

2007: There Will Be Blood

Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his performance as the ferocious oilman Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, but he was quite delightful in this hour of conversation. Anderson says that he didn’t want to be so presumptuous to think that Lewis would want to sign on to the project — but of course, Day-Lewis says he was totally on board from the start, since the script came from Anderson. It’s all pretty romantic.

Then Rose makes fun of them a lot for making a movie that was incredibly unattractive — on paper, at least — to finance. ”You’ve just got to find someone who is mad as you are,” Lewis said, offering some very sound advice to aspiring filmmakers in need of risk-happy financiers.

In this second clip, Anderson talks about researching the oil rigs in Blood. Then Day-Lewis drinks several milkshakes that don’t belong to him.