“You know this is the film I want them to remember me by.”
One of the scariest was during our first test for Boogie Nights, when Bill Macy gets the gun to kill his wife. It was a crowd of 18- to 24-year old college students and kids in Westwood. They cheered when he got the gun. I sank in my seat and thought, What have I done? How did I fuck up? Then he killed her and they cheered again. Then he shot himself. That time they shut the fuck up real quick. I felt better. I thought, OK, a point can come through here. But it still didn’t wipe away the notion that I’d somehow blown it. Plus, we’d gotten the audience with the usual sort of bullshit carnival-barker street recruitment. They’re always amped up for something that doesn’t accurately reflect what the film is. On Boogie Nights it was, “Come see the raucous new comedy about the porn industry.” Raucous comedy? Well, the first half is sort of wild and fun and outrageous. If that’s raucous, OK. So I figured, go ahead. Have your fun, because pretty soon someone will get hurt and what you have to watch will punish you many times over. Then the movie was 20 minutes longer, and those minutes showed incredibly severe, violent stuff. At the time I felt pretty good making them suffer.
|—||Paul Thomas Anderson interviewed by David Rensin, Playboy (February 1998)|