|by Dov Kornits
Paul Thomas Anderson is the auteur for the new millennium: hip, articulate, out spoken, and with just the right cut of reverence for the good things that went down in the past. His first film, Hard Eight, was a minor classic that slipped under most people's radars, but the porn industry masterpiece Boogie Nights made them sit up and take notice. Now with his third film, the engrossing Magnolia, Anderson charts even more dangerous emotional territory. This epic character piece boasts a massive ensemble cast - Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John. C. Reilly - and an even more massive running time. All you need to know about Magnolia can be found within the walls of its 188 minute running time, so we got the juice from the PTA on a slew of other subjects.
Whatever You Do, Don't Smoke - "No fuckin' way. I know a lot of people who have given up smoking and they turn into maniacs. I started smoking when I was 18. I had just gotten out of high school and everybody smoked there. I hated everybody so I went the opposite way of what everybody did. 'You all just smoke cause you think you're cool. If I smoke I'm gonna smoke because I want to smoke, not because I think it looks cool.' So I got out of high school and I was sitting around by myself. 'I think I'll smoke. But I'll smoke in private. I don't want it to be a chic thing.' So I just started smoking and before I knew it, I was addicted."
Getting Started - "When I was seventeen, I made The Dirk Diggler Story[/] on videotape, which was a short fictional documentary version of Boogie Nights. Zelig format - interviews with people about Dirk Diggler. Then I stood on that, and kept writing scripts and stuff. Then when I was twenty one I made a short film called Cigarettes and Coffee, which went to Sundance and people saw that. I shaved four years off my schedule by not going to film school. I had this movie called Sydney, which became Hard Eight, and I got that financed because Gwynneth Paltrow and Sam Jackson wanted to be in it. I got lucky with that one."
Hard Times For Sydney - "The original title for my first film was Sydney. They thought it was a movie about Australia. I just said fuck off, you're just a fuckin' TV movie [referring to the release title Hard Eight]. It was released in America, got great reviews and nobody went and saw it."
Cruising With The Cruiser - "I've gotten to work with all the character actors I want to work with, but the biggest star actor I've worked with is obviously Tom Cruise. I fuckin' love him. He's the man. I love Tom Cruise. I mean I'm not going to pay him $20 million but he's a great actor. Top Gun sucked but I loved him in Color of Money, I loved (shouts) him in Jerry Maguire. I think that is such a good performance. It really reminds me of a Jimmy Stewart performance. It's really simple and he's very good. Funny, charming, lost and confused. He's really good at confused."
Warren Can Wait - "I got sidetracked because Warren Beatty called me up on the phone and wanted to talk [about Boogie Nights]. I was like 'you're wrong for this movie', but then a day later I was mesmerised by Warren and was like 'you're right for this movie, you must be in my movie' and he was like 'I don't want to be in your movie'."
Leo And Marky Mark - "Leonardo Decaprio was my first choice for Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. I met Leo and ultimately he decided to do Titanic and that has worked out real well for him. Leo is still great, a good guy and a friend of mine. Mark is great and better than Leo would have been. Leo is better than Mark would have been in Titanic. So everybody ended up doing the right thing."
No, really, it was THIS long! - "Yeah somebody said my movies are too long and I cut their fucking throat. No, New Line asked me once or twice whether it has to be this long and I said 'Yes, shut up.' It is what it is. It's long but if it was a minute shorter you'd say it was too short and if it was a minute longer you'd say it was too long."
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originally posted: 03/09/00 20:47:01