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Interview about Boogie Nights with Stephen Schaefer

Stephen Schaefer
There has been all this stuff about Boogie Nights being a breakthrough for you, proving to everyone that you are an "Actor." But didn't you receive rave reviews for your performance in Fear?

Mark Wahlberg
Yeah, I got good responses, one way or another, for all the work that I have done. But this is the first time that people have seen something different or unexpected. I've finally played somebody who is likeable, who you might even feel bad for every once in a while --and a lot of people didn't think that was possible. Which is cool.

Stephen Schaefer
In Boogie Nights you do each of the three things you said you'd never do in a movie: dancing, singing, and stripping. Why did you decide to go ahead and do that? Did you feel this was make-or-break time?

Mark Wahlberg
I definitely felt like it had the potential of making me at least be seen in the light of being a serious actor, and I was going to do anything I had to do for the part. But there was also the downside. Yeah, it was scary, because if people focused on the things that I was hoping they wouldn't, it would definitely make it harder for me to get a shot like this again.

Stephen Schaefer
What kind of the trepidation did you have about displaying Dirk's greatest asset?

Mark Wahlberg
Have you talked to [director] Paul Anderson? My side and Paul's side are very different. We haven't been able to agree upon some things. He continuously says it's my penis. It's not my penis and I'm the only one saying it's not! It's his penis. [Laughs.]

Stephen Schaefer
Paul's your body double, huh?

Mark Wahlberg
I don't have a thirteen-inch penis. [Laughs.] It was complex. There was an instance, well after I was cast in the movie, where I had to go to this place and they wanted to see what I had. Paul has this joke that I walked in and pulled out this thirteen-inch penis, and he said, "You're the guy!" And that was it. But that was not the case. I had to go to this place and stand there naked while people looked at me and checked things out. There were makeup artists, wardrobe, special effects, part of the production office. There were probably, like twenty-five people there.

Stephen Schaefer
So they custom-built this prosthetic for you?

Mark Wahlberg
The thing is, I didn't actually have to wear it. We shot the scene two ways because there were always questions of ratings boards. One was where I stood up and I pulled down my pants, then the second version was that I just did the karate moves, said my line, and I didn't pull out the penis. Then I was sent home and Paul did a lot of weird things on the set . . .

When I tried to tell people about this movie, people thought I was putting them on. It's hard to believe, but it is true.

Stephen Schaefer
Were there scenes filmed of Dirk running around, waving his penis, that the censors cut?

Mark Wahlberg
No. [Laughs.] There was one other instance early in the film where this object of desire was shown, but they felt it was a little too much too soon. I was a little skeptical of it all. I also have a personal life and I want to be able to be happy one day. I am not married and I hope to find somebody--hopefully somebody who hasn't seen this movie. I know a lot of people that I am interested in want to see the movie. I keep telling them not to.

Stephen Schaefer
You've always had a sense of humor about yourself and what you're doing, even when you were a young kid--

Mark Wahlberg
I'm never going to take myself seriously. It's impossible! I mean, I do to a certain extent.

Stephen Schaefer
When we see Dirk play James Bond in his mind in those porno films-within-Boogie Nights, it's some of the worst acting ever put on film. Was that hard--to act so badly?

Mark Wahlberg
Yeah, sometimes it was hard to do it with a straight face. I remember on the last day, we were shooting 16-millimeter stuff for the adult film scenes, and I just couldn't bring myself to getting back there, because we had done all that stuff at the beginning. I was over it. But it was fun too--we would try to be as stupid as possible--get to compete with each other on that level, and in that way it was easier to get into that frame of mind.

Stephen Schaefer
Boogie Nights has a gay subtext. As a busboy at the San Fernando Valley disco, you're spotted by Burt Reynolds who says he sees something in you and you think it's for a private show. At that point your character has no hang-ups about guys.

Mark Wahlberg
No, anyone who gives him some attention. Anyone who wants to see it, he's more than happy to show. He'd walk around naked the whole time if he could.

Stephen Schaefer
But then later when he's Dirk, a star, and this overweight closeted gay guy on the crew who's devoted to him wants a kiss, Dirk pushes him away. What's in Dirk's head at that point?

Mark Wahlberg
There's a lot going on, he's just sniffed coke for the first time. He's high as a kite. This has obviously come out of left field. He probably had no problem liking him, just like everybody else. He's just in shock, and all these people are starting to go to him and he was being pulled by this one and that one.

Stephen Schaefer
What was the hardest scene to do?

Mark Wahlberg
The scene with my mom, played by Joanna Gleeson, was tough. The scene at Rahad Jackson's house with Alfred [Molina] was tough, which is my favorite scene--the one with the firecrackers going off. It was one of those days; it was our fifth day in that room and the firecrackers were getting to me. Everybody else was in such good spirits because they were coming in for one day and working, and then they go off for two weeks and come back. I was there for the duration, so it was tough, but it really helped in putting me in the right frame of mind for the scene.

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