Paul Thomas Anderson Explains Why Ricky Jay Couldn’t Stop Laughing During A Dramatic Scene In ‘Boogie Nights’

Between last week’s oral history of Boogie Nights on Grantland and this week’s Paul Thomas Anderson WTF interview, this past month has been a treat for those of us who can’t get enough Boogie Nights behind-the-scenes stories. The most recent one that stuck out to me is a story from WTF about Burt Reynolds’ line read of “Nevertheless.”

I couldn’t find an embeddable version online, but if you remember the movie, there’s a scene where Mark Wahlberg is screaming at Burt Reynolds’s character, demanding to shoot a scene, and Reynolds is telling him that he can’t shoot it because he’s been up for two days. Dirk protests that he hasn’t been up for two days, at which point in the original script, Jack Horner says “Nevertheless, you don’t look good and I’m not going to shoot you this way,” or something to that effect. Meanwhile, Horner’s cameraman. played by Ricky Jay (pictured, right) holds them apart.

ANDERSON: Every time Burt said ‘Neverthless,’ I kept noticing something was happening to Ricky’s face. I said ‘What’s going on?’

And he said, ‘I can’t… I’m suppressing laughter when he says Nevertheless.’

I asked why, and he told me this great story, of being at a football game where this woman is being introduced to sing the national anthem, and her name is Helen Forrest or whatever it is. And the announcer says, ‘And now to sing the National Anthem, Helen Forrest.’

And somebody in the stands screams, ‘HELEN FORREST SUCKS COCK.’

And the announcer [without missing a beat] says, ‘Nevertheless…’ [WTF]

Anderson says every time the film comes on cable, he can’t help but notice the pained expression on Ricky Jay’s face during that scene. Interestingly, the versions of the script I found online don’t have “nevertheless” in them, either because Burt was improvising the line or because PTA is botching the story, and I haven’t had a chance to watch the full movie to confirm. Either way, it’s a great story, and a fantastic reason to rewatch the film, just in case you needed another reason besides “Heather Graham as Roller Girl.” Seriously, I think I sprouted my first pube during that scene. I was 22 at the time, but still.