What Really Happened With Leonardo DiCaprio And Mark Wahlberg's Boogie Nights Casting

Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio

Having already made a name for himself as the frontman of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Mark Wahlberg started dipping his toes into the world of acting in the mid-1990s, and arguably the most successful of his early movies was Boogie Nights. Wahlberg played Eddie Adams, a.k.a. Dirk Diggler, the porn star extraordinaire, but Wahlberg wasn't the only actor lined up for that role. Initially director Paul Thomas Anderson was interested in having Leonardo DiCaprio star instead, and there have been assumptions in the years since that there was a Leo vs. Mark situation over who would play Dirk Diggler. But Anderson has set the record straight, saying that the reason DiCaprio didn't appear in Boogie Nights is simply because he turned down the opportunity. Shooting down the rumors of conflict between the two actors, Anderson said:

That's urban legend. There was no Leo vs. Mark because Leo decided not to do the film.

It's important to mention that the reason Leonardo DiCaprio turned down Boogie Nights was because Paul Thomas Anderson's movie was shooting around the same time as James Cameron's Titanic, and DiCaprio has already signed on to play Jack Dawson in the 1912-set disaster movie. So it's not like DiCaprio and Wahlberg proverbially duked it out over who would be one of the leads in Boogie Nights. Scheduling conflicts merely got in DiCaprio's way, paving the way for Wahlberg to step into Dirk Diggler's shoes. Anderson later admitted in his interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast that looking back, casting Wahlberg was the right call, though he still hopes to work with DiCaprio one day.

Boogie Nights and Titanic were released in October and December of 1997, respectively, and they were both met with critical praise, though Titanic was also a commercial juggernaut and remains the second highest-grossing movie of all time (the first being Avatar, another James Cameron creation). However, when it came to the Academy Awards in 1998, Boogie Nights didn't hold a candle to Titanic, as the former earned three Oscar nominations and didn't win any of them, while Titanic earned 14 Oscar nominations and walked away with 11 of those golden statuettes. Nevertheless, both movies continue to be appreciated two decades later, and Wahlberg and DiCaprio's acting careers have thrived, so everything worked out for them in the end.

Mark Wahlberg can currently be seen playing Fletcher Chase in All the Money in the World, and while Leonardo DiCaprio's next movie isn't scheduled yet, it was reported a few months ago that he will be re-teaming with Martin Scorsese for a Theodore Roosevelt biopic. Paul Thomas Anderson's latest movie, Phantom Thread, is now playing in theaters. To keep up with all the movies coming out next year, look at our 2018 premiere guide.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.