TORONTO -- One of the hottest tickets for this year's Toronto International Film Festival wasn't for a movie, but for a reading of a movie -- Jason Reitman's live read of Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 classic "Boogie Nights."
Some festival-goers waited outside Ryerson Theatre for more than three hours for a chance to listen to the "Boogie Nights" script being delivered by the likes of Jesse Eisenberg (reading the Mark Wahlberg role of well-endowed porn star Dirk Diggler) and Josh Brolin (Jack Horner), Olivia Wilde (Amber Waves), Jason Sudeikis (Buck Swope), Dane Cook (Reed Rothchild) and Dakota Fanning (Rollergirl).
Brolin just wrapped his part in Anderson's upcoming movie "Inherent Vice" two weeks ago and told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that he was still in "full PTA mode" for the reading.
"It was fun," Brolin says. "I love that Jack Horner part. I think it's one of the best roles Burt Reynolds has ever done. I loved Dane, actually. I had a great time with Dane. He was fantastic. I just know him as a stand-up but he nailed the drama too."
Reitman's connection to "Boogie Nights" goes back to seeing a test screening of the movie at the Beverly Center when he was 22.
"PTA was one of the big reasons I wanted to be a director," Reitman tells us over a quick Saturday brunch of chicken fingers and fries. "The cool thing about that script and the fun thing in reading it is it's easy to get lost in a PTA film in the visuals. It's so well shot. There's such an impressive use of music. The editing is phenomenal. So it's easy to forget that the writing is so good and the themes are so strong."
"And what's cool with the live read last night is there's no more of these snap zooms, no more of these strong dolly shots. And you get away from all that and you really start to think of it as a movie about parenthood and the search for a mother and father as well as a movie about the end of film. Because when you read the script, you really see the trajectory of film to digital. It's frighteningly prescient to be doing a movie about the end of film in 1997."
Calling the reading "13 inches of awesome" on Twitter after the event, Reitman has staged about 15 live reads over the years, most at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He staged "Reservoir Dogs" with an all-black cast, performed "Glengarry Glen Ross" with an all-female ensemble and did "The Apartment" twice with entirely different casts.
Only occasionally do the actors performing the scripts have connections to the original material. Reitman persuaded Susan Sarandon to reprise her role as the spiritualist baseball groupie Annie in "Bull Durham." When he staged "A Princess Bride," he had that film's director, Rob Reiner, read the grandfather role that Peter Falk played in the movie.
"It's fun to see people's different takes," Reitman says. "Olivia Wilde knows 'Boogie Nights' backwards and forwards. You can hear it. She nails every inflection. Jesse Eisenberg is the antithesis of Mark Wahlberg and yet his vocal style was really an interesting match, completely different, but completely truthful ... a very honest version of Dirk Diggler."
"This one was dirty," Reitman adds, laughing. "It was our first 18-over read."