I was going to do one of the videos that Paul Thomas Anderson directed for Haim today but I changed my mind at the last minute. That’s nothing against Haim or the video. Haim’s great and their videos — particularly the ones directed by Anderson — are frequently brilliant. It’s just, for whatever reason, I knew that today was not the day to write about their video for The Steps. That day will come soon.
Instead, I wrote about the video for Michael Penn’s Try.
Try was the very first music video to be directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. He directed it while he was editing Boogie Nights. Michael Penn, of course, did the score for both Boogie Nights and Anderson’s earlier Hard Eight. He can also be spotted in Boogie Nights, playing Nick in the recording studio and incredulously reacting to the efforts of Dirk Diggler and Reed Rothschild to record their own album.
When watching this video, pay attention to the blonde gentleman wearing the Planet of the Apes t-shirt. He shows up twice and, at one point, holds the microphone into which Penn is singing. If he looks familiar, that’s because he’s actor Philip Seymour Hoffman! When I first saw the video, I honestly didn’t recognize him. I just thought he was some random crew person who got the job because he could run fast enough to keep up with Penn. Of course, once I learned that Hoffman was in the video and I rewatched it, I immediately spotted him. I think it says something about what a good actor Hoffman was that, even in something like this, he could be so convincing that, despite being one of the most recognizable actors in the world, he still became somewhat anonymous. He disappeared into the role.
Thomas Jane and Melora Waters (who played Todd and Jessie St. Vincent in Boogie Nights) are also in this video, standing at the end of a a long line of exhausted dancers. (This was meant to be a reference to the film, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) There’s one other Boogie Nights reference, which is kind of interesting considering the fact that he and Anderson supposedly didn’t get along during filming. Keep an eye out for door with a purple 9 on it. That’s a reference to Burt Reynolds, who wore the number 9 when he played college football.