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Watch: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketch ‘Fanatic’ Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck

Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck

Fifteen years ago, what would you have imagined the future held for Paul Thomas Anderson? What about Ben Affleck?  

In 2000, Affleck was coming off of “Dogma,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Armageddon.” Sure, he’d already won an Oscar (along with Matt Damon) for writing “Good Will Hunting.” But he was yet to make his feature directorial debut, which would come seven years later with “Gone Baby Gone.” The notion of “Argo” wouldn’t yet be viable, nor would the thought of casting him as Batman.

Similarly, P.T.A.’s career was just revving up. He had made “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights” and “Hard Eight,” but “Punch Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood,” and this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay nominee (and our pick for 10th Best Film of the Year) “Inherent Vice” were all yet to be conceived. 

So consider this a Throwback Thursday of epic proportions —behold the Paul Thomas Anderson written/directed, Ben Affleck starring “Saturday Night Live” sketch “FANatic.” In the skit (Anderson’s seventh credited directorial work on IMDb), Affleck plays Jason, Anna Nicole Smith’s biggest fan. Thanks to MTV’s short-lived series, “FANatic” (1998-2000), Jason gets to meet his idol, portrayed by then-SNL cast member Molly Shannon.

Still reeling from his parents’ divorce, Jason harbors suicidal thoughts. Of course, he knows Anna Nicole suffered far more than he did, and given her perseverance, he decides to keep living (okay, okay —the references to Anna Nicole’s refusal to kill herself despite all the traumas she faced might come across as unintentionally crass given her accidental overdose seven years later, but no one involved has been proven clairvoyant).

Watching the video, it’s funny to consider Affleck and Anderson’s subsequent accomplishments would eventually become. Affleck’s work as Nick Dunne in “Gone Girl” has helped revitalize his acting career (yes, “Argo,” we know), and though Anderson was already on the map, his later work would cement him as an incredible talent.

So happy Throwback Thursday, y’all. Here’s one from 2000. [via Reddit]

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