Pulp Fiction is an electrifying, mesmerizing motion picture. Pulp Fiction behind the scenes stories, on the other hand, are far less violent, but they offer their own entertainment value. On just his second film, director Quentin Tarantino assembled an A-list cast that included John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, and Christopher Walken. His story focused on criminals and lowlifes, asking us to identify with - and even like - them in unexpected ways. The snappy pop-culture references, twisty timeline, and creative violence left audiences breathless upon its release in 1994. And the mysterious glowing briefcase was a particular source of fascination. Pulp Fiction's impact on the industry was seismic - it reinvented the crime genre and set a template for indie films for years to come.
Making this classic wasn't always easy. The studio chief didn't want to hire John Travolta, there were disputes regarding the writing process, and a well-known rock band refused to allow one of their songs to be used on the soundtrack. Even if not everything went according to plan, it certainly went according to fate. The movie could not be more beloved.
Which of these behind-the-scenes stories from the making of Pulp Fiction is the coolest? Your votes will decide.
- 14,053 VOTES
Samuel L. Jackson Was Eating A Hamburger During His Audition, And The Prop Went Into His Most Famous Scene
Samuel L. Jackson won the role of Jules because of his massive talent, but also because of a hamburger. The actor was one of two people in contention for the part. On the day of his second audition for Tarantino, he was stunned to realize the other man, Paul Calderon, had been called back, as well. That irritated Jackson, as did Tarantino's lateness. Aside from being angry, he was hungry, so he went out to grab a hamburger and brought it back to the audition site.
In comes Sam with a burger in his hand and a drink in the other hand and stinking like fast food. Me and Quentin and [producer] Lawrence [Bender] were sitting on the couch, and he walked in and just started sipping that shake and biting that burger and looking at all of us. I was scared sh*tless. I thought that this guy was going to shoot a gun right through my head. His eyes were popping out of his head. And he just stole the part.
The effect was so menacing that they made sure Jackson ate a hamburger onscreen the same way.
- 22,826 VOTES
Samuel L. Jackson’s Jheri-Curl Wig Came From A Production Assistant’s Mistake
Samuel L. Jackson never intended for Jules to look the way he does onscreen. He had a vision for the character that included muttonchop sideburns and an Afro wig.
Tarantino sent a production assistant to the south side of Los Angeles to procure one of those wigs. Not knowing the difference, the assistant made a mistake, bringing back a Jheri-curl wig instead. Far from being displeased, Jackson loved it and insisted on wearing it in the film, over Tarantino's initial objections.
- 32,376 VOTES
The ‘Bad Motherf***er’ Wallet Was Tarantino’s Real Wallet
Appropriately, given his character's love of the 12-letter word, Jules has a wallet with "Bad Motherf***er" emblazoned on it. He brandishes it during a scene in a diner, during which Jules meets with Pumpkin.
The wallet actually belonged to Quentin Tarantino. He's a big fan of the '70s action movie Shaft, whose theme song uses those two words to describe its main character. The director loaned Samuel L. Jackson the wallet for the scene.
- 42,550 VOTES
Travolta Was Such Box-Office Poison, His Casting Almost Killed The Production Deal
John Travolta has been a household name for so long that it's difficult to remember the poor shape his career was in by the early '90s. Box-office hits like Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Urban Cowboy were in the rearview mirror. Most of his recent films had been duds, such as The Experts and Shout, both of which were barely released. The one bright spot had been his appearance in the Look Who's Talking series, about a talking baby. Not exactly Shakespeare.
Tarantino didn't care. He wanted Travolta to play Vincent Vega. Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein most certainly did not. He refused to approve Travolta's casting, instead recommending Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, or William Hurt. Tarantino recalled sending a term sheet to Weinstein's office with his demands, including casting:
One of the actors I had on the list was John Travolta. And it came back: ‘The entire list is approved … except for John Travolta.’
Weinstein was almost willing to scratch the production deal over the disagreement but, afraid of losing Tarantino, relented at the last second.
- 52,065 VOTES
A Recovering Addict Was Brought On As A Consultant For The Drug Scenes
John Travolta had the task of playing a character who uses heroin. While some actors take the Method approach and try to experience what their characters go through for real, Travolta realized that was not a good idea in this case.
To help his performance, Tarantino brought in a recovering addict to work with his star. This consultant provided Travolta with advice on how to realistically portray the effects of that particular substance. Specifically, he recommended that the actor get drunk on tequila while sitting in a warm bath to simulate the effect.
- 61,911 VOTES
The Script Says Marcellus’s Briefcase Contained Diamonds
Without a doubt, the most hotly debated question in Pulp Fiction has always been the contents of the mysterious glowing briefcase that Jules and Vincent are sent to retrieve. Multiple theories have been floated over the years, with one of the most oft-repeated being that it somehow contains Marcellus Wallace's soul.
The truth is a little more mundane. Roger Avery, who has a writing credit on the film, has claimed that the original screenplay said there were diamonds in the briefcase. He explained:
Originally the briefcase contained diamonds. That just seemed too boring and predictable. So it was decided that the contents of the briefcase were never to be seen. This way each audience member would fill in the blank with their own ultimate contents.
A likely inspiration for the briefcase's glow is a similar scene in the 1955 noir classic Kiss Me Deadly.