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Film

10 fascinating behind-the-scenes facts from 'Pulp Fiction'

Quentin Tarantino is currently looking to bid farewell to his illustrious career as a filmmaker with one final project. Although he has made modern gems such as Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, none of his subsequent films have surpassed what he managed to achieve in his 1994 magnum opus Pulp Fiction.

Starring the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Bruce Willis among others, Pulp Fiction had a definitive impact on the popular culture of the ’90s. The film reinforced Tarantino’s status as one of the most promising directors around, especially since he had already proven his talent through Reservoir Dogs.

Almost 30 years later, Pulp Fiction remains an indispensable part of the popular culture of today. The film’s influence can not only be found in contemporary productions but also in other aspects of today’s culture including memes. This list explores some interesting details about the making of Pulp Fiction through fascinating film trivia.

Check out the list below.

10 fascinating facts from Pulp Fiction:

The scene that was directed by Robert Rodriguez

It is no secret that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are best friends, having collaborated on multiple projects. Many fans of Tarantino are already aware that they worked together on many iconic films including the 1996 cult classic From Dusk Till Dawn.

However, Rodriguez was also involved in the making of Pulp Fiction as well. In fact, he directed one of the major scenes in the film which also featured Tarantino’s cameo as Jimmie – the anxious friend of Jules who wants to get ride of the corpse in his house before his wife comes home.

The hamburger scene was inspired by Samuel L. Jackson’s audition

One of the most iconic scenes in the film which involves Jackson chomping on a burger was actually inspired by Jackson’s audition. According to producer Richard Gladstein: “In comes Sam with a burger in his hand and a drink in the other hand and stinking like fast food.”

Adding, “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 shitless. 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.”

John Travolta took tips from a heroin addict

Fans of Pulp Fiction have propagated a lot of fan theories on the internet and one of them claims that the “pulp” in the title of the film actually refers to toilet paper. This theory revolves around the character of Vincent Vega (played by John Travolta) who is always on the toilet throughout the film.

While many might believe that to be a comic element, it is actually consistent with the fact that Vega indulged in the use of heroin and constipation is a common side effect. Tarantino even brought in a former addict to help Travolta prepare for the role.

Quentin Tarantino owned the “Bad Motherfucker” wallet

In Pulp Fiction, Jules – the character of Samuel L. Jackson – is probably one of the coolest of all time. He is a Bible-quoting hitman who has the intelligence and the grit to get out of any tricky situation. He also happens to have a badass wallet with “Bad Motherfucker” emblazoned on it.

In reality, that wallet actually belonged to Tarantino himself and it was he who added it as a prop in the film. The director later claimed that he had the wallet because he was a fan of the blaxploitation gem Shaft which was the name of the film’s iconic theme song.

The Knack stopped Tarantino from using ‘My Sharona’

When he was conceptualising the famous gimp scene in Pulp Fiction, Tarantino was determined about using The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ in the soundtrack for that moment. However, the band turned him down because they did not want their song to be associated with such a grim scene.

While explaining the character of the gimp in a later interview, Tarantino even revealed his fate: “It doesn’t quite play this way in the movie, but in my mind when I wrote it, the Gimp’s dead. Butch knocked him out and then when he passed out he hung himself.” 

John Travolta claimed that the dance scene was improvised

Tarantino is often accused of stealing scenes from other films and a prime example of that is the dance scene in Pulp Fiction. Many had claimed that Tarantino stole it directly from films such as Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ and Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low but Travolta said it was original.

“That was improvised quite a bit,” Travolta told The Daily Beast while maintaining that it wasn’t plagiarised. “I’d actually told Quentin about the dances I grew up with. The Twist is what he wanted, but I said, ‘There were other fun dances from that era! The Spin, The Batman, The Hitchhiker.”

Daniel Day-Lewis wanted to star as Vincent Vega

There were many great actors who were considered for the role of Vincent Vega which eventually went to John Travolta. Tarantino had written the part for Michael Madsen who had turned it down but there were other talents who were interested such as Daniel Day-Lewis. However, Tarantino was adamant about casting Travolta.

“One of the actors I had on the list was John Travolta,” Tarantino said. “And it came back: ‘The entire list is approved … except for John Travolta.’ So I got together with Harvey [Weinstein], and he’s like, ‘I can get Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, William Hurt.'”

Tarantino made Roger Avary give up the co-writer credit

Roger Avary is one of the forgotten contributors who had a huge impact on the creation of Pulp Fiction. When the film won the coveted award for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, both Tarantino and Avary were recipients of the prestigious accolade.

However, Tarantino made sure that Avary did not get the co-writer credit for Pulp Fiction and attributed him to the credits for the story instead. It was Avary who came up with the entire storyline of the boxer (played by Bruce Willis) but Tarantino paid him $25,000 to get him out of the writing credit and threatened legal action.

The script revealed the contents of the iconic briefcase

The mysterious glowing briefcase in the film whose contents are never revealed is borrowed from a lot of iconic masterpieces, including films such as Kiss Me Deadly and Repo Man. However, Tarantino has never explained what was inside that briefcase and has called it a “postmodern puzzle”.

Roger Avary shed some more light on the origin of the scene: “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.”

Pulp Fiction was supposed to be an anthology

Tarantino has always insisted that cinematic narrative should be non-linear and that the intersecting timelines in literary works were inherently cinematic. When Tarantino started making Pulp Fiction, he even planned on making it as an anthology film with different directors for different segments.

While explaining his artistic vision, Tarantino said: “I always thought that if you did it the way they did it in novels, that would be inherently cinematic. The cross-cutting would be neat. [Putting] it all in chronological order was inherently not cinematic. It was drab.”