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Film

How Samuel L. Jackson's audition for 'Pulp Fiction' influenced the film's most memorable scene

Hunger waits for no man, and certainly, a serious case of the munchies isn’t going to interfere with Samuel L. Jackson and his pursuit of a major film role. By the same logic, if Jackson walks into your audition and pulls out some lunch, take the Quentin Tarantino route and get inspired.

Yes, when it came to Jackson’s audition for the fateful role of Jules in 1994’s Pulp Fiction, Jackson was in contention with another actor, Paul Calderón. Calderón impressed the crew with his first audition, but Jackson merely assumed it was a read throw and demanded a second audition. A time was set, but when that time came, Tarantino was late.

Jackson decided to get some lunch, and by the time he returned to the rehearsal space, Tarantino had arrived. Jackson was none too happy by the director’s tardiness, and when he was called in to do his take on the character, he brought his burger and his shake with him.

“In comes Sam with a burger in his hand and a drink in the other hand and stinking like fast food,” producer Richard Gladstein remembers. “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.”

Eventually Calderón was given a concession role as a bartender and Jackson landed the role of Jules. But the menacing image of Jackson chomping away at his lunch stuck with Tarantino, and he decided that a climactic scene in the movie should feature Jackson’s imposing eating abilities.

That’s how Jackson wound up stealing Brad’s burger during his interrogation of the group who have Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase. The slow burn as Jackson eats the burger and sips the soda is terribly unnerving, and to know that it happened in real life is just the icing on the cake.

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