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Credit: Miramax

Film

How Samuel L. Jackson's Jules got his iconic hair in 'Pulp Fiction'

@Russellisation

As one of modern cinema’s most influential auteurs, Quentin Tarantino is known for having total control over each and every minute detail of his films, no matter how trivial the detail. Such has allowed the filmmaker to create such a formidable body of work, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Django Unchained and his modern masterpiece Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Famous for quite simply educating himself in cinema by watching mountains of films, bypassing film school altogether, Quentin Tarantino worked at a video store and developed an encyclopedic knowledge for the silver screen. Speaking about his ability to absorb film knowledge, he told The Talks: “[My] head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behaviour, people tell me a joke and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life and I remember it”.

Though Quentin Tarantino sparked his career with the simple, violent crime story Reservoir Dogs in 1992, it was his Palme d’Or winning Pulp Fiction that would truly establish his name in the industry. A blinding odyssey of American violence, crime and style would help to catapult the filmmaker to almost instant cultural prominence, Pulp Fiction starred the likes of Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel. 

Of the many iconic characters in the film, Travolta’s Vincent and Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules may just take the prize as the most influential of the lot, with the two suited hitmen becoming a memorable image of popular culture that still resonates to this day. Sporting two memorable hairdo’s, it was Travolta’s slicked-back hair and Jackson’s jerry curl wig that would long be remembered following the film’s release in 1994. 

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Speaking about the thinking behind the hairdo in a conversation with Michael Keaton for Variety, Keaton asks the Pulp Fiction actor if the hair choice was Jackson’s or the thinking of director Quentin Tarantino. Turns out it was a mix of both, with Jackson revealing: “Actually, it became mine because Quentin actually wanted me to have an afro wig, he wanted it to be a big afro, so the PA he went out to buy the wig, bought the wrong wig, she bought a jerry curl wig”. 

Continuing, he added: “She came back with and he was like ‘no, no I told you afro wig’, and I was like ‘no, this is totally right’ and I put it on and we had this whole thing and he started fussing about it”. Ever the control freak, Tarantino was convinced that the jerry curl wig was wrong for Jules’ character until the actor recalled saying, “Look man, everyone in N.W.A. had a jerry curl at the time, and this is perfect for Jules for that neighbourhood”.

Thankfully, Quentin Tarantino backed down from his stance and a pop-culture icon was born, and it all came around from a sheer mistake from a PA.