Samuel L. Jackson has starred in some of the most iconic films in recent years but none of them have surpassed the cultural significance or the acting work of his role in the Quentin Tarantino masterpiece Pulp Fiction. Jackson’s rendition of Jules Winnfield, a Bible-quoting hitman with a dangerous affinity for fast food, immortalised him in the mainstream consciousness.
Jackson knew Tarantino before the director started making Pulp Fiction. In fact, the actor had auditioned for Tarantino’s directorial debut Reservoir Dogs but failed to impress the filmmaker who was fixated on making a killer first film which he eventually did. During the screening of Reservoir Dogs at the Sundance Film Festival, Tarantino told Jackson that he was writing something specifically for him.
The actor almost botched the audition for Pulp Fiction as well because he thought it was a reading until Harvey Weinstein convinced Jackson to give it another shot. The second time around, he blew Tarantino’s mind with a fantastic enactment of the iconic final diner scene. The producers who were there during the audition confirmed that Jackson managed to steal the role with that one performance.
In an interview, Tarantino explained how Jackson managed to became a central driving force in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino commented: “I knew he gave off an incredible feeling of power and that, if given the possibility, he could express this Richard III side of himself that he has in the film.” According to the director, Jackson had the uncanny ability to dominate a scene by moving people around gracefully like chess pieces which paid off in Pulp Fiction.
Thanks to their brilliant initial collaboration, Jackson and Tarantino have gone on to work together multiple times after that in projects like Jackie Brown and Django Unchained. Tarantino claimed that he had always been a fan of Jackson’s work before he had acted in Pulp Fiction, even though the director had turned him down for a role in Reservoir Dogs.
Jackson has also maintained that Tarantino is one of his favourite filmmakers to work with because they understand each other’s methods of artistic operations really well. The actor said: “There’s just something very natural in our connection in terms of his art and my talent that mesh in a beautiful and wonderful and creative, joyous, ecstatic, orgasmic kinda way.”