The creative partnership between Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest actor-director combinations in recent memory. The brilliance of their artistic connection is evident in many of Tarantino’s films, ranging from their first collaboration in Pulp Fiction to subsequent works like Jackie Brown and Django Unchained.
While it was Pulp Fiction that marked the beginning of their journey together, Jackson had actually auditioned for Tarantino’s directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. He didn’t know the aspiring filmmaker at the time, just like most other people, but that’s actually how he met Quentin Tarantino for the first time in his life.
In an interview, Jackson recalled how it all went down and expressed his disappointment: “I actually went in to audition and I read with Quentin and Lawrence Bender, the producer, not knowing who they were. I just knew that they were really terrible actors and I left there thinking ‘I’m gonna get this job, they sucked!’ and I didn’t.”
He also provided further details about their encounter following the failed audition: “For some reason that year, I was at Sundance and I went to the first screening of Reservoir Dogs. After it was over, I went up to Quentin to tell him how much I liked it and realised ‘Oh, you’re that dude!’ He’s like, ‘How did you like the guy who got your part?'”.
When Jackson asked whether the director still remembered him, Tarantino enthusiastically responded and told him that his new project would revolve around the actor. Jackson said: “[Tarantino told me] ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m writing something right now for you.’ Two weeks later I got the Pulp Fiction script.”
The script for Pulp Fiction would become a major landmark in the evolution of cinematic narrative, featuring a delightfully irreverent postmodern narrative structure which Tarantino fashioned after a novel: “In a novel, you can start in the middle of the story. They’re doing something and it’s moving in the forward momentum…
“And now it comes to Chapter three and Chapter three happened two years before. 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.”
When Jackson was asked about his professional relationship with Tarantino, he claimed that their partnership was so effective because it was amazingly organic. 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.”