As part of AFI’s Night at the Movies, Samuel L. Jackson was on hand to introduce and present a screening of writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 cult classic, Pulp Fiction. Since I was only about 10 when the movie originally came out, I had never seen it on the big screen before; hard to believe it’s been almost 20 years. While I cut my teeth into Tarantino’s world with a viewing of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction is easily my most-watched of his movies. Being able to see it in a real theater with an audience full of fans who appreciate and anticipate every scene was just a pure joy. Not to mention hearing some behind-the-scenes details about the movie’s production from Jackson himself! Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
- Jackson originally tried out for Mr. Orange in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs but didn’t get the part. He later congratulated Tarantino on the success of the film, at which point the writer/director asked Jackson how he liked the guy that played the part he auditioned for (Tim Roth). Tarantino then told Jackson he had written a part in his next movie especially for him.
- When he first got the script for Pulp Fiction, he read it twice saying, “If they let us film everything in this script, this movie is gonna be killer!”
- While Jackson was busy filming Fresh, he heard that another actor was auditioning for the role Tarantino had written specifically for him. He flew out to L.A., learning his lines on the plane and channeling his anger into the performance. When he arrived, the filmmakers were out to lunch discussing how they were going to tell Jackson that the other guy was getting the part. When they came back, they asked Jackson if he’d like to be introduced to the other actor. He said, “That won’t be necessary, I’m a fan of Mr. Fishburne’s work.” Needless to say, Jackson’s powerful audition landed him the role of Jules in Pulp Fiction.
- As Jackson says, this was his “only bit of drama on the picture. Everything else was peaches and cream.”
- Jackson and John Travolta filmed the diner scene first and then shot the rest of their scenes around the other actors’ schedules.
- There were two scenes Jackson wishes would have been in the final cut. The first was a sequence in the diner in which Jules closes his eyes, then shoots Ringo and Yolanda in the diner, but then opens his eyes to reveal that it was just a daydream; the robbers are perfectly fine. Jackson wanted to show the audience what the old Jules would have done versus what the new Jules did.
- The other change was the scene in the car with Jules, Vincent Vega and Marvin (Phil LeMarr). In the normal cut, Vega shoots Marvin’s head clean off. In the script, it called for him to shoot Marvin in the throat first. Then, as Jackson put it, “Marvin’s in the back seat chokin’ on a bullet while we’re up front arguing over what to do about it. Then, Vincent shoots him in the head anyway. I liked to think that Vincent meant to do it anyway because he was pissed that Marvin didn’t tell us about the other shooter in the bathroom.”
- Jackson said that, while he doesn’t understand how the coolness of Jules has been transferred onto him over the years, he’s “cool with that.”
A big thanks to AFI for hosting this event!