Pulp Fiction is undoubtedly one of the best cult films ever made. As the movie still entrances younger generations, we’re sharing some of the unexpected and surprising facts behind the classic movie.
Vince and Mia’s Dance
One of the most iconic scenes in Pulp Fiction is when Vince and Mia dance at the 1950s-themed restaurant. The pair compete in a dance competition and the two, presumably, win. In true fashion for the mischievous Vince and Mia, later on, during Butch Coolidge’s storyline, a TV announcer can be overheard stating that the trophy was stolen.
Mia’s Backstory later turned into Kill Bill
We don’t learn a lot about Uma Thurman’s character, Mia Wallace. But we do learn that she starred in a TV pilot called Fox Force Five. She played a secret agent who was an expert with a knife and well-versed in the art of kung fu. Tarantino later took Mia Wallace’s onscreen character and made it into the Kill Bill movie series. He used the same template of the all-female secret agent team and turned it into the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad that was seen in both Kill Bill films.
Those $5 Shakes
One part of the movie has always left movie-goers confused. At Jack Rabbit Slims, Mia orders a $5 shake from the Buddy Holly impersonator waiter. The waiter asks her “Martin and Lewis or Amos and Andy?” The seemingly strange line is actually a question; does she want vanilla or chocolate? Martin and Lewis were white entertainers while Amos and Andy were black comedians. Another little known fact: the waiter cameo is actually played by Steve Buscemi!
More Than One Mia
Tarantino had more than one actress in mind for the iconic role of the seductive and beautiful Mia Wallace. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jennifer Aniston were both considered for the part. There was only one problem with trying to cast either of the actresses: they were already big stars on popular TV shows at the time. Neither actress had the time to film the role was acting in their respective TV shows.
Toward the end of the movie, Jules Winnfield, brilliantly played by Samuel L Jackson, states that he was to become a drifter. Apparently, his wish actually came true. Jackson actually appears in Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 2. as a piano-playing drifter. Want more thrilling facts about the movie? Read on…
Tarantino left a few key mysteries unsolved. Ever wondered what happened to the contents of Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase? Or what was the purpose of the Band-Aid located on the back of Wallace’s head? One fan theory claims that the Band-Aid covers up the spot where Wallace’s soul was snatched from his body. In reality, actor Ving Rhames had recently cut himself shaving and the Tarantino decided to keep it in the film.
A Dillon Butch
Did you know that the actor Matt Dillon was offered the role of Butch? Dillon reportedly told the producers that he would have to think about it. Dillon’s hesitation ultimately meant he lost the iconic part. “I’m sure Matt Dillon has lost many things because he takes forever to read,” casting director Ronnie Yeskel later said. Yeskel met with Bruce Willis about the role. The actor was immediately adamant he wanted the role.
A Nervous Dancer
With his spectacular performances in Grease and Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta is no stranger to the art of dance. Uma Thurman on the other hand, was actually concerned she wouldn’t be able to de the dance sequence justice. “I was so embarrassed and awkward and shy,” the actress later confessed in an interview. The dance sequence is now one of the most recognizable scenes in movie history.
Quentin Tarantino wrote the script of Pulp Fiction to certain songs, after writing them down, he gave to his music director to find. According to the music director, Karyn Rachtman, just finding the songs alone proved to be a serious challenge. Tarantino wrote them all down by hand and he, according to Rachtman “could not spell.” Tarantino also didn’t always name the songs correctly, so scoring the movie involved some detective work.
Jackson’s First Read
The role of Jules was actually written for Samuel L. Jackson, but he wasn’t automatically cast in the role. “Sam Jackson came in to read it and he sucked. He thought he had the role, so he didn’t put any effort into reading it. And he didn’t get the role,” casting director Ronnie Yeskel stated. Fortunately, they let Jackson come back in and give it another go.
Travolta’s Almost Non-Comeback
Pulp Fiction was a big comeback for actor John Travolta but he almost lost out on the memorable part. “John wasn’t supposed to do this movie, it was Michael Madsen who had the role,” casting director Ronnie Yeskel said. Due to a scheduling conflict, Madsen, who was filming another movie at the time, had to drop out before production. Travolta came in to audition for the role and eventually landed the part even though the head of Miramax wanted Daniel Day-Lewis.
The Keyed Car Unveiled
In the movie, Vincent Vega’s car is keyed by an unknown vandal. The perpetrator is never revealed in the movie but a deleted scene and Tarantino’s own testimony give us an answer. According to the director it was none other than Butch, Bruce Willis’ character.
As with most of his film’s, Tarantino made an unlikely cameo in the film. He played the role of drug-dealing Jimmy. He decided to ask for a bit of directing assistance while he was set to be in front of the camera. Tarantino had close friend and fellow filmmaker Robert Rodriguez step in to give him some direction.
Released Elsewhere First
Pulp Fiction was officially released in the United States on October 14, 1994. But before that, the movie had been seen in cities all around the world and the movie was released in a few other countries before being released in the US. The film had also been shown in a number of different venues, such as at the Cannes Film Festival in France, and film festivals in Munich, Germany, and Locarno, Switzerland.
A Pint-Sized Budget
Today we think of Pulp Fiction as this huge cult classic, but it didn’t always start out that way. The film was actually released as an independent film and was made with a surprisingly small budget. The budget for the movie was just $8.5 million – a small sum compared to the average movie production budget totaling around $50 million at the time.
The Writing of The Script
Tarantino wrote the entire first draft of Pulp Fiction in a one-room apartment in Amsterdam. He had no phone or fax machine in his room and wrote the entire draft by hand in his notebook. The final draft was over 500 pages long. But where did he get his inspiration from?
According to Tarantino, he spent his mornings strolling around the canals of Amsterdam drinking string coffee and thinking up the script. He returned to his room to write as often as possible. Some of the dialogue was influenced by his time spent in Europe, including the famous scene about what a quarter pounder is called in France.
Everyone Needs a Bit of Help
Quentin Tarantino’s rough handwritten draft needed a lot of work in order to be molded into the epic movie it eventually came to be. Tarantino enlisted the help of Linda Chen, who was actually a photographer, to type it all up. As unconventional as the choice was, she certainly got the job done.
Diary Of A Mad Man
After first going through the rough draft, with all the grammatical errors, and Tarantino’s notoriously illegible handwriting, Chen said that it was like “the diary of a mad man.” Chen also served as the behind-the-scenes photographer on the movie.
Like World War III
Hide your children because Pulp Fiction contains enough F-bombs to corrupt even the most innocent ears. In fact, the curse word is said 265 times. That may seem like just a few dozen too many but the colorful language adds a lot to the movie. Read on to find out more amazing facts you probably didn’t know about Pulp Fiction.
Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta, drives an iconic red 1964 Chevelle Malibu convertible in the film. The car actually belonged to Tarantino himself. Unbelievably, the car was actually stolen in the middle of production. Almost two decades later the convertible was found. The man who owned the car had no idea it was stolen or that it once belonged to the famous filmmaker.
Something You Might Have Missed
This is one detail you may have missed, the marquee advertising Butch’s big boxing fight reads Coolidge vs. Wilson, referring to the two former US presidents. But unfortunately, this was a mistake given that President Calvin Coolidge never ran against President Woodrow Wilson. The sign also mentions a match between Vossler and Martinez, they weren’t fighters but actually childhood friends of Tarantino’s.
Mia Overdose Scene
One of the most well-known scenes involves John Travolta’s plunging a syringe-full of adrenaline into the heart of Uma Thurman’s character. Surprisingly, that wasn’t all movie magic… A real needle was involved and everyone was on edge during the scene.
Before Honey Bunny was a gun-slinging robber, she was a rabbit. Honey Bunny is actually named after a real bunny. Tarantino’s typist/camerawoman Linda Chen had a bunny named Honey Bunny. He later decided to dedicate one of his characters to Linda’s beloved furry friend. Chen was instrumental in the success of the movie and even received a special thanks in the credits.
The Original Poster
The very first poster advertising the movie showed Uma Thurman seductively smoking a cigarette in bed. In the very first poster she was photographed smoking a pack of Lucky Strikes. Miramax neglected to obtain the copy rights to use such imagery and the poster had to be subsequently reshot. If you are one of the lucky few to still have an original poster it can fetch several hundred dollars.
The Flowers on the Wall
The song, Flowers on the Wall, was a last minute addition to the score of the film. On the day the scene was being shot (the one when Butch gets his gold watch and runs Jules over) they still hadn’t decided on a song to feature in the climatic scene. As the script called for Butch to be singing along with the radio, Tarantino didn’t have the option of changing his mind once the scene was shot. He eventually chose the Statler Brother’s Flowers on the Wall, which became of the most-loved songs on the soundtrack.
In even the most acclaimed movies there are small continuity errors, and Pulp Fiction is no exception. The scene when John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson are shot at in the apartment and the shooter misses, the bullet holes are already in the wall long before shots are fired. Even the great Tarantino is not exempt from the occasional mistake.
Another Mistake You Didn’t Notice
Another one of the film’s few flaws involves the iconic overdose scene with Vince and Mia. Before Travolta gives Uma Thurman the adrenaline shot in the chest, producers marked the spot with a red marker. Later on in the scene, the red mark inexplicably disappears.
Vincent’s Real Pulp Fiction
The book Vince can be seen reading throughout Pulp Fiction is a real novel by Peter O’Donnell featuring the action comic character “Modesty Blaise.” The comic strip and book series are based on a young woman who has many hidden talents and a dark criminal past, much like the female characters featured in the movie.
Board Game Lover
Tarantino is an avid lover of board games. That’s why they appear so frequently in his many movies. In Pulp Fiction you can find both Operation and The Game of Life in certain scenes. Tarantino even convinced John Travolta to throw an all-day board game marathon featuring games based on shows and movies in which Travolta starred, such as Grease, Welcome Back Kotter, and Saturday Night Fever.
‘Pulp fictions,’ for those readers who may not know, were cheap magazines commonly published from 1896 until the 1950s. They were known as “pulps” because of the cheap paper material they were published on, very similar to low-quality comic books. Prior to the pulps, cheap publications were also referred to as “penny dreadfuls” and “dime novels”.
Guns Aren’t What They Appear
You might have noticed that guns are a big motif throughout Pulp Fiction. But they aren’t always used in the method you would imagine. In fact, they are used in the opposite manner as intended and that’s because many of the close-range shots miraculously miss their targets.
Hit By Mistake
Tarantino made a point in the film to make guns pivotal plot instruments but not in an expected way. In one of the film’s scenes, Vince accidentally shoots Marvin in the face. Furthermore, it’s Jules’ character’s gun that prevents the violence that was about to erupt at the coffee shop.
What’s It Like To Kill A Man?
When Butch flees in a yellow taxi cab after killing his boxing opponent, the taxi driver, played by Angela Jones, actually played the same character in a previous TV show pilot. Her character was a crime cleaner who was fascinated by death. This explains why she asks Butch ‘what it’s like to kill a man.’
Husband And Wife
Tarantino is a fan of featuring unconventional romantic relationships. Marsellus and Mia Wallace never speak to each other or have any face-to-face interactions on-screen, despite being husband and wife.
Quentin Tarantino hesitated over playing Jimmy or Lance. He eventually chose Jimmy as he was adamant he wanted to be behind the camera during Mia’s climatic overdose scene.
Biblical Passage Made Up
Jules’ famous and oft-quoted Bible passage was in fact made up by Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson. Only the final two lines feature in Ezequiel 25:17, while the rest of the lines are the genius work of the actor and director.
In the harrowing scene where Marsellus is attacked and violated in the basement of the pawn shop, there is a song playing in the background called Comanche by “The Revels.” Tarantino had originally wanted to have the song My Sharona by “The Knack” playing in the background for more effect. Unfortunately, not all of the band members wanted their song in the particularly violent scene, due to religious reasons. So, Tarantino was forced to find an alternative.