Pulp Fiction hit theaters on this day in 1994. Quentin Tarantino’s twisting crime yarn featured an electric ensemble cast. The film, with its quotable, pop-culture-filled dialogue, kinetic camera work, and inventive editing, became a cultural phenomenon.
Made on a budget of under $10 million, Pulp Fiction grossed over $100 million at the box office. It also received critical acclaim, winning the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and earning seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary were jointly awarded the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.
Pulp Fiction featured a hell of a cast, including Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Harvey Keitel. John Travolta, in a career slump, was introduced to a new generation as hitman Vincent Vega. Meanwhile, the film made a superstar out of Samuel L. Jackson for his scene-stealing performance as a hitman turned prophet, Jules. However, Travolta and Jackson almost weren’t cast in the film.
How John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson Nearly Missed Out on ‘Pulp Fiction’
When penning the script for Pulp Fiction, Tarantino had specific actors in mind. The leading role of beleaguered, drug-addicted hitman Vincent Vega was originally intended for Michael Madsen. Of course, Madsen starred as Vic Vega (aka Mr. Blonde) in Tarantino’s previous effort Reservoir Dogs. It was intended that the two characters be twin brothers, as Tarantino’s films exist in a sort of shared universe. Madsen was even cast and set to shoot. However, the actor was forced to drop out due to commitments to Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp. Thus, Travolta stepped in, redefining his career in the process.
On the other hand, Tarantino wrote the part of Jules with Samuel L. Jackson in mind. The two had become acquainted on the set of True Romance, which Tarantino penned but Tony Scott directed. However, the young director still auditioned other actors for the role. According to Vanity Fair, Paul Calderon impressed Tarantino when he read for Jules, making him reconsider. Desperate to reclaim his role, Jackson flew to Los Angeles and auditioned again, winning his part.
Vincent Vega’s Cool Ride was Stolen
Pulp Fiction‘s iconic car is certainly Vincent Vega’s 1964 Chevelle Malibu. Travolta’s character even has an iconic rant about someone keying his prized position. In reality, the Chevelle was Tarantino’s personal vehicle (and the keying rant was based on true life, too). Not long after shooting wrapped, the hot rod was stolen. The car’s fate remained a mystery for almost twenty years. However, two police officers came across a scene where young individuals were dismantling an older vehicle. Out of curiosity, they ran the Vehicle Identification Number and found that it matched a car registered in Oakland, which happened to be owned by Tarantino. Unfortunately, the then-current owner didn’t realize he’d bought a hot vehicle. He has even invested nearly twenty thousand dollars in an effort to restore it.
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