Daniel Day-Lewis was almost Vincent Vega
Originally, the role of Vincent Vega was written for Michael Madsen, but two weeks prior to the start of filming, he dropped out. So the producers decided to go after Daniel Day-Lewis. He’d just won an Oscar for My Left Foot and was a hot commodity.
They lobbied for him hard, and he actively pursued the role (along with Sean Penn and Willian Hurt), but ultimately, Tarantino wanted John Travolta. He got what he wanted, and Travolta’s career stopped it’s little tailspin.
Miramax Films The film was heavily influenced by Amsterdam and weed
The majority of the script was written by Tarantino in a hotel in Amsterdam, as well as the local cafe “Betty Boop.” Hence, all the cultural references to weed in the movie including the conversation between Jules and Vincent about Dutch hash laws, how Mia loves to go to Amsterdam every so often to “chill out” for a few months, how Vincent rolls his cigarettes with a Dutch tobacco, and finally, when Butch calls Fabienne his “tulip” – the cultural symbol of the Netherlands.
The role of Lance, the drug dealer, was highly contested
According to Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain was up for the role of the drug dealer (eventually played by Eric Stolz), and she would have been the girlfriend, Jody (played by Rosanna Arquette). Tarantino denies this.
What he does admit to, however, is that he wanted Gary Oldman as Lance, based off of his performance in True Romance. When the project shifted from TriStar to Miramax, then they wanted Tarantino to play the role. He decided to play Jimmy instead, so they moved on to Steve Buscemi. He couldn’t do it, so they decided on going against type, and cast Stolz.
Tarantino got into a public fight over the film, with Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole
In 1996, Dole paid a visit to the Chaminade High school in California and gave a speech about drugs. In it, he said that the film industry glorified and romanticized drug use, and specifically called out Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino fired back with a retort that suggested if Dole had actually watched the film, he’d have noticed that there’s nothing romantic about the OD scene- it’s more disturbing than anything. He demanded an apology and never got one.
Mia Wallace almost was played by Elaine
Originally, Uma Thurman turned down the part of Mia, so Miramax offered the role to Julia Louis Dreyfuss. She turned it down due to her Seinfeld commitments, so they had to look elsewhere. Under consideration was Isabella Rossellini, Meg Ryan, Daryl Hannah, Joan Cusack and Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer almost won Tarantino over, but he decided to call Uma one more time.
We’re glad she did.
The Syringe Scene
The most memorable scene in the film is this one, and it was done in reverse. Travolta pulled the needled out of Thurman’s chest, and then the film was run backwards at a faster speed.
The Ezekiel 25:17 speech was made up
The iconic speech that Jules delivers after killing Brett, isn’t actually a bible quote verbatim. Only the last two lines loosely reference the Bible, but the rest was inspired by the 1976 Sonny Chiba film The Bodyguard.
Jules was almost played by another actor
The original actor who was considered be a shoe-in for the role was Paul Calderon, who’s been in pretty much everything. When Sam Jackson heard about the role, he flew to L.A for a last minute audition. He got hungry along the way and grabbed some fast food.
While walking in, someone said “I love your work, Mr. Fishburne,” and that set Jackson off. He barged into that audition with a burger in one hand, a drink in the other and a wild look in his eyes. That sold Tarantino.
A Hairdo that was almost a Hair-don’t
Originally, Tarantino wanted Jackson in a big afro wig, as an homage to Blaxploitation films. However, an assistant who didn’t know the difference back back with the wrong Afro wigs, as well as some Jheri Curl wigs.
Tarantino insisted on the Afro, but Jackson stepped in to remind him that the badasses in the gangs wore Jheri Curls, including N.W.A and Ice Cube. Thus, Jules’ iconic hairstyle was born.
The second coming of Jules
At the end of the film, after their brush with death in the diner, Jules tells Vincent that he was going to walk the Earth like Caine from Kung Fu. Then, Jackson makes an appearance in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 as the piano playing drifter at the church, who goes by the name Rufus.
Same guy? Who knows?
Bruce Willis wasn’t the first choice for Butch
Much like Daniel Day-Lewis, Bruce Willis was desperate to play Vincent Vega. But when Tarantino cast Travolta, he really liked Willis for the role of Butch Coolidge, but he had a problem; the role had been promised to Matt Dillon. So, when the script got sent to Dillon and he said he needed to sleep on it, Tarantino took it away from him and gave it to Willis.
The role ended up revitalizing his career too, and gave the film the star power it needed.
The crazy cab lady
One of the oddest scenes in the film is between Butch and the getaway cab driver Ezmeralda Villalobos, when she asks him what it’s like to kill a man. Tarantino had seen the actress Angela Jones in a short film, and wanted to cast her for his memorable role.
The dance had numerous inspirations
According to the rumours, the legendary dance sequence at Jack Rabbit Slim’s was copied from Fellini’s 8 1/2. Tarantino says this isn’t true; it was more inspired by Godard’s Bande a part, which has a memorable dance sequence.
On top of that, large chunks of it were also inspired by Travolta and Thurman’s own improv and creativity.
The “Bad Mother Fucker” wallet
Jules’ wallet actually belonged to Tarantino at the time of filming. The inscription on it was an homage to the 1971 film Shaft. Interestingly enough, Sam L. Jackson went on to play Shaft 6 years later.
There’s no right answer for what’s in the briefcase
There have been plenty of rumours as to what was in the case. The original inspiration for the glowing case was the 1955 film noir Kiss Me Deadly.
As for the contents, some claim it was Elvis’ gold suit from True Romance, to a copy of Spider-Man No. 1 to Marcellus Wallace’s soul. There was even a plan for the case to contain the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs. Instead, Tarantino just wanted the case to be filled with whatever the viewer wanted it to be.
Curse the film
The word “Fuck” is uttered 265 times in the film.
Sadly, Big Kahuna Burger doesn’t actually exist
This fictional chain of Hawaiian-themed fast food joins in LA was dreamed up by Tarantino. It first appeared in Reservoir Dogs in the hands of Mr. Blonde, then in this film, then in From Dusk Til Dawn, and Four Rooms & Death Proof.
It’s a shame that Tarantino never actually tried to open up an actual, real-life Big Kahuna Burger in LA. It’d make a killing.