There exists only one true calendar system: there's before you see Pulp Fiction, and then there's after. Most people who've watched it will tell you it's a must-see film. Considered one of Tarantino's best films (if not the best) among a series of classic movies, Pulp Fiction changed Hollywood forever.
Not only did it jumpstart and revive stars' careers, but it inspired films that came after it. Released in 1994, the film has an ensemble cast and a narrative that doesn't rely on a conventional timeline. The story jumps around all over the place. Plus, it's the kind of film filled with drama, laughs and lots of other things mixed in that somehow works.
As with any cult film, viewers have obsessed over every frame of this movie since it came out. Tarantino is the kind of director that inserts a lot of references for fans, and they're certainly meant to be able to pick up on and explore.
But what about behind the scenes? While the film itself is legendary, there's just as much intrigue that happened off camera surrounding this film. We've got the low-down on some of the most fascinating and illuminating details fans of this classic won't believe.
18 John Travolta Was Actually The One Who Came Up With The Iconic Dance Between Vincent And Mia
So that dance sequence in Jack Rabbit Slim's between Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace was memorable and iconic. But could viewers have guessed it was straightforward and simple to shoot? As per The Daily Beast, they improvised the dance practically on the spot. As a matter of fact, Travolta came up with most of the dance moves. It all makes sense considering his role in the disco movie Saturday Night Fever.
Travolta sheds some insight saying, "I'd actually told Quentin about the dances I grew up with. The Twist is what he wanted, but I said, 'There were other fun dances from that era! The Spin, The Batman, The Hitchhiker. You can expand this, and don't have to include just The Twist.'"
Travolta did his thing, Tarantino loved it, and the rest — as they say — is history.
The Daily Beast even continues Travolta's quote, in which he says it only took a part of the day to shoot. It sounds like it took no time for one of the best scenes to come together. Not only is it one of the movie's best scenes, but one of the best scenes in Hollywood history. Even Tarantino admits, as per The Daily Beast, that he took some inspiration from French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard for having a dance scene in the middle of his movie.
17 Ezekiel 25:17 — Doesn't Really Exist
Anyone who's seen the movie loves and knows Jules. Played by Samuel L. Jackson, he's got some of the best parts in the movie. Two of those scenes, in fact, involve one of his famous speeches. He says it twice in the film but in two very different contexts. His speech is a recitation of a verse in The Bible.
But according to Uproxx, it's not really an actual Bible passage. Although heavily taken from Ezekiel 25:17 — which is the exact verse Jules references—the best bit about the righteous man and the shepherd aren't from there. In fact, Tarantino and Jackson inserted this part according to Uproxx.
While some might call it sacrilegious, we can't help but love what they did with this passage. Or maybe it's just the way Jackson delivers his lines? Either way, the passage just sounds so cool coming from Jules.
There's a lot of speculation about what inspired Tarantino in the first place. Uproxx speculates it may have been From Dusk Til Dawn when an early version of the script had it. Another theory is the 1976 movie Karate Kiba. Although it's not exactly clear, we don't really care. It's one of our favorite scenes in the whole movie.
16 John Travolta Took A Huge Pay Cut, But It Benefited Him In The End
Let it be a lesson to aspiring actors and creative types that the big money doesn't come till later. Or, in the case of John Travolta, you've gotta be willing to take a real paycheck for where you're at in your career.
Since his career was on the fritz and in desperate need of an upgrade, the filmmakers offered him only $150,000 according to TomorroWoman. Wisely, Travolta accepted. Why was it wise? The film went on as a huge hit.
With his career resuscitated, Travolta would go on to make another fortune for himself as a popular actor.
What makes Travolta's meager paycheck all the more astounding is the fact that the film had an $8 million budget, as Lifebru reports. Furthermore, Lifebru states that they used $5 million of it to pay for actors only.
Even crazier, with the film being such a hit, it went on to make $210 million at the box office. That's really impressive for such a small budget. While Travolta may not have reaped the benefits initially, his decision to take a cut early on paid off greatly later on. Travolta is still a star today and busy acting in movies all with the help of Pulp Fiction.
15 Robert Rodriguez Shot All The Scenes Tarantino Was In But Never Got Any Credit
While Tarantino probably wishes he could act in front of the camera while directing behind the camera at the same time, the truth is it's impossible. But he really likes to have roles in his movies. So, to remedy this, he entrusted his best buddy Robert Rodriguez to sit behind the camera whenever he's acting in a scene, as Lifebru reports. The amazing part is, according to Lifebru, Rodriguez isn't even in the film's credits. That's a true mark of friendship when someone is willing to help out another without even getting a mention for it.
Then again, it's only fair considering the two have helped each other over time. Even Tarantino had a small role in Desperado, one of Rodriguez's films. It came out a year after Pulp Fiction. Tarantino's role isn't the flashiest though. His character dies in the loo. Sounds an awful lot like Vincent Vega's end in Pulp Fiction to us. We don't doubt these two directors have fun referencing each other and collaborating together. Eventually, these fellow friends and directors would team up to produce Death Proof in 2007 as per IMDB, which is a homage to all their favorite grindhouse movies they watched growing up.
14 Harvey Weinstein Almost Prevented John Travolta Getting The Part Of Vincent, He Wanted Daniel Day-Lewis Instead
It's hard for people to imagine Pulp Fiction without their favorite stars. Could we really see anyone else as Vincent Vega, after all? As everyone knows, the role helped revive John Travolta's fledgling career at the time. But apparently, there were roadblocks preventing Travolta from being a shoe-in. Who does everyone have to blame? Who else, but producer Harvey Weinstein? He wanted Daniel Day-Lewis or Bruce Willis in the role instead, according to Screencrush. While Bruce Willis did end up playing a different role as the boxer Butch, Day-Lewis didn't get the part.
While we think Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the greatest actors of all time who's won three Best Actor Oscars, we just can't see him in the role — not when we've experienced how iconic and fitting John Travolta is for the part of Vega!
Screencrush reports that Weinstein thought he could get Day-Lewis after his Oscar-winning turn in My Left Foot. Fortunately, Tarantino held his ground on Travolta, who we all know was best for the part. This is just another reason we're convinced Tarantino is the master who knows what he's doing. Otherwise, Day-Lewis would've drunk up all of Mia Wallace's milkshake in the Jack Rabbit Slim's scene.
13 There Was An Easter Egg On The Marquee At The Boxing Match Most Fans Didn't Notice
Blink, and you may have missed the marquee that displays names of boxers fighting before Butch's own fight. Underneath "Battle of the Titans" at the top, there are two other matches listed. The biggest one at the bottom should be pretty easy, as Lifebru points out it's a reference to the former United States Presidents Coolidge and Wilson.
The other one is less obvious. According to Movieseum, it's a reference to two coworkers Tarantino knew at the video store. As most people know, Tarantino worked at a local video rental store before making it big in Hollywood. Movieseum has their names listed as Russel Vossler and Jerry Martinez. It's hilarious that Tarantino would include their names on this marquee, having something of his own history inserted in the movie.
Apparently, Movieseum goes on to say that Vossler and Martinez even went on to work with Tarantino on some of his movies. Vossler made a cameo appearance in the Tarantino-written Four Rooms, while Martinez served as a graphic designer on Tarantino's directed Kill Bill films.
Even if it's an inside joke to include their names on the marquee, it's a humorous reference. It's Tarantino showing that above all, he's making these films for himself.
12 The Red Malibu Mia And Vincent Drove In Was Actually Tarantino's Car, But It Got Stolen
Remember that slick red 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu that Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace roll up in, to Jack Rabbit Slim's? That same car actually belonged to Tarantino at the time the film was in production, as per Uproxx. Unfortunately, while Tarantino worked on the film, someone stole the car. Although the car lived on in celluloid, the actual Chevelle Malibu wouldn't reappear until much later.
Years later in 2013, Uproxx reports that a policeman found the car. Apparently, the car had come into possession by two teenagers. Not only that, but they were stripping it for parts. The policeman had them immediately arrested. After the cop did some digging, he found out that someone had modified the car's VIN. That confirmed the cop's suspicions that someone stole it.
Even the owners of the car at the time didn't have a clue the story behind it, or that it had once belonged to Tarantino.
By this point, Tarantino probably had plenty of cars. But a 1964 Chevelle Malibu is irreplaceable, especially when one used in such a classic film. It just goes to show that there's always hope in lost things turning up again. We bet Tarantino never expected to hear about that car again.
11 The Wallet Jules Has, Has A Lot More Meaning To It
As fans know, the character Jules played by Samuel L. Jackson owns a particular wallet. This wallet, which says "Bad Mother" you-know-what on it, plays a part in the last scene of the movie. According to Lifebru, it's a reference from the movie Shaft (for those who are younger than 40). It's ironic when one peruses Jackson's IMDB to find out he would star in a remake of that film in 2000.
Anyway, returning back to the wallet (just Ringo returned it to Jules in the movie), it really belonged to Tarantino, as per Lifebru. While we think Tarantino is a cool guy himself, we're a little surprised he'd carry this around. Then again, he's never been one to shy away in his movies or screenplays.
We think it's pretty smart that Tarantino inserted this wallet into the movie. It's not only funny but believable that he'd own a wallet like this. Plus, it's just another movie reference. Tarantino loves to make pop culture or movie references in his own films. It's one of his signature attributes. We think this wallet fulfils many of Tarantino's criteria in his movies. The fact that it's his own only adds an extra layer of insight.
10 Everyone in Hollywood Wanted To Be Mia Wallace
During the casting process, Mia Wallace was a sought-after role. Actresses all over Hollywood wanted to play Mia in Pulp Fiction. When one considers all the actresses at one time up for the role, it's hard to imagine how different the film would've been.
According to Flavorwire, Meg Ryan and Isabella Rossellini both did auditions for the part, the latter winning the praise of Ronnie Yeskel, the film's casting director.
Uproxx reports a whole bunch of other actresses were considered at the time. Those included Daryl Hannah, Joan Cusack, Michelle Pfeiffer and even Julia Louis-Dreyfus. According to Louis-Dreyfus's agent, her scheduling conflicts with Seinfeld prevented her from committing though.
Of course, we all know who really played Mia Wallace. There's only one actress in the world who could've done it, and that's Uma Thurman. But Flavorwire states that Tarantino wasn't even considering Thurman for the role initially. Apparently, it was all Thurman's agent who set up the meeting with Tarantino. It's crazy to think about how different the movie would've been if Thurman hadn't been cast. But then Mia Wallace would've just told us not to "be a square."
9 Tarantino Wanted Jules To Have A Giant Afro
Readers should brace themselves before reading this entry. It contains an invaluable life lesson that might just blow your mind. But first, the background. Apparently — as reported by the fine folks over at Cinema Blend — Tarantino originally envisioned Jules with a giant afro.
The reason behind it? His love for the genre of blaxploitation movies, as Cinema Blend points out. But when Tarantino sent what Jackson himself said was a "young, white P.A. over to South Central to buy an Afro wig," the actor reports she came back with something else instead. No one could've imagined that it would be so much better though.
"She bought a Jheri curl wig, think it's an Afro wig," said Jackson by way of Cinema Blend. We all know the look by now and would struggle to even picture an actual fro on Jules at this point. It's as if even errors like this made the movie better in the end. That's the life lesson we have for you today folks: don't be critical of screw-ups in the beginning because you just might find it helps you in the long wrong. We're so glad that P.A. got it wrong and grabbed a Jheri curl wig instead. It's the little things.
8 The Famous Adrenaline Shot Scene Was All Done With "Movie Magic"
Anyone who's ever seen Pulp Fiction has their favorite scene. The movie is chock-full of incredible parts. There's really no wrong answer. That's why so many people love Pulp Fiction. It's got likable characters and plenty of memorable parts. One of the scenes early on that shocks people out of their seats is when Mia Wallace overindulges. Vincent is panicking. His only job was to show the boss's wife a good time. If anything happens to her on his watch, he's screwed. Reunited with Lance — the dealer — they prepare an adrenaline shot to save her.
What unfolds next is one of the most on-the-edge-of-your-seat scenes in the entire movie, but most viewers don't know about the cinematic trickery involved to make this scene possible!
Instead of actually puncturing a needle into Mia Wallace, Travolta actually pulls the needle back instead. Then, through the magic of editing, Tarantino and the filmmakers reversed the shot to make it look like it was going the other way, which comes by way of The NY Post. It's so simple; viewers are kicking themselves for not thinking of it before. In the end, Tarantino makes movie magic look so simple.
7 Real Life Husband And Wife Played In The Film
One of the funniest and most unexpected parts of the movie is when Harvey Keitel shows up. Keitel plays Winston Wolfe, which is a character everyone wants to be like. He pretty much shows up when the characters are in a dire situation, cleans up the situation in a matter of hours and makes it look effortless. He's essentially a smooth mover and shaker. He also doesn't get along with Vincent, and they both have some pretty funny back-and-forth banter.
After Wolfe shows up to save the day, he drops the main characters off at a junkyard. In that scene, the daughter of the junkyard owner appears and has a brief scene parting ways with our characters. She's played by Julia Sweeney of Saturday Night Life fame.
What's crazy is that she and the Gimp, played by Stephen Hibbert, were husband and wife in real life according to Uproxx. The couple isn't together anymore, but it's still quite a connection. Uproxx even reports that Hibbert went on to write for TV shows Mad TV and Boy Meets World. We already knew the film was full of talented stars. But now we know even the minor characters were celebs.
6 A Piece Of Junk Car Every Tarantino Fan Will Want
In Pulp Fiction, the boxer named Butch doesn't have the best ride. In fact, compared to Vincent's Chevelle Malibu, it's pretty pathetic. Butch, played by Bruce Willis, drives a white 1980 Honda Civic SL, as per Best Movie Cars. It's small, functional and later gets him into a lot of trouble when he tries to run over Marsellus Wallace with it. Despite how lame Butch's car is though, Tarantino fans will hold a special place in their hearts for this car.
For those fans with keen eyes, according to Best Movie Cars, this piece o' junk actually shows up in Tarantino's other films, too!
The same exact Honda Civic is the same exact car flight attendant Jackie owns in Jackie Brown. Best Movie Cars also reports that the same car is seen in Kill Bill: Volume 2. It shows up in the parking lot of the strip club where Budd works.
Unlike Tarantino's own Chevelle Malibu, no reports exist indicating that the Honda Civic was ever stolen. Who would ever try to take it, after all? Now that the word is out though, maybe there'd be some sudden interest in the old car. We think this is a great little personal Easter egg Tarantino has inserted into his movies.
5 The Knack's “My Sharona” Song Didn't Make The Cut
There's one scene in the movie that's hard for some to watch. It's when Butch and Marsellus Wallace find themselves in a precarious situation. As a result, Wallace finds himself on the receiving end of something he doesn't want to happen to him. The scene is only amplified though by Tarantino's song selection. During this part, the song "Comanche" plays in the background, but it wasn't always his first choice.
According to Flavorwire, the popular hit song "My Sharona" by The Knack was his first choice. According to the site, he decided to go in a different direction after the song played in Reality Bites. There appear to be differing theories, though, on this front.
While Lifebru affirms that Tarantino had hoped to use "My Sharona" originally, they have a different reason why the song didn't make the final cut. According to Lifebru, it's because one of The Knack's band members had converted to Christianity.
Apparently, they didn't want their music played over the film's torture scene. It sounds like there are two prevailing ideas on why Tarantino didn't go with "My Sharona." This only seems to add more to the legend that is Pulp Fiction. Whatever the case may be, the final song Tarantino chose works just fine.
4 There Is No 'Pulp Fiction' Without Travolta
As another entry on this list speculated regarding Uma Thurman, can't fans really imagine Pulp Fiction without John Travolta? He embodies the character completely. We believe this character whenever he's on screen. But according to Ronnie Yeskel, as reported by Flavorwire to be the casting director for the film, John Travolta shouldn't have been in the movie.
According to her, Michael Madsen was in for the role. For those who need help, Madsen is a recurring actor in Tarantino's film.
He played Budd in Kill Bill and Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs where he tortures a cop. On a side note, Flavorwire notes that Vic Vega is supposed to be the brother of Vincent Vega's.
But when Michael Madsen decided to do Wyatt Earp instead, that left one of the film's biggest roles vacant. That's when John Travolta stepped in to save the day. Look, if we are being totally honest, who's to say we wouldn't still love the movie if someone else was Vincent Vega? Michael Madsen sure is a great actor and could've pulled it off. But still, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role except for Travolta. Only he could've done that dance scene, after all.
3 There Is No 'Pulp Fiction' Without Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is the epitome of his roles in Pulp Fiction. Jules is practically a role he was born to play. Initially, Jackson auditioned for Reservoir Dogs, which is Tarantino's debut feature according to Lifebru.
For those who haven't seen it, there's a character who coaches Mr. Orange on how to go undercover. He's a humorous character in a very creative scene. The original actor did a fine job. But even though Jackson didn't get the part in Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino liked him enough to write a part solely for him in his next film.
It's a shame then that when it came time to cast Pulp Fiction, they made a simple mistake.
According to Cinema Blend, Jackson mentioned that when he originally waltzed in for the audition, someone in the front desk mistook him for Laurence Fishburne — which apparently irked Jackson to the point of steaming throughout his audition!
As fans can imagine, his anger was perfect for the role. While we find it hard to believe they would mix Jackson up with Fishburne, Cinema Blend speculates it was intentional to rile Jackson up for his audition. It's hard to separate fact from fiction here, but one thing we do know for sure: Jackson probably rocked that audition.
2 This Will Aid Your Theories About Marsellus Wallace’s Band-Aid
There are a couple of mysteries planted throughout the movie that have fans guessing the meaning behind them even to this day. Aside from the briefcase and what its contents are, fans continue to debate the meaning behind Marsellus Wallace's Band-aid. For those few unaware folks who haven't seen the movie yet, Wallace (played by Ving Rhames) has a Band-aid on the back of his neck. There are prominent close-ups throughout the movie showing the bandage and people wonder what it's all about. It's disappointing though.
According to Lifebru, the Band-aid is meant to cover a cut Rhames got while shaving. The site goes on to say that Tarantino loved it, so they kept it in there. Bustle has a slightly different take, saying that Rhames has a scar on his neck that he wanted to cover up.
In the end, Tarantino hadn't originally planned on this from a creative standpoint. Therefore, there's not as much intentional meaning behind it as people have speculated. But fans should appreciate the fact that it's in there in the first place. Plus, Tarantino decided to keep it in there; so it's kind of his idea. This is an iconic part of the film that we can't imagine it without.
1 Bob Dole Spoke Out On His Huge Dislike Of The Film
American Politician Bob Dole wasn't a big fan of the movie when it first came out. In fact, we highly doubt he's a fan today. According to The New York Times, Dole thought the film praised substance use. The film is certainly full of it, that's for sure. But we can't really agree with a simplistic statement like Dole's. After all, films are fiction at the end of the day. For some people, this is their lifestyle. It's merely portraying what that life is like. We don't think that necessarily condones it.
Anyway, back to Mr. Dole's statements: The Times notes that he thought it encouraged "the romance of" a certain substance. Hey, we don't like them either, on that we can agree with him. Substance us definitely ruins lives, but we think fiction can portray those things without necessarily condoning it.
If anything, what Pulp Fiction explores is how much this practice can wreck a life.
It's more like a cautionary tale than it is promoting substances. Either way, Dole has a right to his opinions like anyone else. That's what makes our country beautiful, isn't it? We have to hand it to Dole for not being afraid to take on Hollywood.
References: The Daily Beast, Uproxx, TomorroWoman, Lifebru, Lifebru, Screencrush, Movieseum, Lifebru, Lifebru, IMDB, Flavorwire, Cinema Blend, NY Post, Best Movie Cars, Flavorwire, Lifebru, NY Times, Flavorwire, Lifebru, Cinema Blend, Lifebru, Bustle