Quentin Tarantino wrote the screenplay for "Pulp Fiction" in school notebooks, which he handed over to his typist and sounding board Linda Chen, who also worked with Robert Towne, the celebrated screenwriter best known for "Chinatown."
The contents of the stolen briefcase weren't always intended to be so mysterious. An early plan was to fill it with diamonds (some say from the heist in "Reservoir Dogs"), but Tarantino decided to leave this MacGuffin to the moviegoer's imagination. The briefcase actually contained nothing more than a pair of batteries and a warm yellow lightbulb.
Wild Internet theories maintain that the Band-Aid on the neck of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) has something to do with the devil having stolen his soul. There's a simpler explanation: The actor cut himself while shaving his head.
A production assistant bought the Jheri-curl wig worn by Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) by mistake: Tarantino had asked for an afro. But Jackson saw this wig — later covered with glistening bits of Marvin's brain — as perfectly suited to his character. "All the gangbangers had Jheri," he explained to Vanity Fair.
The director thought about casting James Gandolfini as Vincent Vega, the role that finally went to John Travolta. Gandolfini is shown here in "True Romance," the 1993 film written by Tarantino in which he played a vicious hitman named Virgil.
To imagine Vincent's mindset when the character was high on heroin, Travolta took a former junkie's advice and drank copious amounts of tequila, then lay back in a hotel hot tub.
Although it's never apparent in the movie, Uma Thurman felt extremely apprehensive about the dance scene because, as she told Vanity Fair, "I was so awkward and embarrassed and shy." She was particularly intimidated by the idea of matching moves with Travolta, the star of "Saturday Night Fever," who'd won a Twist contest when he was eight years old.
The disgusting white stuff coming out of Thurman's mouth (seconds after the scene shown here) when her character, Mia Wallace, overdoses on heroin was Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup.
Tarantino considered giving himself the role of Lance, the heroin dealer played by Eric Stoltz, but he wanted to stay behind the camera for the scene in Lance's living room where Vincent plunges an adrenaline-filled syringe into Mia's chest. (Travolta actually pulled the syringe outward, and the film was run in reverse.)
Jimmie, the role Tarantino did play, was supposed to go to Steve Buscemi, who turned it down because of a scheduling conflict. He did a cameo as a waiter at Jack Rabbit Slim's instead.
According to the director, it was Butch (Bruce Willis) who keyed Vincent's car. His motivation: Vincent had dissed him in Marsellus' bar.
Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the city where Butch's great-grandfather bought the gold wristwatch that Captain Coons (Christopher Walken) hid in his ass for two years to avoid having the boy's birthright stolen by guards in a POW camp in North Vietnam.
Back in 1994, Julia Sweeney — who had a small part as the Wolf's girlfriend Raquel, the belle of Monster Joe's junkyard — was married to Stephen Hibbert, who played the Gimp.
It's not clear in the movie, but it is in the original screenplay: Zed and Maynard are brothers.
The weapons that Butch considers before heading back into the basement to confront Zed and Maynard were inspired by some of Tarantino's favorite movies. Butch weighs the idea of arming himself with a bat (as in "Walking Tall") or chainsaw ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), but settles on a sword like the ones in "Seven Samurai."
Linda Kaye, who played the innocent bystander shot by Marsellus Wallace after Butch runs him down with his Honda, also appeared in "Reservoir Dogs" — in the scene shown here — as the innocent bystander dragged out of her car by Mr. Pink.
Fruit Brute cereal, which Lance eats while watching TV just before Vincent shows up on his front lawn with the "ODing bitch," also appears in both of Tarantino's first two movies. (The director reportedly loved that brand of cereal when he was a kid.) So does Big Kahuna, the fictional brand of both Brett's breakfast burger and the soda savored by Mr. Blonde, also known as Vincent's brother Vic.
Two of Tarantino's personal possessions show up in "Pulp Fiction" — his red '64 Chevelle Malibu (which was stolen during production and recovered in Oakland 19 years later!) and his "Shaft"-inspired wallet (subsequently licensed for retail sales).
Most of Jules's recitation of Ezekiel 25:17 doesn't appear in the Bible. But Vincent's sage comment on the punishment meted out to Tony Rocky Horror after he allegedly gave Mia Wallace a foot massage ("You play with matches, you get burned") does, in a slightly different form.
If the movie's scenes were reassembled in chronological order, Bruce Willis would have the last line: "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
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