Quentin Tarantino’s second outing as a writer-director, Pulp Fiction, burst onto the scene a quarter of a century ago. With its non-chronological storytelling, mid-credits soundtrack changes, and eclectic cast of morally iffy characters, Pulp Fiction shattered indie audiences’ conceptions of what a movie could be.
If Reservoir Dogs introduced Tarantino as one of the freshest voices in ‘90s filmmaking, then Pulp Fiction cemented his place as one of the most beloved directors who ever lived. The career that followed has continually proven that. It’s not easy making one of the greatest movies of all time. So, here are 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Pulp Fiction.
10 The adrenaline shot was filmed in reverse
The scene in which Vincent Vega plunges an adrenaline needle into Mia Wallace’s heart was achieved using a little movie magic. It was filmed with John Travolta yanking the needle away from Uma Thurman’s chest, and then reversed in post-production to look like he was forcefully jamming the needle into her heart.
Quentin Tarantino almost always gives himself a small role in his movies, and he wasn’t sure which role to take in Pulp Fiction. He considered playing Lance, Vincent’s drug dealer, but decided against it when he realized he’d want to be behind the camera for the overdose scene.
9 Quentin Tarantino insists he never offered Courtney Love a role
Courtney Love has claimed a number of times that Quentin Tarantino met with her and her husband Kurt Cobain about playing the roles of Lance, Vincent’s heroin dealer, and Jody, Lance’s frustrated girlfriend, in Pulp Fiction. However, Tarantino himself denies ever meeting Cobain or offering either of them a role in the film.
The role of Lance eventually went to Eric Stoltz and the role of Jody eventually went to Rosanna Arquette, who each nailed the characters. Cobain and Love probably would’ve done a good job with the roles, and as a real couple, they might’ve had more palpable on-screen chemistry.
8 The Knack stopped “My Sharona” from playing in the pawn shop basement scene
In one of Pulp Fiction’s most shocking and memorable scenes, Butch and Marsellus are tied up in the basement of a pawn shop and primed for sexual assault by Zed and Maynard (who are brothers, weirdly enough, at least in the script). They bring out a sex slave wearing a gimp suit. It’s one of the scenes that makes Pulp Fiction a hard-R movie, as opposed to just an R movie.
Originally, Quentin Tarantino wanted to use “My Sharona” by the Knack on the soundtrack, but one of the band’s members had become a born-again Christian and didn’t want their song playing over a scene of sexual violence.
7 Child actor Chandler Lindauer had to listen to Christopher Walken’s whole monologue
In order to get the right shots during the scene where Christopher Walken’s character Captain Koons explains the gold watch to a young Butch Coolidge, child actor Chandler Lindauer had to be present for the whole thing. Since he was just a kid, he didn’t understand the context of the speech or any of the bad language, so it wasn’t all that bad.
At the end of the monologue, Walken can be heard pausing. This is because he briefly forgot the next line. Since it added a degree of authenticity to the delivery, that was the take that Quentin Tarantino decided to use.
6 Creating the Jack Rabbit Slim’s set was the production’s biggest expense
Pulp Fiction was made on a tiny budget of $8 million. (Okay, $8 million isn’t a tiny amount of money, but in Hollywood terms, it is.) It was initially even smaller than that, but then Bruce Willis came on board and, as an international box office draw, he could demand a huge paycheck.
Outside of Willis’ salary, the biggest expense for the production was building the Jack Rabbit Slim’s set, which cost approximately $150,000. In the end, it was worth it, because the Jack Rabbit Slim’s sequence is one of the most iconic sequences in the movie and the unforgettable retro ‘50s set design is a large part of that.
5 An uncredited Robert Rodriguez directed some of Jimmie’s scenes
As with most of his movies, Quentin Tarantino himself appears in a supporting role in Pulp Fiction. He plays Jimmie Dimmick in the segment of the film entitled “The Bonnie Situation.” Since he was in front of the camera for so many of these scenes, which made it harder to direct, Tarantino got his close friend and fellow filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to helm some of those scenes, though he was uncredited.
The two would go on to collaborate on the double feature Grindhouse, which was comprised of Rodriguez’s zombie-infested B-movie Planet Terror, Tarantino’s carsploitation slasher Death Proof, and a bunch of fictional trailers.
4 Quentin Tarantino’s recovering heroin addict friend helped John Travolta prepare to play Vincent
John Travolta had never tried heroin, so he struggled to prepare for the role of Vincent Vega. He couldn’t tap into the emotions and habits of a heroin addict. So, Quentin Tarantino got the actor in touch with his friend, a recovering heroin addict. This friend told Travolta that if he got hammered on tequila and sat in a hot pool, he would just about scrape the feeling of being on heroin.
Travolta was excited that getting wasted on tequila and lying in a swimming pool was technically part of his work, and his wife joined him. They lined tequila shots from one end to the other of a hotel hot tub and went wild.
3 Originally, each segment would be directed by a different filmmaker
Quentin Tarantino wrote two of the three stories featured in Pulp Fiction before writing True Romance, his first finished and sold feature film screenplay, and Reservoir Dogs, the unconventional heist movie that would become his directorial debut.
After those two movies were released – the latter directed by Tarantino himself and the former directed by Tony Scott – and became big successes, Tarantino returned to these two short scripts, added a third, and shaped them into what would become Pulp Fiction. The original plan – when the movie was more of a straightforward anthology – was for three different directors to tackle each of the three segments.
2 Vincent Vega was written for Michael Madsen
John Travolta ended up being the perfect Vincent Vega, but Quentin Tarantino actually wrote the role for a different actor: Michael Madsen. However, the actor turned down the role, paving the way for Travolta’s career to make a comeback.
Madsen would go on to become one of Tarantino’s most frequent collaborators, taking pivotal roles in Kill Bill (particularly in Volume 2) and The Hateful Eight, but at the time, he’d only worked with the director on his feature debut, Reservoir Dogs. Daniel Day-Lewis reportedly wanted the role of Vincent at one point, but by that time, Tarantino had decided on Travolta.
1 The briefcase is filled with diamonds, according to the script
The contents of the briefcase is one of Pulp Fiction’s greatest mysteries, but in the script, it wasn’t so ambiguous. Quentin Tarantino and his co-writer Roger Avary wrote into the screenplay that the briefcase was filled with diamonds. However, Tarantino eventually decided to leave the briefcase’s contents unseen to let the audience decide for themselves what was in there.
There have been some wild theories, ranging from a gold-studded Elvis suit to Marsellus Wallace’s soul. Some fans have even guessed that if it’s diamonds, as is specified in the film’s original script, then they’re the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs.