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Pulp Fiction Trivia

From The Quentin Tarantino Archives

Trivia

  • (at around 1h) The shot of Vincent plunging the syringe into Mia's chest was filmed by having John Travolta pull the needle out, then running the film backwards.
  • In real life, Vincent Vega's 1964 Chevelle Malibu convertible belongs to Quentin Tarantino and was stolen during the production of the film. In 2013, a police officer saw two kids stripping an older car. He arrested them and when researching the vehicle found the VIN number had been altered. It turns out that it was the car stolen from Quentin Tarantino. The owner had recently purchased it and had no idea it was stolen.
  • Samuel L. Jackson auditioned for the part of the guy who trains Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs (1992), but it went to Randy Brooks. Tarantino enjoyed Jackson's work so much that he wrote the part of Jules specifically for him.
  • (at around 37 mins) In the diner when Mia orders her $5 shake, "Buddy Holly" (the waiter, Steve Buscemi) asks her if she wants it "Martin and Lewis or Amos and Andy?" He is referring to two comedy duos - Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, two white men; The Amos 'n Andy Show (1951), two black men. Basically, he is asking her if she wants a vanilla shake or a chocolate shake. She has vanilla.
  • Uma Thurman originally turned down the role of Mia Wallace. Quentin Tarantino was so desperate to have her as Mia, he ended up reading her the script over the phone, finally convincing her to take on the role.
  • The movie cost $8 million to make, $5 million of which went to pay the actors' salaries.
  • The passage from the Bible that Jules has memorized was mostly made up by Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson. The only part that's similar to what the Bible says is the part where he says, "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee." However, the parts about the righteous man and the shepherd are not real.
  • Quentin Tarantino hesitated over the choice between the character he was going to play: Jimmie or Lance. He ended up choosing Jimmie's role because he wanted to be behind the camera in Mia's overdose scene.
  • The word "fuck" is used 265 times.
  • Bruce Willis worked on the film for only 18 days.
  • In an interview with James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), John Travolta went into details of the many obstacles of tackling his role as Vincent Vega. The most challenging being that of how he was going to show the essence of his character as that of a heroin addict. Never using the drug himself, director Quentin Tarantino had Travolta research his character's addiction by speaking to a recovering heroin addict that he (Quentin) knew personally. Travolta asked Tarantino's friend to tell him how could he know what it felt like to be on heroin (without actually using it of course). Tarantino's friend explained "If you want to get the 'bottom envelope' feeling of that, get plastered on Tequila, and lie down in a hot pool. Then you will have barely touched the feeling of what it might be like to be on heroin." John Travolta then explained that he was ecstatic to tell his wife that he was "told" in order to research aspects of his upcoming roles' character, he had to get plastered on Tequila and lie in a hot pool. He stated she happily joined him at the hotel hot tub which had shots of Tequila lined from end to end on the railings to assist him in his "research".
  • Quentin Tarantino was quoted as saying that Butch is responsible for keying Vincent's car.
  • Jules's character was originally written to have a gigantic afro, but a crewmember obtained a variety of afro wigs and one jheri curl wig. Quentin Tarantino had never thought about a jheri curl wig, but Samuel L. Jackson tried it on, Tarantino liked it, and it was kept.
  • Jules' "Bad Mother Fucker" wallet actually belongs to Quentin Tarantino. The inscription on the wallet is a reference to the theme song of Shaft (1971). Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Jules, would later go on to play Shaft in the 2000 remake, Shaft (2000).
  • Uma Thurman did not actually like the song that was played in the Jack Rabbit Slim's Twist Contest (Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell"), and told Quentin Tarantino about this, saying it just didn't sound right, Tarantino simply replied "Trust me, it's perfect."
  • Quentin Tarantino wrote "The Wolf" character specifically for Harvey Keitel
  • Speculation abounds as to the nature of the mysterious glowing contents of the case (which Tarantino said was simply a MacGuffin plot device): The most persistent theory is that it is Marcellus Wallace's soul. The story goes that when the Devil takes a person's soul, it is removed through the back of the head. When we see the back of Marcellus's head he has a Band-Aid covering the precise spot indicated by tradition for soul removal. Perhaps Marcellus sold his soul to the devil which would also explain why the combination to open the briefcase is 666.
  • Could it be Elvis's gold suit, seen worn by Val Kilmer (as Elvis) in True Romance (1993)?
  • Quentin Tarantino has said that the band-aid on the back of Marsellus Wallace's neck had nothing to do with an allusion to the Devil stealing Marsellus's soul... but that the actor Ving Rhames had a scar on the back of his neck he wanted to cover up.
  • According to Roger Avary, who co-wrote the script with Quentin Tarantino, the original plan was to have the briefcase contain diamonds (urban legend has it that they were the diamonds from Resevoir Dogs). This seemed neither exciting nor original, so Avary and Tarantino decided to have the briefcase's contents never appear on screen; this way each film-goer could mentally "fill in the blank" with whatever struck his or her imagination as best fitting the description "so beautiful". The orange light bulb (projecting shimmering light onto the actors' faces) was a last-minute decision and added a completely unintended fantastic element.
  • In a radio interview with Howard Stern in late 2003, Quentin Tarantino was asked by a caller the contents of the briefcase, and he answered, "It's whatever the viewer wants it to be."
  • Selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
  • Towards the end of the film Jules says he wants to retire and become a drifter. In Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Samuel L. Jackson turns up as Rufus, a piano playing drifter.
  • Harvey Keitel convinced his friend Bruce Willis to take part in the film, knowing that Willis had been a big fan of Reservoir Dogs (1992).
  • The cab driver, Esmeralda Villalobos (Angela Jones) appeared in a 30-minute short called Curdled (1991) in which she played a character who cleaned up after murders. This makes her fascinated by the idea of murder. Quentin Tarantino saw this film and decided to include this character in 'Pulp Fiction' but as a cabdriver.
  • Quentin Tarantino wrote the role of Jules specifically for Samuel L. Jackson, however it was almost given to Paul Calderon after a great audition. When Jackson heard this, he flew to Los Angeles and auditioned again to secure the role. Calderon ended up with a small role as Paul.
  • (at around 55 mins) When Vincent calls Lance on his cell phone, Lance is eating a bowl of Fruit Brute, a cereal from the older monster cereal family. Fruit Brute (which, along with Yummy Mummy, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, and Count Chocula, make up the monster cereals) was later discontinued, along with "Yummy Mummy." Quentin Tarantino has held onto a box and drops it into scenes from time to time. It appeared in Reservoir Dogs (1992), too.
  • The parts of "Honey Bunny" and "Pumpkin" were written specifically for Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth.
  • The role of Vincent Vega was originally (and exclusively) written with Michael Madsen firmly in mind. Quentin Tarantino had been working on his script for 7 months and, even though Madsen knew of Quentin's plans and had expressed his desire to play the part, two weeks before the script was completed Madsen opted instead for the role of Virgil Earp in Wyatt Earp (1994).
  • Marsellus and Mia never actually speak to one another on-screen, even though they are seen together poolside and are husband and wife.
  • Mia Wallace's comment "An Elvis man should love this" is a reference to an earlier scene (cut from some television versions) where Mia claims that everyone can be classified as either an "Elvis" (Elvis Presley) person or a "Beatles" (The Beatles) person. She bets Vincent that he is an "Elvis", and he confirms it. It is also worth noting that Jules calls Tim Roth's character "Ringo," as a reference to the Beatle's drummer Ringo Star, thus making him a Beatles person.
  • The movie's line "You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?... They call it a Royale with cheese." was voted as the #81 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
  • The role of Butch was originally supposed to be an up and coming boxer. Matt Dillon was in talks to play the role, but never committed. Quentin Tarantino then changed the role and offered it to Bruce Willis, who had been disappointed at not being signed to play Vincent.
  • (at around 48 mins) The dance that Vince (John Travolta) and Mia (Uma Thurman) perform at Jack Rabbit Slims was copied, movement by movement, from the dance performed early in Fellini's 1963 classic 8½ (1963) by Gloria Morin (Barbara Steele) and Mario Mezzabotta (Mario Pisu).
  • The screenplay says that Zed and Maynard are brothers.
  • Many people believe that the band-aid on Ving Rhames' neck was an intentional choice by the filmmakers. In reality, it came from an accident Rhames had while shaving his head. When Quentin Tarantino noticed this, it inspired him to open the "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace" sequence with a close-up of the band-aid instead. Ultimately Tarantino liked showing the band-aid rather than Rhames' face because it accentuated the character's mercurial nature and was more visually exciting than a series of single shots of Rhames and Bruce Willis.
  • A "KILLIANS RED" neon sign at the pawn shop is partially lit. It reads: "KILL ED". Seconds before you see Butch pick up Zed's keys there is a "Z" on the key chain. Put it all together and you have "KILL ZED".
  • The man who burst from the bathroom in Brett's apartment was played by the then-named Robert Arquette (whose sister, Rosanna Arquette, played Jody). However she is listed in the credits as Alexis Arquette, the name she later adopted after coming out as a transgender woman.
  • (at around 55 mins) The movie that Lance is watching when Vincent arrives with overdosed Mia is The Three Stooges short, Brideless Groom (1947). Quentin Tarantino is an avid Three Stooges fan, but couldn't get the rights from Comedy III to show them in the movie. So while a Three Stooges film appears on screen ("Brideless Groom" is public domain), the Three Stooges themselves do not. Emil Sitka, the frequent Three Stooges co-star who does appear on screen, is credited as "Hold hands you lovebirds".
  • Quentin Tarantino is an avid collector of vintage TV show board games. During the filming of 'Pulp Fiction', he and John Travolta were reported to have sat on the floor and played the Welcome Back, Kotter (1975) board game.
  • (at around 57 mins) The board games "The Game of Life" and "Operation" are both seen on a table while Vincent and Lance are administering the adrenaline shot.
  • Upon the films UK video rental release, some video stores gave away a pack of limited edition 'Pulp Fiction' matches. On the back of the packet was a quote from the film "you play with matches, you get burned".
  • Some of the scenes of Jimmie Dimmick were directed by an uncredited Robert Rodriguez.
  • Ranked #1 movie in Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics: Movies" (issue #1000, July 4, 2008).
  • Courtney Love claimed that Quentin Tarantino originally wanted Kurt Cobain and her to play Lance and Jody. However, Tarantino denies ever having even met Kurt, much less offering him a part.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (who incidentally shares a birthday with Uma Thurman) wanted the role of Vincent Vega, but Quentin Tarantino turned him down in favor of John Travolta.
  • Quentin Tarantino had originally intended "My Sharona" (by The Knack) to be played during the Gimp torture sequence - but the rights had already been licensed to another film, Reality Bites (1994). On top of this, one of the members of the band had become a born again Christian, and didn't want the song to be associated with a scene of sexual violence.
  • (at around 38 mins) Mia Wallace mentioned about the pilot she did with "Fox Force Five", which she described the characters of the members. The descriptions fit the characters of the movie Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).
  • Knoxville, Tennessee, where Butch was meeting his connection and where his great-grandfather bought the gold watch, is also Quentin Tarantino's birthplace.
  • Steven Martinez (brother of chief graphic designer, Gerald Martinez) is credited with "Very Special Thanks". He painted the portrait of Mia (Uma Thurman) that hangs in Marsellus' house.
  • (at around 32 mins) When Vincent first walks into Mia's house, one of the back doors is slightly open. This was done so the camera wouldn't be reflected in the glass.
  • James Gandolfini was considered for the role of Vincent Vega.
  • Pam Grier auditioned for the role of Lance's wife Jody. Though she had a great audition, Quentin Tarantino decided not to cast her because he could not imagine Grier getting pushed around the way the character does.
  • To get the impact of Vincent giving Mia the adrenalin shot the scene was filmed with the hypodermic needle already in place, Vincent pulled the needle from her chest then the shot was reversed. Watch carefully and you'll see a mark on Mia's chest disappear when she's revived.
  • In both the diner bathroom and in the bathroom in Butch's apartment, Vince is reading a copy of the Peter O'Donnell book "Modesty Blaise". Quentin Tarantino has expressed the desire to film a "Modesty Blaise" movie, and "sponsored" a direct-to-video release of the movie "My Name is Modesty."
  • Trudi (Bronagh Gallagher) can be seen wearing a T-shirt of Irish rock band The Frames. She appeared in The Commitments (1991) with Glen Hansard, the lead singer of The Frames; they became friends, and she promised him she would wear a Frames T-shirt if she got a part in 'Pulp Fiction'. Coincidentally, in 2008, John Travolta awarded the Oscar for Best Original Song to Hansard for the film Once (2006).
  • Chandler Lindauer had to sit through the Captain Koons speech delivered by Christopher Walken. Because of his young age, he had no clue what Walken was saying including the use of adult language.
  • Other actors considered for the film included Daniel Day-Lewis as Vincent, Mickey Rourke, Matt Dillon and Sylvester Stallone as Butch, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daryl Hannah, Meg Ryan, Joan Cusack and Isabella Rossellini as Mia. Rosanna Arquette also auditioned for Mia, but was offered Jody instead.
  • In a cut scene Vincent tells Mia he's been fantasizing about being beaten up by Emma Peel of The Avengers (1961). Uma Thurman later played Emma Peel in The Avengers (1998).
  • Originally set to be released by Tri-Star, the studio got cold feet when they read the script.
  • It reads in the script that "The Bonnie Situation" was originally supposed to be titled "Jules, Vincent, Jimmie and The Wolf".
  • Vincent tells Lance that someone keyed his car (a Chevy Malibu). The person who did it was Butch Coolidge. It was revenge for Vincent insulting him at Marsellus' bar. The Chevy Malibu belonged to Quentin Tarantino at the time.
  • Knoxville, Tennessee, where Butch was meeting his connection and where his great-grandfather bought the gold watch, is also Quentin Tarantino's birthplace.
  • The cab driver, Esmeralda Villalobos (Angela Jones) appeared in a 30-minute short called Curdled (1991) in which she played a character who cleaned up after murders. This makes her fascinated by the idea of murder. Quentin Tarantino saw this film and decided to include this character in Pulp Fiction (1994) but as a cabdriver. This short may have also inspired the character of The Wolf played by Harvey Keitel. It did however get Tarantino to produce a full length feature film, released in 1996.
  • The opening surf rock instrumental song "Miserlou" by Dick Dale was chosen by Tarantino to give the film a "modern spaghetti western" feel.
  • The black and white suits worn by Vincent and Jules are their "suits of armor", according to QT.
  • The character Monster Joe (Monster Joe's Truck and Tow) is a homage to one of QTs favorite directors: Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins, The Burbs). In the deleted footage, Monster Joe is played by Dick Miller, who usually makes cameos in all of Dante's films.

Director Trademarks

  • Quentin Tarantino: [long take] (at around 11 mins) When Jules and Vincent step out of the elevator for their "foot massage" debate, we follow them all the way through the labyrinthine hallways to Brett's door, past Brett's to a window and finally, back to Brett's door again, all in a single take.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [bare feet] Uma Thurman is barefoot for most of the movie.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [Netherlands] Tarantino wrote the script in Amsterdam, in a hotel room and in the "coffee shop" (Dutch euphemism for hash-bar) Betty Boop. He stayed for several months, and left the video rental store "Cult Video" with an unpaid bill of about $150. This stay explains the references to Dutch culture and customs at the beginning of the movie. Vincent tells his heroin dealer that "I just got back from Amsterdam" and discusses it with Jules in their opening scene. In the conversation in the Jack Rabbit Slims restaurant, Mia mentions that she goes to Amsterdam to "chill out" for a month or two every now and again. In the same restaurant, Vincent smokes Drum, which is a Dutch rolling tobacco. Also, the book version of the movie's screenplay includes some cut dialogue between Vincent and Mia - he realizes that she was "the girl in the cowboy hat" in a photo at a hash bar they both visited, the Cobra, which is right across from the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. Also Butch often calls Fabienne "tulip", a cultural symbol of the Netherlands.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [red apple cigarettes] (at around 1 min) Pumpkin also has a pack of Red Apples lying in front of him in the opening scene. The red apple and the green worm can be made out when looking closely.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [comic books] Mia's character of Raven McCoy on her pilot for Fox Force Five is related to three characters of the X-Men series. The name Raven can be derived from Raven Darkholme, the real name of "Mystique" while the surname McCoy is the last name of the character "Beast" whose real name is Hank McCoy. Also, Mia describes her character as having been raised by circus performers, the same upbringing as Kurt Wagner aka "Nightcrawler". Ironically all three characters are blue. Also, Fox Force Five is an alliterative name, a common theme in Marvel comics.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [Chiba] During an interview Tarantino admitted that Jules' Samuel L. Jackson Bible quote of Ezekiel 25:17 was something he remembered from the Shin'ichi Chiba movie Karate Kiba (1976) aka The Bodyguard. He said he never read it in the Bible, and it is taken almost word for word from that film. Tarantino has always been a Chiba fan and has included references to him in True Romance (1993) and a cameo by Chiba in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).
  • Quentin Tarantino: [feet] (at around 1h 9 mins) The cab driver, Esmarelda, does not have shoes on.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [corpse view] (at around 1h 30 mins) After Marsellus is hit by Butch's car we see the camera from Marsellus' "corpse" of the pedestrians looking down at him.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [Red Apple cigarettes] Butch smokes "Red Apple" cigarettes. The same brand is smoked by Tim Roth's character in Four Rooms (1995).
  • Quentin Tarantino: [long take] (at around 1h 28 mins) When Butch gets out of the Honda to retrieve his watch, we follow him around a building, through a hole in a fence until he is across the street from the apartment.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [singing over music] Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) sings and dances over "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" when she comes home from Jack Rabbit Slim's with Vincent Vega (John Travolta). Butch (Bruce Willis) also sings over "Flowers On The Wall", but doesn't dance since he's driving.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [trunk shot] (at around 8 mins) The scene where Jules and Vincent open the trunk to get the guns out of the trunk is filmed from the perspective of someone inside the trunk.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [Feet] close up shots of Mia Wallace's feet, and dancing barefoot.
  • Quentin Tarantino: [Red Apple cigarettes] (at around 37 mins) When Vincent (John Travolta) and Mia (Uma Thurman) sit down at Jack Rabbit Slims, she takes out a pack of cigarettes.