Pulp Fiction Uncovered: 24 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know!

A minimalist cover design of Pulp Fiction featuring Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) dancing, against a red background.

If there’s one film that revolutionized the world of cinema and pop culture, it’s Quentin Tarantino‘s “Pulp Fiction.” Released in 1994, the film garnered critical acclaim and a cult following, thanks to its unique narrative structure, quotable dialogue, and unforgettable characters. Even after almost three decades, the film still holds up and remains a favorite among movie buffs.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into 24 trivia about “Pulp Fiction” that you may not have known before. From the inspiration behind the iconic dance scene to the reasons why certain actors turned down the roles, these facts will blow your mind and make you appreciate the film even more.

The Title Was Inspired by a Classic Fiction Magazine

The title “Pulp Fiction” was inspired by the pulp fiction magazines of the 20th century, which featured cheap, sensational stories printed on cheap, pulpy paper. Tarantino used this term to describe the film’s mix of genres, including crime, comedy, and drama, and its focus on violent, larger-than-life characters.

The Film Was Almost Called “Black Mask”

Before settling on “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino considered several other titles, including “Black Mask,” which was a reference to a pulp fiction magazine from the 1920s. However, he eventually decided on “Pulp Fiction” because it better captured the film’s tone and style.

The Role of Vincent Vega Was Written for Michael Madsen

Tarantino originally wrote the role of Vincent Vega, the hitman played by John Travolta, for Michael Madsen, who had worked with Tarantino on “Reservoir Dogs.” However, Madsen turned down the part, and the role went to Travolta, who was in the midst of a career slump at the time.

Image of Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) eating a burger, moments before a violent killing scene, from the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Big Kahuna Burger Is a Running Theme in Tarantino’s Films

In “Pulp Fiction,” the characters frequently visit a fictional fast-food chain called Big Kahuna Burger. This restaurant also appears in Tarantino’s other films, such as “Reservoir Dogs” and “From Dusk Till Dawn,” creating a shared universe between his works.

The Famous Dance Scene Was Inspired by Jean-Luc Godard

The scene in which Uma Thurman’s character Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega dance to Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” is one of the most iconic moments in the film. Tarantino has stated that he was inspired by a similar scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Band of Outsiders.”

The Film Was Shot in Chronological Order

Most films are not shot in chronological order, as scenes are typically filmed out of order based on logistical and budgetary reasons. However, “Pulp Fiction” was shot in sequence, which allowed the actors to develop their characters’ arcs and maintain a sense of continuity.

Image of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) sitting in chairs with red ball gags in their mouths in a dungeon, from the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Gimp Scene Was Almost Cut

The infamous scene in which the characters encounter a sex slave named the Gimp was almost cut from the film due to its disturbing content. However, Tarantino fought to keep it in, arguing that it was crucial to the story and added to the film’s shock value.

The Role of Butch Coolidge Was Written for Matt Dillon

Tarantino wrote the role of Butch Coolidge, the boxer played by Bruce Willis, for Matt Dillon. However, Dillon turned down the part, and it ultimately went to Willis.

The Famous Dance Scene Was Inspired by a Real-Life Contest

The iconic dance scene between Uma Thurman and John Travolta was inspired by a real-life dance contest that Tarantino had witnessed in Amsterdam. The contest featured a couple dancing to the song “You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry, which later became the soundtrack to the “Pulp Fiction” scene.

Image of Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) lying on a couch with a syringe in her chest and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) holding a needle, from the "Adrenaline Shot" scene in the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Adrenaline Shot Scene Was Realistic

The scene where Vincent administers an adrenaline shot to Mia after she overdoses on heroin is surprisingly accurate. Tarantino consulted with a medical professional to ensure that the scene was realistic, and the syringe used in the scene was filled with saline solution to simulate the effect of adrenaline.

Tarantino Wrote the Part of Mia Wallace for Uma Thurman

Tarantino wrote the role of Mia Wallace specifically for Uma Thurman, whom he had previously worked with on “Pulp Fiction” producer Harvey Weinstein’s film “Mad Dog and Glory.” However, Thurman was initially hesitant to take the part because of the film’s controversial content.

The Role of Jules Was Written for Samuel L. Jackson

Like Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson was a frequent collaborator of Tarantino’s and was the first actor to be cast in “Pulp Fiction.” Tarantino wrote the role of Jules Winnfield specifically for Jackson, and the character’s distinctive hairstyle was inspired by Jackson’s own hair at the time.

Image of a glowing suitcase being opened, revealing a mysterious and bright light, from the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Suitcases Contain a Mystery Item

The contents of the two glowing suitcases that Jules and Vincent retrieve for their boss, Marcellus Wallace, have been the subject of much speculation over the years. Tarantino has never revealed what’s inside the suitcases, leading fans to come up with their own theories, including that they contain diamonds or even Marcellus’ soul.

The Film Was Originally Meant to Be a Short

“Pulp Fiction” was initially meant to be a short film that was part of a three-part anthology project. However, Tarantino expanded it into a full-length feature after being inspired by the characters and storylines he had created.

The Role of Vincent Vega Was Almost Played by Daniel Day-Lewis

Before John Travolta was cast, Tarantino considered casting Daniel Day-Lewis as Vincent Vega. However, Day-Lewis turned it down, and Travolta ultimately got the role that revitalized his career.

Image of Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) sitting in a car, startled by an exploding gun, from the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Actors Had to Rehearse for Months

Tarantino’s films are known for their long and intricate dialogue, and “Pulp Fiction” was no exception. To prepare for their roles, the actors spent months rehearsing the script and getting to know their characters, which helped them create the film’s naturalistic and nuanced performances.

The “Royale with Cheese” Scene Was Added at the Last Minute

The scene in which Vincent and Jules discuss the differences between American and European fast food was added to the script at the last minute, after Tarantino realized that the characters would be driving around a lot and needed something to talk about. The line about the “Royale with Cheese” has since become one of the film’s most iconic quotes.

Harvey Keitel Helped Finance the Film

Harvey Keitel, who played the role of Winston Wolf, not only acted in “Pulp Fiction” but also helped finance the film when it was struggling to find backing. Keitel was a big fan of Tarantino’s work and believed in the potential of “Pulp Fiction,” so he used his own money to help fund the project.

Image of a gold watch being held up by a character's hand, with a close-up view of the watch face, from the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Watch Was Christopher Walken’s Idea

In the scene where Christopher Walken’s character delivers a monologue about the gold watch that Butch’s father hid in his rectum during the Vietnam War, the idea for the watch actually came from Walken himself. He had previously owned a similar watch and thought it would be a great addition to the character.

The “Ezekiel 25:17” Quote Was Invented by Tarantino

The famous quote that Jules recites before killing someone, which begins with “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides,” is actually a completely original creation by Tarantino. The quote was meant to sound like a Bible passage but was actually written by Tarantino himself.

The Film Was a Box Office Success

Despite its unconventional narrative structure and controversial content, “Pulp Fiction” was a massive box office success, grossing over $200 million worldwide. It also received numerous accolades, including the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Image of Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) holding a gun and quoting from the Bible, with Vincent Vega (John Travolta) looking on, from the "Bible Scene" in the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Film Was a Critical and Commercial Success

Despite its controversial content and unconventional structure, “Pulp Fiction” was a massive critical and commercial success when it was released in 1994. It won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning Best Original Screenplay. It also helped establish Tarantino as one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers of his generation.

The Role of Mia Wallace Was Almost Played by a Different Actress

Uma Thurman was not Tarantino’s first choice for the role of Mia Wallace. He initially offered the part to Michelle Pfeiffer, who turned it down due to her discomfort with the film’s drug use.

The Role of Lance Was Written for Eric Stoltz

Tarantino originally wrote the role of Lance, the drug dealer who sells heroin to Vincent and Mia, for Eric Stoltz. However, Stoltz turned it down, and the role went to Eric’s “Mask” co-star, Eric Roth.

In conclusion, “Pulp Fiction” is a film that continues to captivate audiences and inspire filmmakers to this day. These 24 trivia facts only scratch the surface of the film’s legacy and impact. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a first-time viewer, the film’s unique blend of humor, violence, and heart is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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Written by 11:00 pm Facts & Trivia, Featured, Movies

Last modified: June 16, 2023