Some 19 years have passed since Pulp Fiction was released, putting the film at that edge-of-your-teens age where nostalgia for your youth starts to kick in, assumptions begin to fall, and you’re able to answer questions about yourself without being a huge dick about it. And so it is that, on this awkward anniversary, some of the cast and crew of Quentin Tarantino’s game-changing hit gathered at Vanity Fair to reminisce on some things that haven’t always been discussed, even in nearly two decades of talking and writing about it.
Given Pulp Fiction’s fervent following, the oral history is understandably light on real revelations: Diehards may already know, for example, that John Travolta was always a distant fourth or fifth (if even in the running at all) for the role of Vincent Vega. Still, it’s always amusing to play “what-if” casting with Harvey Weinstein’s suggestions of Sean Penn, William Hurt, and Daniel Day-Lewis—particularly in the context of what we know about Daniel Day-Lewis now. (Would he have insisted on doing heroin the whole time? “I drink your $5 milkshake!” jokes, and so on.) It’s also interesting to note that Bruce Willis—a casting coup that Tarantino says “made us legit”—originally lobbied for the Vega role, but landed the consolation prize of Butch once Matt Dillon dilly-dallied too long over accepting. Great job, Matt Dillon.
But really, if you’re going to read one more thing about Pulp Fiction today, do it for the anecdote about how a pissed-off Samuel L. Jackson bullied his way into his role (and, quite possibly, one of his most famous scenes) with the help of a burger. Here’s a tiny excerpt: “In comes Sam with a burger in his hand and a drink in the other hand and stinking like fast food… He said, ‘Do you think you’re going to give this part to somebody else? I’m going to blow you motherfuckers away.’” This article, too, is a tasty burger.