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About That Time Daniel Day-Lewis Almost Starred in ‘Pulp Fiction’

Daniel Day Lewis Pulp Fiction
Miramax/DreamWorks/Illustration by

Quentin Tarantino‘s ‘Pulp Fiction’ is one of the undisputed classics of modern cinema; one of those movie everyone can remember seeing for the first time, a movie that seems like it’s always been here with us. But a fascinating article in Vanity Fair has revealed that the ‘Pulp Fiction’ we know and love almost looked very different. For example, how about Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis instead of John Travolta?

Get the intriguing behind-the-scenes story after the break. (Tasty burger optional.)

The article gives us an inside look at the somewhat difficult build-up to the making of Tarantino’s seminal film, which was a difficult proposition considering its intense violence, limitless profanity and disturbing subject matter. (Heroin! Male-on-male rape!) And even when it was ready to go before cameras, there was still the matter of Tarantino, then making only his second feature, demanding final cut and a 2-1/2 hour running time. Though it’s so clearly a work of genius now, it is rather amazing that it got made at all.

Among the interesting revelations in the article:

– Producer Harvey Weinstein did not want John Travolta to play Vincent Vega, especially because Daniel Day-Lewis and Bruce Willis, both of whom had read the screenplay, badly wanted the role and Weinstein knew he could get Day-Lewis (who had already won an Oscar for ‘My Left Foot’) to star. Tarantino held strong and eventually convinced Weinstein that it was Travolta or the deal was off.

– It was Travolta’s idea to include “the Batman” and all of the other vintage moves in the film’s famous dance sequence.

– Quentin Tarantino had promised the role of Butch the Boxer to Matt Dillon, but after Dillon said he wanted to “sleep” on whether or not he’d take the role, Tarantino immediately yanked it away and gave it to Willis, who was still interested in starring, even after the Vincent Vega role was cast with Travolta.

Uma Thurman was hesitant to take on the role of Mia, because of the rape of her on-screen husband, Ving Rhames, and “the Gimp stuff.”

– Every studio in town passed on the ‘Pulp Fiction’ script. Surprising, then, that it took a company owned by Disney to finally make it.

Samuel L. Jackson walked into his final audition angry: he was in danger of losing the role of Jules to another actor and had just been mistaken for Laurence Fishburne before the audition. Said Richard Gladstein, then-head of Miramax, “I was scared shitless. I thought that this guy was going to shoot a gun right through my head.” He also happened to be eating a fast-food burger and sipping on a cola, which was written into the film for his character.

Check out the fascinating article right here.

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