Michelle Pfeiffer as Mia Wallace? Daniel Day-Lewis as Vincent Vega? The 20th anniversary of Pulp Fiction keeps on trucking (hang on, isn’t that a Reservoir Dogs reference?) and Uproxx has unearthed the stories of the actors who almost got roles in the landmark movie. It’s hard to imagine Quentin Tarantino’s lines being spoken by anyone other than John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, and Uma Thurman, but things might have been very different.
Consider, for instance, the lead role of Vincent Vega. Tarantino wanted Michael Madsen for the part (in the Tarantinoverse Madsen’s Mr Blonde in Reservoir Dogs is Vincent Vega’s brother.) Madsen passed, much to the director’s fury. Producer Harvey Weinstein then wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to play the hitman. While the idea of the world’s greatest living screen actor opining on fast food in Europe is interesting, Travolta persuaded John Travolta to do it (reviving Travolta’s career and paving the way for Battlefield Earth. Thanks, Quentin.) For the part of boxer Butch Coolidge, the director wanted a real boxer, and asked a sort-of-real boxer, Mickey Rourke, who refused. “I didn’t even read the script. I allowed myself to get proud and angry because I could do the acting. I thought I’d have to be dead not to f***ing work.” And although he’s famous for his speechifying and peculiar attachment to a certain twelve-letter term of abuse, Samuel L. Jackson initially lost out on the role of Jules Winnfield to eventual co-star Paul Calderon. As for Mia Wallace, while I am sure that Michelle Pfeiffer or Meg Ryan would have been just fine, it’s hard now to imagine anyone other than Uma Thurman dancing to Neil Diamond songs. It could have been Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in the twist contest, which probably would have looked like this.