‘Pulp Fiction’ Cast Reunites and Reminisces on Film’s 30th Anniversary: “It Changed Cinema”

The TCM Classic Film Festival kicked off Thursday with a 30th anniversary screening of Pulp Fiction at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Original castmembers John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel reunited to celebrate the film, along with support from Bruce Willis’ wife, Emma, and daughter Tallulah. After making waves this week with news that he was changing course on his final film, writer and director Quentin Tarantino was absent from the event.

During a panel before the screening, Travolta described how when he first met Tarantino to discuss the film in the director’s Hollywood apartment, they bonded by playing board games from movies and TV shows that Travolta had starred in.

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“He was so adorable. He had the fantasy of wanting to play the games that were associated with the films I was in — like the Saturday Night Fever game, there is a game, the Welcome Back Kotter game,” the star remembered. “He said, ‘If we play, just once in a while, just throw out a line that you would say, but don’t tell me when you’re going to do it.’”

He added that they went for Thai food later that night, and Tarantino told him about the stories for both Pulp Fiction and 1996 vampire horror film From Dusk Till Dawn to gauge his interest in both scripts.

“He presented this film to me called From Dusk Till Dawn and Pulp Fiction, so he said, ‘By the way, I spoke to you about those two movies; what did you think about From Dusk Till Dawn?’ I said, ‘Quentin, I’m not a vampire person, I’m not a blood guy. It’s not for me,’” Travolta told the audience. “So I go, and a week later, he offered me the role of Vincent [in Pulp Fiction]. And I said, ‘Why, what did you see in me that I could play this role?’ He said, ‘You have a philosophical viewpoint that I need for that character. I want you to be thoughtful about whatever he’s going through, and that’s it.’”

Pulp Fiction was a career-changing film for most of the cast, but perhaps no one more so than Jackson, who went from struggling supporting actor to international star. He described to The Hollywood Reporter his first experience reading the script that would change his life.

“I was in West Virginia doing a movie when the script came. I had seen Quentin at Sundance, he said he was sending me the script. I got it from Danny DeVito’s company, and it had a little note on it that said, ‘If you show anyone this script, we’ll come to wherever you are and kill you,'” Jackson recalled. “I read it, and when I finished reading it, I immediately flipped it back over and read it again because I couldn’t believe it was that good.”

Speaking on the panel, Thurman added that the film’s real importance wasn’t how it changed their careers but how it changed Hollywood as a whole. She noted, “It changed cinema, so it’s almost hard to have it sink in. I feel like I’ve had an evolving and beautiful and growing relationship with Pulp Fiction throughout my life. It changed cinema, and it changed every filmmaker that I’ve ever met.”

One recurring thought shared by all the castmembers is the fun they had shooting and working together. Eric Stoltz, who portrayed heroin dealer Lance, shared his favorite memory from working on the film.

“I went to the wrap party, and I was standing there with a bunch of people. I looked up, and John Travolta was dancing right next to Chris Walken, and I thought, ‘Those are two of the best dancers I’ve ever seen on the dance floor,’” Stoltz told THR. “They didn’t care who was watching. They were just having a great time.”

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