In an alternate universe version of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Eddie Murphy, not Samuel L. Jackson, might have played Jules, the bible-spouting hit man. His partner-in-crime, Vincent Vega, might have been played by Gary Oldman, not John Travolta. And the role of Mia, played memorably by Uma Thurman in black bangs, could have been played by Debra Winger or perhaps Phoebe Cates.
Documents about the movie recently surfaced on Reddit, offering a fascinating glimpse into the early creative discussions for the hugely influential movie. In Tarantino’s wish list, which you can see above, he states that he wrote the roles of Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, the would-be Bonnie and Clyde of the family dining restaurant circuit, with Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer in mind. They, of course, were ultimately cast but Tarantino was willing to entertain Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette. One wonders how Depp’s otherworldly weirdness would have translated as a low level street tough. On the other hand, Tarantino’s first choice for Lance, Vincent Vega’s bathrobe-sporting drug dealer, was none other than John Cusack. That would have been amazing.
Many of the studio’s approved casting choices for the movie, seen here in a fax also appearing in the same Reddit post, are much stranger. Eddie Murphy was tapped as a possible Jules. Miramax liked Nicolas Cage or Johnny Depp (really?) for Butch, the samurai-sword wielding boxer. Bruce Willis, who played the role, wasn’t even on the original list. And mob clean-up man The Wolf, played with an off-kilter decorousness by Harvey Keitel, could have gone to Warren Beatty or Danny DeVito. Strangely, the studio didn’t think Johnny Depp would have been right for the role.
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.