It is hard to reimagine a film that you love containing a different set of actors. It’s what gives weight to the saying ‘born to play the part’, but if this cast shortlist for Pulp Fiction is to be believed, Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece could have been oh so different.
Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer’s thieving duo Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, Travolta’s Vince Vega, Eric Stolz’s bath-robed drug aficionado Lance, and his partner played by Rosanna Arquette, Jody, all had alternatives.
And it seemed that Tarantino really would have liked to get Gary Oldman into the film… somewhere… anywhere. The English actor made the shortlist for every male part included, but was never actually cast in the film.
I wonder if he turned it down, balked up the audition, or was never approached? Because by the look of things Tarantino would have camped at Oldman’s doorstep until he signed up to wander into frame just once.
I can’t think if anyone but Eric Stolz as Lance, so it shocked me to see the part was written for John Kusack.
One character for whom it is easier to picture an alternative actor is that of Vincent. Whilst Travolta will always be synonymous with the role, I can completely see Michael Madsen in the part.
Madsen has worked with Tarantino regularly, starring in Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill Volumes I and II, has all the physicality to slot right in as Vince. I’d go so far as to say the production team clearly tried to make Travolta look like Madsen. But Vince surely would have been far colder if this were reality.
For the part of Jody, the director did bag an Arquette, just not the one he originally wanted. It was Rosanna not Patricia who landed the part.
And it would have been very interesting to see which Johnny Depp would have appeared to play the part of Pumpkin.
Would we have seen a suave, in-control Depp, or the sun-stroked drunken tinker from Pirates of the Carribean? I guess we’ll never know.
On the current evidence at least we are not forced to imagine anyone other than Samuel L Jackson as Jules Winnfield, although I bet Gary Oldman was an option!