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Why Uma Thurman Almost Turned Down Her Iconic Role in ‘Pulp Fiction’


When I think of Uma Thurman I don’t like to think of her Bollywooding ridiculously on Smash or sailing through the air in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. I like to think of her in her career-defining role in Pulp Fiction, drawing her fingers across her eyes while dancing with John Travolta. It’s funny to find out she almost turned down the role in Quentin Tarantino‘s masterpiece.

In it’s annual Hollywood Issue (you know, the one with all the stars on the cover), Vanity Fair has an oral history of the making of the movie. To convince you all to go to newsstands and pick it up tomorrow, they’ve released some snippets about casting the movie, and it turns out that Thurman, Travolta, and Samuel L. Jackson almost didn’t make it into the film. “[It was] pretty frightening,” Thurman tells the magazine. “I was 23, from Massachusetts. [Tarantino] wasn’t this revered demigod auteur that he has grown into. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, because I was worried about the Gimp stuff…We had very memorable, long discussions about male rape versus female rape. No one could believe I even hesitated in any way. Neither can I, in hindsight.”

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As for Travolta, Miramax head Harvey Weinstein, who financed the film, didn’t want the actor, who was irrelevant at the time, mucking up the movie. He wanted Bruce Willis, who was interested, for the part. Tarantino wouldn’t budge and Willis ended up getting the part of Butch, the boxer, after Matt Dillon wavered on his commitment. As for Jackson’s sinister audition with a hamburger and a shake, you have to read it to believe it. And thank god it all worked out, because we would hate for the first movie mentioned in Thurman’s inevitable obituary to be The Truth About Cats and Dogs.

Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan

[Photo Credit: Miramax]


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