This is a list of characters with speaking roles appearing in Quentin Tarantino's widely noted 1994 Pulp Fiction. Each of the four stories revolve around a certain character, the first is Vincent Vega as is the second, the third story's protagonist was Butch Coolidge. Lastly, the final story is a partial replay of the first excerpt from Jules Winnfield's point of view.
Vincent Vega is portrayed by John Travolta in an Academy Award-nominated performance. He, Marsellus Wallace and Mia Wallace are the only characters who appear in all the film's separate stories. Vincent is the brother of Vic Vega, a character in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.
Vincent is a hitman who has been working for mob boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) in Amsterdam for over three years and recently returned to Los Angeles, where he has been partnered with Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson). Vincent lives in Redondo Beach and drives a red 1964 Chevrolet Malibu convertible which was in storage while he was in the Netherlands. Mia calls Vincent an Elvis man. He wears a bola tie with his suit, has long hair pulled back into a ponytail, rolls his own cigarettes, uses heroin and orders his steak "bloody as hell". Although Vincent says he does not watch TV he knowledgeably refers to the television show COPS along with movie stars from the 1950s and seems very familiar with Arnold the Pig from the 1960s television series Green Acres. At the time of the story he is seen reading a copy of Modesty Blaise. He expresses scrupulous loyalty towards his boss Marsellus. However, he can be a cold, selfish bully, and sometimes strongly resents what he sees as authority, to the point of stubborn foolishness. Whenever he goes to the bathroom something bad happens: Mia accidentally overdoses when she finds his heroin and mistakes it for cocaine, the coffee shop gets robbed and in the end Vincent gets killed by Butch.
The role was written for Michael Madsen, who turned it down because he couldn't get out of rehearsals for Wyatt Earp  (Madsen had also played Vincent's brother Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs). Mia calls Vincent "cowboy", a reference to his bola tie. Vincent then calls Mia "cowgirl". Travolta has said some of his dance moves with Uma Thurman during the Jack Rabbit Slim's scene were based on Adam West's Batusi from the 1960s Batman television series. The scene which depicts Vincent plunging a syringe into Mia's chest was filmed with Travolta pulling the prop needle out; the film was then run backwards. In one of the movie's deleted scenes a reference is made to Vincent Vega's cousin, whose name is Suzanne Vega. Mia asks whether this is the folk singer and Vincent replies that he "does not know if his cousin became a folk singer".
Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is a hitman working alongside Vincent Vega for Marsellus Wallace. He lives in Inglewood, has jheri curled hair and drives a 1974 Chevrolet Nova which he describes as "tip-top". Jules seems to value friendships and loyalty, appears to be thoughtful, can be gregarious and talkative but has a slow temper, is a remorseless professional killer and is capable of psychologically tormenting a victim before "popping a cap in his ass." After narrowly avoiding death, Jules is stunned and swiftly re-evaluates his life, deciding to retire as a hitman and "walk the earth like Caine in Kung-Fu."
Pseudo biblical passageEdit
In the final diner scene Jules tells how if someone heard him recite the Biblical passage Ezekiel 25:17, this meant they were about to die. The passage is heard three times in the film, first when Jules and Vincent reclaim Marsellus's briefcase from the doomed Brett, next when the narrative picks up again at this same scene to begin "The Bonnie Situation" and lastly when Ringo hears it during the epilogue at the diner. Jules's version of the passage reads as follows:
|“||The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.||”|
In the diner scene, the final line of the verse is modified slightly when recited by Jules:
|“||And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my Vengeance upon you.||”|
This was adapted from the introduction to the 1976 film The Bodyguard. Tarantino is a fan of the film's star, Sonny Chiba, whom he would work with in Kill Bill. According to the Pulp Fiction Special Edition DVD trivia track, Tarantino had Chiba on the set when the lines were recorded for the apartment scene at the beginning of the film.
The actual verse is similar, yet notably different. In the King James Version of the Bible, it reads:
|“||And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.||”|
Tarantino originally envisioned Jules sporting a giant afro, but a wardrobe assistant mistakenly brought the wrong wig on the set, which was kept anyway. The character name may be a reference to former basketball player Julius "Dr. J" Erving, who was sporting a giant afro in the 1970s. Erving's full name is Julius Winfield Erving II.
Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) is an aging boxer who agrees to lose a boxing match in exchange for a bribe from Marsellus Wallace. He may have scratched Vincent Vega's car with a key after the two had a brief confrontation at Marsellus's Inglewood club. Butch betrays Marcellus by betting on his own victory (with presumably long odds) and wins the match by accidentally killing his opponent in the ring. He escapes to a motel room where his girlfriend Fabienne is waiting for him. However, she has forgotten to bring along his gold watch, which was worn by his father, grandfather and great grandfather during three wars. Butch has a temper but this seems to be dampened by his feelings for others. He becomes very angry at Fabienne for her forgetfulness, throwing a television across the room. He calms down when she screams and becomes frightened. He leaves to retrieve the watch. Warily returning to his modest apartment (where he has abandoned many souvenirs and prizes from his boxing career) Butch searches the house, and to his surprise finds no gangsters inside. Butch pauses before departing, to toast a pair of toaster pastries, but spots a machine gun on the kitchen counter. Its presence is explained when he hears the toilet flush, so he readies the gun, Vincent emerges, and they stare tensely at each other until the pastries pop up and he wordlessly kills Vincent. He leaves, retrieves his car, and stops at a stop light. Marsellus, carrying a box of donuts, crosses the street in front of him and -- in a cinematic reference to Psycho -- they recognize each other. Butch floors the accelerator to run down Marsellus with the car. Marsellus falls. Butch crashes into another car, wrecking his car and injuring his leg. After a short period in which Butch is helped from the car by several witnesses (including Kathy Griffin in an uncredited role), Marsellus recovers, draws his gun and clumsily fires at Butch. However, he misses Butch and instead hits a bystander in the thigh. He then pursues Butch with his handgun, down the street and into a local pawn shop. The two of them scuffle, Butch recovers Marsellus' gun and is about to shoot Marsellus in the face when Maynard, the store owner, produces a shotgun and orders Butch to give up his weapon. Maynard knocks Butch unconscious. Marsellus and Butch awaken to find themselves in the basement, tied to the chairs they are sitting in, with ball gags in their mouths. They wait in the basement until Maynard's friend Zed arrives. Zed gets Maynard to "bring out the Gimp" (a man in an S&M bondage suit who they keep chained inside of a locked box), then selects Marsellus for anal rape. They chain the Gimp to overhead pipes to keep an eye on Butch while Zed is raping Marsellus in another room with Maynard watching. Butch manages to free himself, knocks out the Gimp with a hard punch and makes ready to flee the pawn shop. Amid the merchandise, he has second thoughts and casts about for a weapon, passing up a hammer, baseball bat and a chainsaw in favor of a razor sharp katana sword. He returns to the basement and saves the mobster, killing Maynard and holding Zed at bay. Zed is then shot in the groin by Marsellus, who has picked up Maynard's shotgun. Marsellus tells Butch his betrayal is not to be avenged, but says with deadly seriousness that the rape must never be revealed, and tells Butch to never return to L.A. Butch uses Zed's keys to steal his chopper, picks up Fabienne, and they depart on the machine.
Tarantino once said that the role was written for Sylvester Stallone, who turned it down. Bruce Willis was a major star but most of his recent films had been box-office disappointments. Peter Bart noted Willis' acceptance of a role in the modestly budgeted film "meant lowering his salary and risking his star status, but the strategy...paid off royally: Pulp Fiction not only brought Willis new respect as an actor, but also earned him several million dollars as a result of his gross participation." In conceiving the character, Tarantino said, "I basically wanted him to be like Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly . I wanted him to be a bully and a jerk...."
Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) is the wife of wealthy mob boss Marsellus Wallace. She is a former actress who appeared in a failed television pilot called Fox Force Five and is also an apparent cocaine addict. She is also a barefooter, as there is only one scene in which she has shoes on. She spends time in Amsterdam one month a year, but Vincent was not aware of this. Her behavior with Marsellus is sophisticated, reserved and sleek, but with Vincent she is very talkative, articulate and somewhat more casually dressed. There is gossip among Marsellus' associates he had his henchman Antoine "Tony Rocky Horror" Rockamora thrown out of a window and through a glass roof for giving Mia a foot massage. She denies this was the reason, saying what happened to Tony Rocky Horror is between him and Marsellus. She can dance and wins a contest with Vincent Vega at the 1950s retro-themed Jackrabbit Slim's. After this, Mia mistakes a baggie of Vincent's "mad dog" heroin for cocaine, snorts a line and overdoses. With help from Vincent and Lance, she survives and agrees with Vincent never to mention the incident again. She ends the encounter by telling Vincent a joke with the punchline catch up. Mia is aloof with Vincent the next time they briefly meet, but this may be because they are within earshot of Marsellus, who at the moment is very angry about having been betrayed by Butch.
Thurman was one of three cast-members from Pulp Fiction to receive an Oscar nomination in the Best Acting category. Thurman beat out Jane Fonda, Holly Hunter, Meg Ryan, Meg Tilly and Tuesday Weld to win the role. Thurman dominated most of the film's promotional material, appearing on a bed with cigarette in hand. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in Pulp Fiction and was launched into the celebrity A-list. She took no advantage of this new found fame and chose not to do any big budget films for the next three years. Thurman's outfit reappears in two of Tarantino's later films, Jackie Brown (1998) and Kill Bill, Volume 1 (2004) and 2.
Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) is a wealthy Los Angeles mob boss married to Mia, a former aspiring actress. They live in the Hollywood Hills. Marsellus is intelligent, straightforward, and loyal but when confronted with a problem may quickly resort to violence and murder, hence all of the characters who know Marsellus are wary of him. Butch saves Marsellus's life from his rapist, Zed, and he forgives the boxer but tells him to leave town and never come back.
Marcellus Wallace was originally supposed to be played by Sid Haig. However he turned it down, and Ving Rhames took the part. According to Pulp Fiction producer Lawrence Bender, Rhames gave "one of the best auditions I've ever seen." His acclaimed performance led to him being cast in big-budget features such as Mission Impossible, Con Air, and Out of Sight.
Ringo and YolandaEdit
Pumpkin (Tim Roth), dubbed Ringo (a reference to the English musician Ringo Starr) by Jules because of strong English accent and Yolanda (Amanda Plummer), also called Honey Bunny by her companion are a pair of small time crooks who have been robbing liquor stores. During an animated conversation as the film begins they decide to rob a coffee shop and even congratulate each other on how clever they have been for coming up with this notion. However they narrowly avoid getting shot by Jules, who instead tries to help them as his first act of redemption.
Tim Roth was previously cast in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs as "Mr. Orange". The part was written specifically for Roth, even though Miramax preferred Johnny Depp or Christian Slater. Amanda Plummer was introduced by Roth to director Tarantino and the part was written for her and Roth to play onscreen.
Brett (Frank Whaley), is educated, intelligent and smug. He seems to be the leader of a small group of college aged young men who have betrayed Marsellus over a mysterious briefcase (when the two hitmen arrive at the apartment, Jules specifically confirms Brett's identity). Brett apparently has a habit of resolving his problems through talking (but perhaps not sincerely so). Jules deliberately taunts and unsettles Brett before he and Vincent shoot him multiple times in the chest and back, killing him.
Roger (Burr Steers), dubbed by Jules as A Flock of Seagulls, in response to his hair style (a reference to the New Wave band A Flock of Seagulls). He is a more passive accomplice in the group (Jules motions for him to remain lying on the couch when he is about to sit up as Jules and Vincent enter the apartment) and immediately reveals where Jules and Vincent can find the briefcase. He is casually shot and killed by Jules to taunt and frighten Brett.
Man #4 (Alexis Arquette) waits in the bathroom with a .357 Magnum while Roger and Brett are murdered. He then rushes out and empties the pistol with six shots fired at Vincent and Jules but misses altogether. All three pause in surprised shock before the hitmen respond by shooting him. Because Vincent and Jules were unharmed, Jules suggests that this was a result of divine intervention, and Vincent reluctantly agrees with him, but only under pressure from Jules.
Marvin (Phil LaMarr) is an informant for Marsellus who lets Jules and Vincent into the apartment at a pre-arranged time. He breaks down somewhat when Brett, Roger and Man #4 are murdered. Riding in the car with the hitmen as they flee the murder scene, Vincent asks Marvin what he thinks about Jules' claim they've witnessed a miracle. Marvin answers, "I don't even have an opinion," but Vincent insists, asking, "Do you think that God came down from heaven and stopped..." whereupon he accidentally shoots Marvin in the face. Vincent and Jules end up having to hide the car at Jimmie's place for a little while to clean up the blood. Later, Mr Wolf characterizes Marvin as "nobody who will be missed."
The original script called for Marvin to be shot in the neck and then mercy killed by Vincent and Jules but Tarantino later thought it would be funnier to dispatch the character with a single head shot.
Esmarelda Villa LobosEdit
"Esmarelda Villa Lobos (Angela Jones) is a Columbian taxi driver who takes Butch Coolidge back to his hotel after he wins the fight he was supposed to lose. Before he gets into the cab, she is seen drinking from a mug listening to a radio broadcast about the fight. Two presenters are discussing the fight and reveal that the other boxer (Wilson) has died. Butch jumps into a skip and gets into the cab. After he gets in, she drives off at high speed. It is through her that Butch learns that he has killed the other boxer. We learn her name because Butch reads it out from her taxi licence which is hanging on the dashboard.
Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) is Butch Coolidge's girlfriend. She is emotional and sensitive, appears to like Madonna and is aware of Butch's plan to betray Marsellus. While packing to abandon the apartment and meet Butch at a motel, she carelessly forgets his gold watch (not knowing its sentimental value), though she had been reminded several times.
Maynard (Duane Whitaker) is the owner of a pawn shop. He has a beard, speaks with a southeastern US accent, is rather badly groomed and listens to languid, woeful country music. He is prone to (and apparently thrilled by) remorseless violence and victimization, including sadomasochism and homosexual rape. Maynard is killed by Butch via katana slash across the abdomen, followed by a slick reverse stab.
Zed (Peter Greene) is a security guard who rides a chopper motorcycle which he calls Grace. He is a friend of Maynard (although more carefully groomed), also speaks with a southeastern US accent and shares Maynard's violent, sadistic interests. Zed sodomizes Marcellus, who later shoots him in the groin with a shotgun and promises to call psychotic crack-addicted men to torture Zed to death with pliers and a blowtorch.
The Gimp (Stephen Hibbert), dressed and masked all in black leather, sleeps in a locked, coffin-like box in the basement of the pawnshop. It is unknown whether he stays there voluntarily or not, but there are hints he is not free to leave. The Gimp taunts Butch while he is bound to a chair. When Butch frees himself the Gimp screams for help and is punched in the face (and KOed) by Butch. He is apparently strangled to death by the collar and chain Maynard had used earlier to tie him to the overhead water pipes.
Paul (Paul Calderon) is Marcellus' close aide and perhaps his second in command. Paul works (or poses) as a bartender in Marcellus' Inglewood club and has a friendly personality. He is loyal to his boss, but seems hesitant when Marcellus orders him to put Butch's trainer into the dog kennel to make sure he didn't know about the boxer's plan to betray him.
Calderon almost got the part of Jules after a positive audition, but the part went to Samuel L. Jackson and Calderon got the smaller part of Paul.
In the original screenplay, Calderon's character is named "English Dave". However, the character's name is spoken once in the released version of the film ("Hey, my name's Paul and this shit's between y'all").
Lance (Eric Stoltz) is a heroin dealer who lives in a cluttered Hollywood bungalow. He has known Vincent for a long time and successfully sells him a more expensive grade of heroin. Lance eats Fruit Brute cereal and watches The Three Stooges on television. He has an easy-going personality but is careful in his drug dealings and paranoid about being arrested. Lance refuses to help Vincent when Mia overdoses until he learns she is Marcellus Wallace's wife.
Quentin Tarantino was originally going to play Lance, but decided to play Jimmie Dimmick instead because he wanted to be behind the camera during Uma Thurman's resuscitation scene.
Jody (Rosanna Arquette) is Lance's wife. She claims to have 18 piercings on her body, "all done with a needle," is open about sex and seems to have at least some vague understanding of human anatomy. At first angry when Lance lets Vincent into the house with the overdosing Mia, Jody becomes enthralled when Vincent injects adrenaline into Mia's heart with a long hypodermic needle.
Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) is seen in a flashback depicting how he came to see Butch about 20 years earlier, when the boxer was a child. Koons was a military pilot who had spent years in a Hanoi P.O.W. camp with Butch's father, who was also a pilot and died there. Koons was high-strung and very articulate. He gave young Butch a beat up gold watch which his father, grandfather and great grandfather had each worn during three wars. The captain carefully explained to the youngster that his father hid the watch "up his ass for five years" and after his father died, of dysentery, he (Koons) hid the watch "up [his] ass for two years."
Captain Koons, portrayed by Christopher Walken, appears in a single scene, devoted to the Vietnam veteran's monologue about the gold watch. In 1993, Walken had appeared in another small but pivotal role as Vincenzo Coccotti in the "Sicilian scene" in the Tarantino-written True Romance. Walken was also considered for films Reservoir Dogs and From Dusk Till Dawn, which also written by Tarantino. Walken didn't star in From Dusk Till Dawn due to scheduling conflicts and he turned down the role of Mr. Blonde, portrayed by Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs . He also turned down the role in Sin City, a film in which Quentin Tarantino was a guest director.
Jimmie Dimmick (Quentin Tarantino) has been a gangster and is Jules' "only friend in 818" (LA area code slang for the San Fernando Valley). Jimmie lives in a very domesticated 1960s era tract house in Toluca Lake with his wife Bonnie, a registered nurse. He buys expensive coffee because "when Bonnie goes shopping, she buys shit. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it, I want to taste it". After Jules and Vincent show up and park the blood soaked car with Marvin's body in Jimmie's garage, he tersely expresses his concerns by ranting, claiming that "...storing dead niggers ain't [his] fucking business..." He wants to help Jules but is worried if Bonnie comes home from work and finds a corpse in the garage, she'll divorce him. Winston Wolf arrives, successfully organizes an escape plan, gives Jimmie what appears to be a few thousand dollars and leaves with the hitmen, the car and the corpse before Bonnie comes home. Jimmie may be a relative of Reservoir Dogs character Lawrence Dimmick (who goes by the name Mr. White in the film).
Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), also known as The Wolf, drives fast (in an Acura NSX), thinks fast and talks fast to swiftly, calmly and professionally solve problems (as he says to Jimmy), presumably those which arise from criminal activities. Wolf wears a tuxedo, carries large sums of cash, drinks his coffee with lots of cream and sugar and may have a penchant for private, high stakes gambling. He apparently lives in the San Fernando valley.
The part was written specifically for Harvey Keitel after he starred in Tarantino's debut film Reservoir Dogs and helped produce it. He played a similar role as Victor "The Cleaner" in Point of No Return (also known as The Assassin), which was released a year earlier.
Raquel (Julia Sweeney) is Monster Joe's daughter, who helps Mr Wolf dispose of Jules' "tainted car" along with Marvin's body at Monster Joe's Truck and Tow in the San Fernando Valley. When she sees how Jules and Vincent are dressed after having disposed of their blood-soaked clothes, she smirks and asks the two hitmen if they are "going to a volleyball game or something." Mr Wolf calls her a "character" and the two go off to have breakfast.
- ↑ Pulp Fiction (1994) - Trivia
- ↑ Michael Madsen biography
- ↑ Quoted in Dargis (1994), p. 10.
- ↑ Bart (2000), p. 85. Willis's deal for a percentage of the box office gross was presumably on top of a base weekly salary that was identical to the other main actors', per Polan (2000), p. 69; Dawson (1995), p. 148.
- ↑ Quoted in Dargis (1994), p. 10. As for Willis himself, "He reminds me of Aldo Ray in Jacques Tourneur's Nightfall . I told him I could imagine Aldo Ray being great as Butch and he said, 'Yeah, I like Aldo Ray, that's a good idea.' So I said let's go for that whole look" (ibid.). Other sources have claimed that Butch was patterned after Ray's Nightfall role—Brooker and Brooker (1996), p. 234; Polan (1999), p. 23. Tarantino's one public statement on the topic, quoted here, is clearly devoted to Butch's look and not his personality.
- ↑ Dominic Wills. "Uma Thurman Biography". Tiscali. http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/uma_thurman_biog/6. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- ↑ Dawson (1995), p. 155.
- ↑ "Ving Rhames Biography". Allmovie. New York Times. http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=59836&mod=bio. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- ↑ Tim Roth at the Internet Movie Database
- ↑ Charyn (2006), p. 73.
- ↑ Dawson, Jeff (December 1995). "Hit Man". Empire. http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=59836&mod=bio. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Pulp Fiction (1994) - Full cast and crew
- ↑ From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) - Trivia
- ↑ Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Trivia
- ↑ Sin City (2005) - Trivia