Can you even imagine a Pulp Fiction movie without Samuel L. Jackson starring as Vincent Vega’s (John Travolta) partner-in-crime, Jules Winnfield? Who else would be able to deliver that Ezekiel 25:17 passage? Well, another award-winning actor was offered the role first, and turned it down. In a new interview Monday (November 21) with journalist Jemele Hill, Laurence Fishburne discussed the role.
In the interview, he was asked if there was a decision made in his acting career that he turned down and later regretted. Before Hill could finish asking her question, Fishburne interjected, “No,” and added, “I turned down Pulp Fiction. I do not regret that decision at all, you know why? Because it turned out to be the star-making role of Sam Jackson’s career. That’s the role that made Sam Jackson a star — and I contributed to that — I stayed out the way.” Hill joked, “I hope you remind him of that!” The two powerhouse actors apparently have never talked about it. But Fishburne maintained that he didn’t “regret any of those things.” He added, “It wasn’t for me.” Fishburne, 61, said there were things about Quentin Tarantino’s script that he “didn’t like.” But there were things in the script that “were fun.”
Fishburne also turned down 1993’s What’s Love Got To Do With It five times before agreeing to the role to play Ike Turner. But once he found out that Angela Bassett was starring as Tina, he thought, “Well, I have to do this now.” He was a fan of hers and he had worked with her on other projects like Boyz n the Hood (1991).
Pulp Fiction came out in 1994 and also starred Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel and Amanda Plummer. Samuel L. Jackson has starred in over 100 movies, but Pulp Fiction was the turning point in his acting career. Jackson had a minor role in 1988’s Coming To America as a “hold-up” man in their version of McDonald’s, while Pulp Fiction‘s opening scene is a hold-up in a restaurant that Jackson happens to be in (We love cinematic parallels). In 1990, Jackson played another minor role in the Martin Scorsese classic, Goodfellas as Stacks Edwards.
As we reported last year, Jackson ranked the top five movies he has starred in while appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, which are all from the late ’90s. Pulp Fiction didn’t make the list, but the films he listed all came after that major breakthrough. His top five are: 1996’s The Long Kiss Goodnight and A Time To Kill, 1997’s Jackie Brown, 1998’s The Red Violin, and 1997’s ONE EIGHT SEVEN.