Quentin Tarantino’s movies have attracted huge stars over the years, from Samuel L Jackson to Leonardo DiCaprio to Brad Pitt. However, did you know that Johnny Depp could have ended up in one of them? This was in his independent film days long before Captain Jack Sparrow was even thought of.
The film in question was Tarantino’s second as a director, 1994’s Pulp Fiction. The crime thriller starred Jackson, John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman in what would go down as one of the best movies ever made.
After penning the Oscar-winning screenplay, the filmmaker set about writing a long list of names who could play key roles in the film.
Speaking to the 2 Bears, 1 Cave podcast, the 59-year-old said: “There’s something floating on the internet about my Pulp Fiction cast wish list, it’s floating and it’s not. It’s not that, not really. I didn’t know exactly who I wanted to play this or that role, so I wrote a giant list with a bunch of names. I wanted everyone to be pre-approved and I didn’t know if it would work, if I would like to vibe with the person or even if they would do a good job, but I wanted to get them approved… It’s a bit all over the place, but that was the idea, I wanted I can explore it and go everywhere, but I’m also very stubborn.” And this is where Depp came in.
On Tarantino’s list was Depp as the third choice to play Pumpkin, Tim Roth’s character in the film’s opening and closing scenes. The future Pirates star was also considered for Lance, a role that would go to original Marty McFly actor Eric Stoltz.
Now, when the director sent his list to the studio, they wanted to know why Depp was third behind Roth, one of the stars of Reservoir Dogs. In fact, he was told that the latter would not be offered the role until three others had first turned it down. But the filmmaker had a comeback.
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Tarantino asked them, “Do you think Johnny Depp playing the role of Pumpkin in this movie, which is the opening scene and the closing scene, that’s it, do you think it will add so much to the box office?”
As it turns out, they didn’t, but at the time many studios thought that having a big star would help a movie even if critics blasted it. Of course, in the end, Pulp Fiction didn’t need future star Captain Jack after all.
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