The Cast of 'Pulp Fiction,' Then and Now

8:15 AM 10/14/2019

by Emily J. Sullivan

Oct. 14 marks the 25th anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's cult classic.

The iconic Jack Rabbit Slim’s twist contest, a gnarly heroin overdose and some pawn shop bondage — Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 neo-noir crime drama, Pulp Fiction, has it all. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1994, where it scored the festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or. When it hit theaters Oct. 14 of that year, it became the top-grossing film at the box office in its debut weekend and ultimately the first indie film to surpass $100 million at the domestic box office (worldwide it raked in more than $213 million).

"Tarantino's lined up a fine cast to play his assorted snotwads, grimeballs, sleazoids, small-timers, druggies and bulletheads in this 1990s version of a down-and-dirty 1940s pulp fictioner, the kind Dash Hammett and the boys used to crank out," wrote The Hollywood Reporter film critic Duane Byrge in his review, originally published May 23, 1994.

Pulp Fiction became an instant cult classic and has held onto its Hollywood film prestige and place in the heart of pop culture. Now, 25 years later, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look back at the film’s cast — and what they've been up to in the years since the movie's release — and reminisces about Royales with cheese and extreme violence set to the tune of 1960s surf rock. 

  • John Travolta as Vincent Vega

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    After his breakout role in the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, Travolta rose to superstar status in the 1970s with his performances in Grease and Saturday Night Fever. After a series of box office disappointments during the 1980s, Travolta filmed Look Who's Talking, Look Who's Talking Too and Look Who's Talking Now alongside Kirstie Alley. When he was hired to star as the smooth, hip, heroin-shooting hitman Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, he was at a low point in his career and reportedly was paid only $150,000 for the role. His performance scored him an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role. After Pulp Fiction's success, Travolta went on to star in notable films such as Get Shorty, Face/Off, Primary Colors, The General's Daughter and, in his first musical since Grease, he starred in the 2007 remake of Hairspray as Edna Turnblad. Travolta also returned to television to play Robert Shapiro in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, which earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a limited series or movie. He also won shared the Emmy for best limited series as a producer. Most recently, Travolta played an obsessed fan in Fred Durst's thriller Fanatic.

  • Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield

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    Samuel L. Jackson played the hardass hitman who thunderously recited Bible verses just before he popped a cap in the ass of whomever his gun was aimed at as Ezekiel 25:17 came to a close. Pulp Fiction was Jackson’s 13th film, and the role of Jules was written specifically for him. Jackson told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year that his favorite line in the film was, "Do they speak English in 'What'?" He also appeared in many of Quentin Tarantino's other films, including True Romance, Jackie Brown, Django Unchained, Hateful Eight and Kill Bill: Vol. 2, as well as narrated Inglourious Basterds. Jackson has numerous television and film projects currently in the works and major roles in recent films such as Glass, Shaft and Captain Marvel, in which he reprised his role as Nick Fury, another character designed with Jackson in mind. 

  • Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace

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    Uma Thurman was only 24 years old when she starred in Pulp Fiction as Mia Wallace, the wife of gang boss Marsellus Wallace who seamlessly dances the twist, overdoses on heroin and takes a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart all in one night. Thurman received an Oscar nomination for best actress in a supporting role for her portrayal of Mrs. Mia Wallace. Following the film, she starred in Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2, as well as numerous other films and television series. Most recently, Thurman starred on Broadway in The Parisian Woman; she received mixed reviews from critics but won a Broadway.com Audience Award for favorite leading actress in a play. Mia Hawke, her daughter with ex-husband Ethan Hawke, followed in her famous parents' footsteps, starring in BBC's miniseries Little Women and in the third season of Netflix's Stranger Things

  • Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace

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    Ving Rhames portrayed the most badass of them all — Marsellus Wallace, the bandaged, bald-headed and ball-gagged crime boss who definitely went medieval on Zed after their encounter in the pawn shop basement. Rhames studied acting at the Juilliard School of Drama and appeared on Broadway before he began acting onscreen in various television shows and movies. Pulp Fiction is the film, though, that put Rhames on the map. Following the success of Pulp Fiction, Rhames starred in Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible II. He also had roles in numerous television shows and films, including Con Air, Entrapment and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and did voice acting in Lilo & Stitch. Most recently, Rhames has worked on the television show Gravity and reprised his role as Luther Stickell in the Mission: Impossible franchise in Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

  • Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge

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    Bruce Willis played southpaw boxer Butch Coolidge, who's expected to throw a match but decides he's no Palooka and delivers a killer knockout punch instead. Landing himself on Marsellus Wallace's hit list, Coolidge plans to flee town. In a wild turn of events, rather than escape Wallace, he sets out to save him with a hammer he grabs from the pawn shop — no, a baseball bat, or maybe a chainsaw — in finality, it was a samurai sword that did the trick. Willis first gained fame in the 1980s for his role as David Addison Jr. on Moonlighting, for which he scored an Emmy for leading actor in a drama series. He then shot to stardom when he played John McClane in Die Hard, asserting himself as a leading Hollywood action hero. After playing Butch in Pulp Fiction, Willis went on to star in critically acclaimed films such as Armageddon and The Sixth Sense. More recently, he’s starred in Cop Out and Looper, and in 2018, he was roasted on a Comedy Central special. 

  • Maria de Medeiros as Fabienne

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    Butch Coolidge's lady — or "lemon pie," as he calls her — is the sweet, blueberry pancake-loving Fabienne. Fabienne sets off a series of unfortunate events when she forgets to grab Butch's watch — the priceless and ever-enduring timepiece given to him by his father when he was a child. Fabienne is played by Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros. While de Medeiros has acted in Canadian, French, German, Spanish and Italian productions, she’s best known in America for her 1990s roles in Henry & June, where she starred alongside Uma Thurman, and Pulp Fiction. More recently, de Medeiros can be heard performing songs in the 2007 album A Little More Blue, in which she covers songs by Brazilian musicians and sings in English, French and Portuguese. In 2009, she was featured on another album, Femina, in which she sings a cover of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." Recently, she's acted in numerous productions such as the 2014 film Pasolini, alongside Willem Dafoe; the 2015 Canadian fantasy film The Forbidden Room; the 2016 Franco-Belgian film Le Fils de Joseph; and Netflix’s 2017 Brazilian Western The Killer

  • Tim Roth as Pumpkin

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    "Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!" Tim Roth's character, Pumpkin (or Ringo, depending upon who’s addressing him), opens Pulp Fiction with his girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Honey Bunny, sticking up a diner just before Dick Dale’s "Miserlou" kicks off the opening credits. Roth was known as one of the English actors who made up the "Brit pack" alongside other acting giants Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Daniel Day-Lewis. In 1992, he played Mr. Orange in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and then scored the role of Pumpkin in Pulp Fiction. Since then, he's been in three other Tarantino films — Four Rooms, The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood (although his scenes didn’t make the final cut) as well as numerous films and television series. Most recently, Roth had roles in the television series Tin Star as well as Twin Peaks; he also starred in the 2019 film Luce, alongside Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer.

  • Amanda Plummer as Honey Bunny

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    "Any of you fucking pricks move and I'll execute every motherfucking last one of you!" The lovey-dovey sweetheart of Pumpkin isn't so sweet when she's robbing a joint and responsible for crowd control. Amanda Plummer received an American Comedy Awards momination for her role as Honey Bunny. Since her memorable role, which both opened the film and closed it, she's been busy at work acting in television productions, in prominent theater roles and in film projects. More recently, she can be seen in the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the television series Hannibal and The Blacklist and on stage in The Night of the Iguana. She will also be a main character on Netflix’s upcoming series Ratched, alongside Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon and Sharon Stone, which is set to release in 2020 and is based on the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.