Quentin Tarantino’s movies have attracted some huge stars over the years from Samuel L Jackson to Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Yet did you know Johnny Depp could have ended up in one of them? This was back in his indie movie 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 greatest movies ever made.
After writing the Oscar-winning screenplay, the filmmaker set about penning a big list of names who could potentially play key roles in the film.
Speaking with 2 Bears, 1 Cave podcast, the 59-year-old said: “On the internet there’s a thing floating around about my wish list of the cast of Pulp Fiction, it’s kind of floating around and it’s not. It’s not that, not really. I didn’t know exactly who I wanted to play this part or that part, so I wrote a giant list with a ton of names. I wanted to get them all pre-approved sure and I didn’t know if it’s gonna work out, if I would like vibe with the person or if they would even do a good job but I wanted to get them approved…It’s kind of all over the place but that was kind of the idea, I wanted to be able to explore it and go all over the place but then I’m also really very opinionated.” And this is where Depp came in.
On Tarantino’s list was Depp as the third choice to play Pumpkin, Tim Roth’s character from the opening and closing diner scenes of the movie. 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 submitted his list to the studio, they wanted to know why Depp was in third behind Roth, one of the stars of Reservoir Dogs. In fact, they told him they wouldn’t be offering the part to the latter until three others had turned it down first. 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 that will add that much to the box office?”
It turns out they didn’t, but at the time many studios did think having a big star would help a movie even if critics panned it. Of course, in the end, Pulp Fiction didn’t need the future Captain Jack star after all.