A Disagreement Over Johnny Depp Landed Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction At Miramax

One of the sticking points between Mike Medavoy and Quentin Tarantino was the casting choice for Pumpkin, a character that bookends the film but who interestingly doesn’t play a major role throughout the rest of the story. According to the published rough cast list, Tarantino’s first choice was Tim Roth, but he did have backups in mind in case the actor turned down the role. Among the follow-up choices was Johnny Depp, whose bigger star power but lower list rank perplexed Medavoy. According to Tarantino in an interview with the podcast 2 Bears, 1 Cave, Medavoy wanted to prioritize Depp first and wasn’t even interested in signing on Roth. In rebuttal, Tarantino asked the producer if a more recognizable actor in a minor role would make a financial dent. In his own words, Tarantino questioned:

“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?”

Medavoy’s response? “It won’t add a dime but it would make me feel better.” The TriStar chairman┬áreportedly turned down the script for additional reasons, namely because he was uncomfortable with the scene when Vincent accidentally shot Marvin in the face. As it turns out, Medavoy had just discussed the issue of violence on screen with President Bill Clinton and wasn’t too keen on the darkly comedic and nihilistic depiction of a head explosion. Still, the casting disagreement demonstrates an example of how a minor fixation can plague a Hollywood executive and cause them to miss out on being a part of cinema history.

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