In a live Q&A with Pam Grier, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Forster, and Lawrence Bender posted to The Guardian in 1998, Grier was initially blunt about why she didn’t pass the audition. “I was too tall,” she said. “Eric [Stoltz] was short.”
According to Tarantino, it was a little more complicated than that: “It is just a situation where she came in and gave a great reading, but I wanted it to be right, I wanted it to be perfect.” Grier ultimately concurred:
“I felt I really needed a compatibility with Eric, and you had already cast him. You already knew him and felt his beats and rhythm, and he really needed to see a chemistry with us. I didn’t give him what he needed, which was great because Quentin said, ‘I still want to work with her’ and it was to my advantage, possibly, maybe subliminally.”
I’ll say. Tarantino has made six movies since “Jackie Brown” (we count “Kill Bill” as one movie in this dojo), but his collaboration with Grier is still his finest hour as a filmmaker. It’s a wise and sad movie about getting old and realizing there aren’t a lot of moves left before it’s checkmate. Grier and Forster (as world-weary bail bondsman Max Cherry) have a sensational chemistry from their first scene together. We dearly want these two to run off together, but they’re both too settled in their lives to shake things up. It’s one of the greatest unconsummated romances in film history, one that aches just a little more with each viewing. I can’t hear Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” and not let out a deep, melancholy sigh.