Pulp Fiction marked John Travolta’s resurgence after a decline in stardom throughout the 80s. The unconventional film directed by Quentin Tarantino has gained a cult following over the years and it is the first independent film to gross more than $100 million. The movie takes audiences into the lives of different characters in the Los Angeles criminal world, narrating the plot in a non-linear style.
Travolta played Vincent Vega, one of the hitmen working for a crime boss Marsellus Wallace. The Face/Off actor’s iconic scene in the movie is still remembered by fans, where he accidentally shoots a passenger in his car in the face.
John Travolta Intentionally Made His Line More Humorous
In the scene, John Travolta’s Vincent Vega and Samuel Jackson’s Jules Winnfield visit Brett, Wallace’s business partner who double-crossed him. The two hitmen are tasked with retrieving a briefcase and they kill everyone in Brett’s apartment, except Marvin, whom they take with them. During the ride back, Vincent and Jules engage in an argument, and Vincent turns to Marvin for an opinion, with a gun pointing at his face, and accidentally fires it.
Travolta revealed that the scene initially had a more serious tone. The Saturday Night Fever actor’s original dialogue was simply “I shot Marvin”. However, Travolta improvised the now iconic line, “Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face.” The Carrie actor explained that he wanted to lessen the intensity of his crime. The Get Shorty actor shared:
“In that scene I improvised. ‘I shot Marvin’ was the written word. What I asked permission to say is ‘I shot Marvin in the face’. And I knew the way I would say it would have humor because I would say it in a way like ‘I stepped on his toes’ or ‘knocked into him’ or something. I blew his head off, but ‘I shot him in the face’ is like I tried to make less of what I did. And it worked.”
Pulp Fiction later gained appreciation for this ironic blend of humor and violence. However, Quentin Tarantino initially had no intention to make a comedy film, though this combo later became his signature.
John Travolta Apologized To The Director For Making It A Comedy
John Travolta was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Vincent Vega. It also put him back into mainstream cinema with diverse roles. However, the Phenomenon actor’s decision to deliver lines with a humorous tone was questioned by the director. Quentin Tarantino wanted to make an out-and-out crime thriller, and he never thought comedy would work with this genre. Travolta disclosed:
“Quentin, he even said to me when the movie when the movie was done, ‘I didn’t know I was making a comedy’. And I said, ‘I’m sorry. It’s just the only way I can get through it.’”
The iconic scene left behind a number of open-ended questions that are discussed among fans even today. The questions range from why they decided to bring Marvin along to whether the killing was accidental or not. Fans have proposed several theories and Tarantino loves these discussions, which is why he intentionally left the scene open-ended.
You can enjoy John Travolta’s career-defining performance by streaming Pulp Fiction on Max.