When we think of Pulp Fiction, we immediately picture Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, delivering the iconic “Ezekiel 25:17” speech with his signature intensity. It is hard to imagine anyone else playing the role but according to Jackson himself, he was not initially thrilled with the character he was given.
In a recent interview, Jackson revealed that he had to be convinced to take on the part of Jules and that he had a lot of reservations about the role.
So, why was Jackson unhappy with his role as Jules Winnfield, and how did he come to embrace the character that would become one of his most iconic roles? Let’s take a closer look.
The Pressure of Success
During the production of “Pulp Fiction,” Jackson was already an established actor. But he had yet to achieve the level of success that the film would ultimately bring him. As a result, he felt a lot of pressure to deliver a performance that would match the high expectations of director Quentin Tarantino and the rest of the cast.
However, when he first read the script, he was not sure that Jules was the right character for him. In fact, he tried to convince Tarantino to let him play the role of Vincent Vega instead. Similarly, the director of the 1995 film had envisioned Laurence Fishburne as Jules.
The Challenge of Playing a Hitman
Another reason why Jackson was hesitant to take on the role of Jules was because he felt uncomfortable with the character’s profession. Jules is a hitman, and as an actor, Jackson had never played a character with that kind of job before.
He was concerned that he would not be able to portray the character convincingly and that he might even be seen as glorifying violence. However, Tarantino insisted that Jackson was the right person for the role, and eventually, he agreed to take it on.
Embracing the Role
Once Jackson had committed to playing Jules, he threw himself into the role with his usual intensity. He spent a lot of time working on the character’s unique speech patterns and mannerisms, and he even brought in his own wardrobe to help develop Jules’s distinctive look.
As he got deeper into the role, he started to see the character’s complexities. Thus, he began to appreciate the opportunity to play such a complex and interesting character.
By the time of the film’s release, Jackson had fully embraced the role of Jules Winnfield, and audiences and critics alike fell in love with his performance. The character’s famous speech became one of the most quoted movie moments of all time, and Jackson’s portrayal of Jules helped make “Pulp Fiction” the classic it is today.
Looking back, it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. Thus, it is clear that Jackson’s initial doubts were unfounded.