EXCLUSIVE: Rosanna Arquette Talks 'Pulp Fiction' Blu-ray

Quentin Tarantino's decade defining classic arrives for the first time in Hi-Def, available this Tuesday, October 4th.
Rosanna Arquette talks Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray
Rosanna Arquette talks Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray
Director Quentin Tarantino became an international icon with Pulp Fiction, his 1994 follow-up to Reservoir Dogs. The movie went onto define that particular decade in film, and stands as a work of true art that continues to serve as an inspiration to modern day cinema. On October 4th, this genre shattering classic, with its cool dialogue and hip pop cultural references, finally gets the hi-def treatment, as it arrives on Blu-ray for the first time. To celebrate this long-awaited release, we caught up with actress Rosanna Arquette to reminisce about her role as Jody, the piercing enthusiast who stands by while Vincent Vega (John Travolta) revives Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) with that iconic needle to the heart. Its one of the most remembered scenes in a movie chock-full of memorable scenes.

Here is our conversation.

Do you feel that Pulp Fiction is truly the defining movie of the 90s?

Rosanna Arquette: Oh, absolutely. You know what? It might even be that way on Blu-ray, with all these new kids discovering it. I have a teenager, and all of her guy friends are loving this movie. They hadn't seen it before. It's going to have a whole new audience.

The most striking thing about this Blu-ray is that it really showcases the way in which Quentin Tarantino shot the movie. The colors and the lighting, and the cinematography are timeless. It doesn't feel dated...

Rosanna Arquette: He has always been one of those great directors. He has always had such a great eye. I just watched Inglourious Basterds for the third time. You just have to keep watching it, because you always discover new things. That's what I think is so great about him as a director.

The episodic nature of all his films make them more accessible. You can pick up with it at any point once you've already seen it...

Rosanna Arquette: Right, right! How many times have you seen Pulp Fiction?

I was in college when it came out, and we must have seen it at least twenty times.

Rosanna Arquette: You never get sick of it. It's like one of those great albums. You can put it on at any time, and you just want to watch it again, and again.

I remember my friend in college got the VHS tape early, before it was in rental stores. He locked himself in his dorm room, and just watched it on a loop. He must have sat in there and watched it for two days straight, no lie. It was a phenomenon at the time. We thought he was nuts...

Rosanna Arquette: Is he a filmmaker? Did he want to be a filmmaker?

{bold|Yes. We were all in film school at the time. Of course, our Professor at the time didn't like the movie. In fact, I think he loathed it.

Rosanna Arquette: Of course he did. What was his reasoning?

I think you can name just about everything in the movie. He didn't like the fact that it was not in chronological order. He didn't like the violence. He was an old, grumpy guy...

Rosanna Arquette: That's why he was a teacher, yeah? He never got to do it for himself.

One of the things he told we could never do is take an actual person, an actor, and write them into a script. That was against all rules. Then you have a movie like John Malkovich come out, and all those movies that followed. His head must have exploded...

Rosanna Arquette: I love that movie, Being John Malkovich. That is so funny. I believe that you can do anything on film. That is freedom. You need to express your art. Hopefully its good.

This was a guy who grew up in the forties and fifties. He was set in his ways. It's rather bad to have a teacher that isn't open to new ideas. He was impossible to inspire. But we loved the guy...

Rosanna Arquette: What school was that?

Southern Oregon University, in Ashland, Oregon...

Rosanna Arquette: It's probably good that you didn't listen to him.

(Laughs) Right? Now, I have to ask you about shooting your scenes in the movie. You have, what is perhaps, the most iconic scene in a movie stuffed with iconic scenes from beginning to end...

Rosanna Arquette: Right! We had such a great rehearsal period. The rehearsal period is the most important thing for a director, if you can find the time. A lot of times, you just show up on the set, say your lines, and that's it. But Quentin Tarantino did Pulp Fiction like a play. Where every moment is thought out. When you rehearse, you can try things. You can go over the top, and if that doesn't work, or it does...Once you are ready to fly...We had this down to a science. It was so great. Once you have that locked in, you can try new things. Once we started shooting, it just came to me...This gigantic needle in her chest...This girl I was playing, Jody, she was really into piercings. So, of course that needle would be really exciting to her. I remember throughout shooting, her emotions became heightened. "Yeah! Pierce that heart!" Instead of being horrified by it, Jody was getting off on it. I discovered this as we were going along. Because we did have that full week of rehearsals. It was like a memory muscle. It came slowly. It was this creativity, because the moment was so open. Quentin Tarantino was able to open that in everybody.

Was that scene as intense on set as it is to watch? Also, was it as intense for you to watch that scene the first time you saw it, as it was for every single audience member that saw the movie on opening night?

Rosanna Arquette: Oh, gosh! The first time I watched it, I was seven months pregnant...Oh, no, no, no, no...I was nine months pregnant! I was about to give birth at the time. And it was simply too violent for me. I had to leave. I couldn't see it. I actually didn't see the movie for a couple of years. When you are carrying a baby, you want, "La, la, la, oh, nice energy!" You want good thoughts, and positive energy around this baby. Suddenly, it's this crazy thing. I had to apologize to Quentin Tarantino..."Quentin, I'm so sorry! I just can't watch it. It's too violent for me! Its too violent for my baby." Then when I finally saw it, I thought, "Oh, my god, this is such a great movie!" Isn't that funny?

Did you never get to experience the energy of seeing your scene with an audience? The couple of times I saw the movie in the theater, people were so quite, and then they about went through the roof...

Rosanna Arquette: No, I never have seen the movie with a big audience. I know they had to go to Cannes. I think I was working. Something was going on when it opened. I was pregnant. I couldn't fly. Something like that. I don't know what happened. It was in May, so I must have been working. But I didn't go to Cannes, and I only heard after words that it went over like wildfire.

Had you seen Reservoir Dogs prior to working with Quentin? Did you, at the time, know what he was capable of as a director?

Rosanna Arquette: Oh, yeah. I knew Quentin Tarantino through his writing. I had seen Reservoir Dogs. I knew he was a good director. But before that, before anyone knew who he was, there was this script going around called Mickey and Mallory, which ended up being Natural Born Killers. I had read that script. There was a point where, maybe, I was going to do that. This was a few years earlier. Maybe three years before. It had been sent to me, and this was even before Oliver Stone had it. I wanted to do that movie so badly. This was my most favorite script that I had ever read in my entire life. I thought it was so incredible. The writing in that. I thought, "Who is this guy?" Shortly after that, he made Reservoir Dogs. Then my sister made True Romance, which was also his screenplay. So, I really knew him as a writer first. As a writer-director, he is one of the best. I really hope that I get to work with him again sometime in the future.

Did your sister call you up an tell you about True Romance? Or was that something you experienced for the first time only after it was done shooting?

Rosanna Arquette: I knew she was doing this intense movie. She blew up at that time. She had just been discovered through that Sean Penn movie she did (The Indian Runner), and then this one really did it for her. She is so great it in.

True Romance really retains Tarantino's spirit as a screenwriter, more so than Natural Born Killers...

Rosanna Arquette: I think so, too. The original script for Natural Born Killers was just incredible. Oliver Stone changed it a lot. The original screenplay was unbelievable...

I remember that. In college, Tarantino was just so huge, and it was exciting, because we got that original script, and we poured over it in film class. I remember reading his original draft for Natural Born Killers, and it was crazy...

Rosanna Arquette: Wow, that is so great...

How do you think Quentin Tarantino has impacted cinema in the last twenty some years? Right out of the gate, he had a lot of imitators. But some of what he created has become the standard nowadays...

Rosanna Arquette: You tell me. Because I find this all very fascinating. He did change the art form in many ways. But you are the film student. How do you think he changed it?}

The way dialogue in a movie is written. He changed that whole landscape; what a conversation could mean within the context of a story. It was really irritating after awhile to hear all of these imitators. Suddenly, you had all of these kids in film class, and directors in mainstream cinema, that were doing that sort of minutia conversation dialogue that was riddled with pop culture references. They just couldn't nail his rhythms, or why he was so passionate through his characters about certain things. They had no ear for what he was doing. But now, after twenty years, people have taken that blueprint he created, and they've figured out new ways to make it work for them, yet it still has his 'vibe'. That was his, he did that. We see the Quentin Tarantino influence in so much today. And what was funny is that he, himself, had been inspired by so many films of the past...

Rosanna Arquette: And TV. This is a guy that loves TV. He grew up on television and film. He knows every bad television show that was on while he was growing up. He is a true professor of film. He studied, and studied. He was able to do this without going to film school. He didn't go...

I know the legend. He worked in a video store...

Rosanna Arquette: Yeah. And then he became this amazing director. He is the real deal. He was able to do things in a non-linear way. He was able to shake it up and move things around in his editing. You know, he lost his editor, Sally Menke. She passed away last year. That was horrible. She was the most amazing right hand for him. I am a little curious to see this new movie he is doing. Hopefully, it will be a protégé of hers. They were really a team.

Was she on set throughout the shooting of Pulp Fiction?

Rosanna Arquette: She was there. They worked so well together. She is part of the reason why...He is a great, great director. But behind the editing was this amazing woman. How she worked with him. Her editing was off the charts.

Yes. As much as Tarantino's dialogue influenced the way a conversation is sold through in modern day cinema, Sally Menke's editing style has influenced the pacing and tone, and the way stories are being told in today's thematic landscape. Her influences equal his in many ways...

Rosanna Arquette: Absolutely. I agree. It was a terrible loss. It was horrible.

You obviously weren't on set for a lot of the shooting when it comes to Pulp Fiction. What did you think when you saw some of the other crazy things going on in the movie? Did you have a favorite scene removed from the contributions you made to the film?

Rosanna Arquette: I love the dancing scene. With John Travolta and Uma Thurman.

There are just too many great moments in Pulp Fiction. I heard Samuel L. Jackson talking about the movie the other day. His favorite scene is "Say what again..." It's funny watching the movie now, because some of these guys weren't doing anything at the time, and this gave them a career resurgence that is still going strong today...

Rosanna Arquette: (Laughs) It was so great for John Travolta. Yeah, everyone had their moments after it came out.

I know you said you walked out of the film, but what was the one thought you had once you finally saw the whole thing?

Rosanna Arquette: Hey, don't write that I just walked out of the movie (laughs)! I was pregnant! Don't leave that out. She was kicking! I was like, "This is too violent for my baby!" You are really overly sensitive when you are pregnant. That is how you are. I didn't get to see the film for a long time. I was in this cloud of "first baby" for about two years. But my first thought...It was so powerful.

When we first started talking, you said that your kids are just now getting into the movie. What do they think? What is the impression kids have of the film today?

Rosanna Arquette: There is a whole new audience here, and they are loving it. I only have a daughter. But her guy friends are watching it, and they are all loving it. My daughter hadn't seen the film, either. She watched it recently. She goes, "That movie is really violent, mom...But it is great!" It is. It's a great film. That's what is so great about it finally coming out on Blu-ray right now. A whole new generation gets to discover it. People are going to see it again, and they will see that it still holds up. It will forever. It is just one of those movies that stands. Its one of the classics.

Pulp Fiction was released October 14th, 1994 and stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Phil LaMarr. The film is directed by Quentin Tarantino.


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Comments (1)

  1. Dan

    Must. Pick up. This Blu Ray...

    3 years agoby @dan1Flag