Michael Madsen has no regrets over turning down 'Pulp Fiction'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Quentin Tarantino and Michael Madsen (Credit: George Pimentel/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)

Long before the McConaissance, Pulp Fiction provided John Travolta with one of the most memorable career comebacks of all time.

One minute he was voicing a wise-cracking baby in the Look Who's Talking movies, and the next he's in a sharp suit brandishing a pistol and hanging around with Samuel L. Jackson.

But he wasn't the first choice for the role.

That honour went to frequent Quentin Tarantino collaborator Michael Madsen, who was set to play the hitman Vincent Vega.

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Crushingly, Madsen had already signed up to the Kevin Costner-starring western Wyatt Earp, playing Earp's brother Virgil, alongside the likes of Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid and Bill Pullman, so he had to pass.

Pulp Fiction (Credit: Miramax)

And while that's decent company, it wasn't really Pulp Fiction, the movie that went on to forge the careers of Travolta and Jackson and lend all involved a kudos that would last decades.

But for his part, Madsen has said that he has no regrets.

In the upcoming Tarantino documentary QT8: The First Eight, Madsen says: “I was already committed to Wyatt Earp. And now, here’s Quentin, wants me to do Pulp Fiction. And they were both going at the same time.”

Read more: Tarantino bristles at Margot Robbie question

He goes on to say that, in fact, the movie worked better with Travolta in the role and not him, as movie fans already knew Madsen for his role in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, in which he played the sadistic Mr Blonde (actually Vincent Vega's brother Vic in the larger Tarantino 'universe').

Michael Madsen (L) and John Travolta attend the HFPA Event, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Nikki Beach)

“Isn’t it true that part of John Travolta being in it, it became John’s comeback?” Madsen continues.

“He was doing movies about talking babies! And suddenly he’s Vincent Vega! He had that wig on. No one had seen Travolta with a f***ing gun. That’s a huge, huge, huge reason why the movie worked.”

Madsen went on to appear in a number of other Tarantino movies, including Kill Bill and The Hateful Eight, as well as bagging the cameo of Sheriff Hackett in his latest, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Reservoir Dogs (Credit: Miramax)

Meanwhile, Tarantino has long spoken about a potential Vega brothers movie that he's considered making over the years, a prequel to Pulp Fiction.

He told the Cinemablend podcast in July: “I had a premise. It would’ve taken place in Amsterdam, during the time Vincent was in Amsterdam. He was running some club for Marsellus Wallace in Amsterdam, he was there for a couple years.

“In some point during his two years spent running that club, Vic shows up to visit him and it would’ve been their weekend. Exactly what happened to them or what trouble they got into I never took it that far.”

Mind you, with that de-ageing technology from The Irishman, maybe it’s not out of the question entirely.