VINCENT: Marvin, what do you make of all this?
MARVIN: Man, I don’t even have an opinion.
Seconds later, Marvin’s shot in the face.
Phil LaMarr is the actor behind the blown up brains in Pulp Fiction and as the recent Vanity Fair article pointed out, “Without Marvin, we would have never met the Wolf [Harvey Keitel], we’d miss Jules [Samuel L. Jackson] asking Brett [Frank Whaley], “English motherfucker! Do you speak it?!,” and Tarantino would have never made a cameo.”
LaMarr met Quentin Tarantino when acting with The Groundlings [improv group] in Los Angeles. A few months later, he was auditioning for the role.
I got to audition with the Jules-and-Brett hamburger scene, which is just—I mean, come on, that’s like a fundamental point at the playground.
Reading the script, you knew it was a very small part. But I also knew they couldn’t cut me out. You cut me out, you lose a third of the script. It’s like, “Why are they covered in blood? No one knows.”
In the original script Marvin is shot twice. First, as an accident but he doesn’t die so Vincent shoots him intentionally to finish him off.
We had a rehearsal a few weeks before shooting started, and it was just me, John Travolta, Sam Jackson, Quentin, and Sam, the A.D. And when I walked in, John Travolta goes [as Travolta], “Aw man, I gotta kill him? The audience is gonna hate me.” I believe he and Quentin decided that if he had to actively kill me, it would negatively effect the audience’s relation to his character. And I think he was right. It’s a really subtle difference, the fact that he does it accidentally. Travolta and Tarantino just had this sense that killing me intentionally was going to be over the line. I guess they decided it changed the way these hit men are portrayed.
LaMarr, as well as the rest of the cast were eager to be a part of Pulp.
You knew it was gonna be great. But there are a lot of great things that don’t wind up being commercially successful. But nobody cared. That’s why they were able to do it for $8 million. I’m sure everybody on that cast read that script and said, “What do I have to do to be a part of this?
By the third time I read through my scene, I had it memorized. There’s no effort involved. The words flow. You don’t have to work to memorize it, because the thing you’re saying is the thing that comes naturally. It’s just so exquisitely written.”
Watch Pulp Fiction, part of The Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection, which celebrates Tarantino’s 20 years of filmmaking. Pick up yours today.