If there is one image that conjures an instant memory of the awesome force of nature that is Pulp Fiction, it's that of dual enforcers Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, played respectively by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, with their guns drawn at the ready. Yet for as iconic and planned a look as the two bad-assed had, there was one detail that was swapped by a last minute mix-up: Jules was supposed to have an Afro.
Yahoo picked up on the story, which was told during Jackson's recent appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and the reason behind the mix-up is something that could only happen on a Quentin Tarantino film. Jackson explained:
Well, Quentin’s a huge fan of blaxploitation films, so in his mind, Jules had this big Afro. And, unfortunately for him, he sent this young, white P.A. over to South Central to buy an Afro wig, and she bought a Jheri curl wig, thinking it’s an Afro wig.
Samuel L. Jackson later went on to recount how, despite Quentin Tarantino's disapproval, he felt the Jheri curl look was actually the better option. Jackson's main reason for backing the infamous hair style is the fact that legendary rap group N.W.A. was starting to bring the look into the public consciousness, and this mistake only gave Pulp Fiction a chance to jump onto that same wave and ride it into iconic image glory. It may have been a fluke back in 1994, but now it's an indelible piece of the film's iconography.
If Quentin Tarantino had insisted on the Afro look for Jules Winnfield, it would have risked turning the character from a bad ass into a cliché. By going with a lesser known look that was rapidly rising in popularity, Pulp Fiction's reputation for being a fresh, subversive masterpiece was cemented, right alongside Jules' famous "Ezekiel 25:17" speech in the first act. With an Afro, that character would have lost just a little bit of credibility, due to looking like any other Blaxsploitation character. But like the bullets that missed Jules and Vincent in their mission to retrieve Marsellus Wallace's briefcase, a keen form of divine intervention steered events towards the better outcome.
Much like the matching black suits of Reservoir Dogs, or The Bride's copy of Bruce Lee's jumpsuit in Kill Bill Vol. 1, Jules' Jheri curl will always have a place in the Quentin Tarantino Style Hall of Fame. So to the anonymous "young, white P.A" who bought that wig by mistake, we say a gracious thank you for inadvertently making movie history. And to all of you readers who are about to ask, yes - Pulp Fiction is available for streaming, on both Netflix and Amazon Prime.