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Marsellus' rape almost kept Uma Thurman from starring in 'Pulp Fiction'

It's a shockingly graphic scene: "Pulp Fiction" character Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) is raped over a pommel horse by creepy Zed, while a leather-clad Gimp keeps an eye on Butch (Bruce Willis). (Butch eventually breaks free and kills one of the rapists, while the other faces the unimaginable threat of some of Marsellus' pals "getting medieval" on him.)

Andrew Kelly / REUTERS file

Uma Thurman worked with Quentin Tarantino in his 1994 hit "Pulp Fiction," and attended the premiere of his latest film, "Django Unchained," in 2012.

And that scene almost kept star Uma Thurman, then just 23, from acting in the 1994 film, she tells Vanity Fair in an upcoming issue.

"I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, because I was worried about the Gimp stuff," she says in the article. "We had very memorable, long discussions about male rape versus female rape. No one could believe I even hesitated in any way. Neither can I, in hindsight."

The rape scene may have been hard to watch, but Thurman also told the magazine that it was her famous dance with John Travolta that made her the most nervous, "because I was so awkward and embarrassed and shy."


Director Quentin Tarantino wanted the couple to do the Twist, but dance fiend Travolta suggested they work the moves of other novelty dances into the scene.

The article also discusses how every major studio passed on the film, which of course became a huge hit, and how once it was picked up, Miramax studio head Harvey Weinstein didn't want John Travolta cast. (Can you imagine the film with Daniel Day-Lewis in the Vincent Vega role?)

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The film is credited with reviving Travolta's career, and the article notes that Weinstein later jokingly said, "I’m so glad I had the idea to cast John Travolta.”

The full article appears in Vanity Fair's February issue.

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