Laurence Fishburne turned down ‘Pulp Fiction’ due to its depiction of heroin

Gregory Wakeman
·Contributor
·2-min read
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 08: Laurence Fishburne attends the ABC Television's Winter Press Tour 2020 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 08, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)
Laurence Fishburne attends the ABC Television's Winter Press Tour 2020. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

As the star of Apocalypse Now, Boyz n the Hood, and The Matrix, Laurence Fishburne has undoubtedly had a rather stellar career.

But like every other mainstream actor, Fishburne has also turned down big roles in films that have gone on to be huge hits. During a recent interview with Vulture, the Oscar nominated star opened up about rejecting these roles, one of which was Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield, and he doesn’t actually have any regrets about doing so.

Fishburne said that he turned down the part because he “had a problem with the way the heroin use was dealt with,” which he felt was just “a little cavalier [and] loose.”

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“I felt like it made heroin use attractive. For me, it’s not just my character. It’s, ‘What is the whole thing saying?’…It wasn’t about my character in Pulp Fiction. It was about the way in which the heroin thing was delivered. And the whole f****** thing with the hypodermic and the adrenaline shot? No.”

Laurence Fishburne earned an Oscar nomination for his Pulp Fiction performance (Image by Miramax Pictures)
Laurence Fishburne earned an Oscar nomination for his Pulp Fiction performance (Image by Miramax Pictures)

The role of Winnfield was ultimately played by Samuel L. Jackson, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal. Fishburne clearly adores Jackson’s performance, too, saying that he “walks away with the movie.”

“Sam f****** sticks the movie in his pocket and walks away from it, walks into a f****** leading-man career. What are you talking about? It’s a great part.”

Fishburne also opened up about turning down the role of Radio Raheem in Do The Right Thing, saying that he found Spike Lee’s script “a little disingenuous.”

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“I just felt that if that pizzeria existed in the Black community in Brooklyn, that pizzeria was part of the community, and so even if there was a riot and even if there was racial tension, that it would not have escalated to the point where they’d just burn down the pizza parlour,” explained Fishburne.