Quentin Tarantino is casting veteran actress Pam Grier Jackie Brown was some inspired casting from the director. Tarantino thought he was hiring Grier his film would influence his film the way John Wayne influenced his westerns.
Tarantino’s original goal in Jackie Brown was to do the work of his source material as faithfully as he could. Jackie Brown was adapted from the novel by Elmore Leonard Rum punch. But when adjusting Rum punch, there were certain liberties Tarantino had to take with the material. For example, the title character was a white character in Leonard’s famous novel. But Tarantino had trouble finding other white actors who matched his vision of Jackie.
“I started thinking about who Jackie Brown might be, knowing the qualities she must have; she had to be 44 but look like she was 34; She had to look great, and she had to look like she could handle anything. When I wrote down various white actresses because it was a white character in the novel, some of the people I thought could be good were too young,” Tarantino once told The Guardian. “It’s standard procedure; They would make her 35. I didn’t like that at all.”
But it was Tarantino’s brainstorming that led him to Grier.
“I thought Pam was perfect for the role,” he said. “She’s just the right age now. She looks younger and she looks like she can handle anything. This turned it into a Pam Grier film. Nothing wrong with that.”
Tarantino felt Jackie Grier would only help the film in the long run.
Tarantino stood by his casting of Grier, who he believed was just as iconic as any other well-known actor. Tarantino felt that Grier could have the impact in his film that John Wayne had in his westerns.
“To a certain extent, it’s like casting John Wayne in a movie,” he said of choosing Grier. “You’re casting John Wayne in a western, you’re not just dealing with this unknown character walking in there that you have to learn about. Some viewers will, but that’s not where I’m from. John Wayne has a whole past behind him, and his past is built on these other films.”
Tarantino considered the kind of story Wayne brought to his film roles. But luggage wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Grier added Jackie Brown.
“Some luggage can be very, very good. In my mind, in casting Pam, I referred to it as a Pam Grier movie, but it was a more grounded Pam Grier movie,” he explained.
Grier had more than a pleasant experience working with Tarantino. But as Tarantino is known with his actors, the filmmaker helped push Grier out of her comfort zone as a performer. The director insisted that Grier speak his dialogue a certain way for narrative purposes. Something Tarantino thought Grier might have trouble with.
“That’s what Quentin told me [Samuel L. Jackson] had a metronome-like quality that’s really fast, but I’d have to slow down for Robert [Forster]’ she said in a recent interview with Yahoo. “He warned me that not all actors can do that, so I had to learn.”
Grier admitted that this was a little tiring but was nonetheless happy with the experience.
“Quentin said to slow my pace so as not to reveal I had a plan,” she continued. “Max knows people inside and out and knows when they’re fooling him – he can smell me when I’m lying. But I also need it, so it’s not cut and dried. That’s why you get exhausted when you work with Quentin Tarantino and his characters!”