Study Guide

Pulp Fiction Screenwriter

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Roger Avary

Assuming you've seen a movie in the last twenty years, you know who Quentin Tarantino is. But you might not be so familiar with Roger Avary.

Avary worked with Lance Lawson, owner of the famous California video rental store Video Archives. He helped write the initial database for the store that eventually became a well-known hangout of the hardcore movie lovers of the area. While working at Video Archives, Avary met a fellow movie geek named Quentin Tarantino, and the two hit it off and became friends, eventually beginning to think about making their own movies together instead of obsessing over other people's.

The two set out to write a three-part crime movie which never fully manifested. Tarantino's script was revised and eventually transformed into Reservoir Dogs while Avary's was sidelined for the time being. After Reservoir Dogs' release, the friends got together again to write a Black Mask movie, titled after the crime/detective magazine. Avary met Tarantino in Amsterdam where he was working on the script as well as touring the European film circuit with Reservoir Dogs. (That sheds some light on Vincent Vega's stay in Amsterdam and all the funny, anecdotal things he shares with Jules.)

Avary's original script was the origin of the Gold Watch story, and some of Avary's scenes originally written for Tarantino's True Romance screenplay found their way into The Bonnie Situation (the miraculous misses and Marvin's death scenes). Avary was originally credited as a co-writer, but Tarantino wanted to advertise the movie as "written and directed by" himself and convinced Avary to just take the credit for "story by."

Avary got some prankster revenge by paying a cameraman at the Oscars $500 to black out Quentin's face if they won, since he knew that's where the cameras would go. If you watch the broadcast, you'll see the screen go black for a couple of seconds after the winners are announced, and then the shot goes right to Avary's face as he heads up to receive the award.


Both Avary and Tarantino have stayed in the movie business since Pulp Fiction. You might know Avary for some of his adaptations like Rules of Attraction, Silent Hill, and the beloved, fully animated, and incredibly source-accurate, Beowulf. Tarantino went on to write films like Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and the multi-Oscar-winning Django Unchained, films known for their unusual take on violence and brilliant, quirky dialogue.

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