Quentin Tarantino's cameo in Pulp Fiction has been widely panned. I have rewatched his scenes and I agree that it is a jarring performance – when Tarantino is on the screen it feels like the fourth wall has been cracked; when the camera returns to the "real" actors it feels like we are back in the movie and not just watching actors. But I can't explain: why?

Was there possibly a deliberate directorial decision behind the feel of these scenes being different? Is the audience meant to feel jarred by the change of location and/or viewpoint, perhaps? Could the fact that Jimmie is a seeming outsider to the life of the main characters possibly have something to do with it?

Has Tarantino or anybody else associated with the movie given any indication that the change of style/pace/feel of the scenes set at Jimmie's house is due to anything other than Tarantino's acting skill (or lack thereof)?

  • 3
    I'm torn by this - yes, Tarantino is a poor actor, but when he's in a movie you know it's Tarantino & don't expect anything else, so he's playing to type. There are also plenty of instances where a good actor is called upon to play a character who can't act - sometimes their observation is brilliant, sometimes only comedic [Joey Tribbiani, for e.g.]
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 11, 2021 at 18:07
  • Are there performances of his you think are genuinely good? Is your question "Is QT a "good actor" doing "bad acting?"" I don't think anyone really believes that. Do you think his performances in Four Rooms and From Dusk Till Dawn were intentionally bad and painful? What would be the motivation to seem like a bad actor? Jul 12, 2021 at 2:35
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    Writing “this isn’t opinion based” in a question doesn’t make it magically not opinion based. Good and bad are classic examples of things that are matters of opinion. The question of whether acting is hard is not opinion based - acting is very difficult and a demanding job. It’s no easier than playing an instrument in a professional symphony orchestra or playing on a sports team that wins the league. Jul 12, 2021 at 4:34
  • I read an interview with Sam Jackson back in the day. He certainly thought Tarantino was a bad actor.
    – Darren
    Jul 12, 2021 at 14:00
  • @Darren – Can you find a link to that interview? Having another professional explain why someone is a bad actor would be very illuminating!
    – feetwet
    Jul 12, 2021 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


According to CinemaBlend.com:

Robert Rodriguez Directed Quentin Tarantino's Scene In Pulp Fiction It's always good to have a friend. Ever since they premiered their debut films at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have been thick as thieves and frequent collaborators, resulting in notable team-ups like From Dusk Till Dawn and Grindhouse. They've also played a hand in each other's movies, unsurprisingly, with Tarantino directing a sequence in Sin City and Rodriguez calling the shots during Tarantino's scene in Pulp Fiction.

It's hard to pull off double duty, after all. While there are multi-taskers in Hollywood who can direct and act at once, including Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck, when you're as detail-orientated as Tarantino, it can be extremely challenging to do both jobs simultaneously. Thankfully, Rodriguez was there to ghost-direct Tarantino's memorable moment so that the filmmaker could focus squarely on his performance. Rodriguez is a good pal.

So, a different directorial vision means subtle differing feel for the scene, in general. The fourth wall was never explicitly broken during Pulp Fiction, including within this scene, and I don't really agree with your depiction of that scene, but that can be chalked up to our differing viewer experiences.


'Opinions are like assholes: everybody has one': Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan, 'The Dead Pool'.

Here's mine: Quentin Tarantino is not a bad actor; he plays limited character types. He's certainly fantastic at learning lots of lines, delivering them rapid fire and playing awkward types.

Given that he writes the scripts, all the words are in his authorial voice, so when he delivers the lines too, we're getting double that voice. Perhaps that's what makes it uncomfortable for some people to hear. I think because he writes them, he's so familiar with them and it enables him to rattle off lines quickly, lending his characters a nervous, shifty energy.

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