Pam Grier talks Quentin Tarantino and 'Jackie Brown' Blu-ray

Jackie-Brown-Pam-Grier

Image Credit: Everett Collection

When you’ve already directed the best film of the ’90s, what can you possibly do for an encore? That was the dilemma Quentin Tarantino faced after he delivered Pulp Fiction. What he came up with was a two-and-a-half hour homage to ’70s Blaxploitation flicks called Jackie Brown, starring that grindhouse genre’s one-time kick-ass queen, Pam Grier. While Jackie Brown received mixed reviews when it hit theaters in 1997, anyone who’s seen the new Blu-ray edition of the film (which hits stores today) will agree that it’s aged like a fine wine. If anything, it’s a better film today than it was nearly a decade and a half ago now that our post-Pulp expectations have been scaled back. The main reason it works so well is Grier’s powerhouse performance.

We spoke with Grier recently to hear how she landed the role and what she thinks about it 14 years later. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When was the last time you saw Jackie?
PAM GRIER: Two weeks ago. I was curious to revisit it however many years later. It’s been on television a lot. I can’t go to the gas station any more to fill up my tractor because people are like, “You’re our neighborhood superstar!”

Wait…your tractor?!
I live in Colorado. I have a tractor, John Deere. I have to rake the pastures. Two days ago we stocked a couple tons of bales of hay. It’s about 30 bales per ton. My family is rural. I have horses.

You mention that so many people recognize you from Jackie Brown, but it’s actually one of Tarantino’s less-seen films.
People think he just went from Pulp Fiction to Inglourious Basterds. They don’t know he made a movie with a woman!

Tell me about how you first met Quentin and how he cast you in the film…
We bumped into each other on the street in L.A. Highland Boulevard. He said he was working on his version of one of my old films, Foxy Brown, for me. And he said as soon as he finished it he would send it to me. And lo and behold, he found me. I was in New York and he sent me the script, but he didn’t put enough postage on it and it was sitting at the post office. It had 44 cents due. I kept getting these notices from the post office saying that I had an envelope from Los Angeles with 44 cents due. And I’m thinking, it must be a mattress advertisement or something. After the third notice, I said, Okay, I’ll pay the 44 cents and they brought me this envelope that had ‘QT’ written in the upper lefthand corner. Inside was Jackie Brown.

That must be the best 44 cents you ever spent…
Right! What an investment! It was fabulous. I was speechless. And when I finally called him he said he’d been waiting nervously for two weeks. He thought I didn’t like it because I didn’t get right back to him.

What did you think of the part he wrote for you?
Well, when I was reading it, I actually thought I’d be playing the Bridget Fonda role. Usually the sistas play the drug addict and she dates a black character [played by Samuel L. Jackson in the film] so it just made sense to me that it would be a black woman. I didn’t think there’d be an interracial couple in it. But it’s QT! So I called him up and told him about the 44 cents. It’s funny because the envelope had a lot of stamps on it — he really licked all these little stamps and put them on the envelope himself! He’s probably got mega-gazillions of dollars and he’s licking all these little stamps! You gotta respect that! Anyway, I told him I thought the Bridget Fonda role was fantastic and he goes, No, I want you to play Jackie Brown! I’m sure he was thinking, Is she really this dense?!

I recently read your memoir, Foxy, and was surprised by what a colorful life you’ve had.
Thanks! It’s actually going to be a film.

Are you going to play yourself?
Hell, no! I couldn’t go through that again! I would be in therapy forever.

Comments (31 total) Add your comment
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  • Chris

    A fantastic lady, and a fantastic movie! The most honest Tarantino movie, and in my opinion, his best. I’m glad it’s getting some additional recognition.

    • Rowzdower

      It’s definitely Quentin’s best film.

  • Flip

    Just saw this film for the first time a few months ago. I didn’t really get it, but Pam Grier gave a stand-out performance.

  • Meier

    My money’s on Zoe Saldana for the ‘Foxy’ adaptation.

    • Lauren

      Please no! There have got to be other women of color who can do this role better than her!

    • Brett

      I love Zoe, but she’s all wrong to play Pam Grier.

  • BBixler

    I thought this movie was ok when it came out, but upon a second viewing I soon realized how freakin fantastic it is. If it is on tv I will stop everything and watch it. Grier, Forster, Fonda, Jackson, and De Niro are at their best!

  • MultiPass

    I always loved this movie. I am glad to to hear it’s getting a better second look. Totally underrated. And Pam Grier is AWESOME.

  • Nathan

    The only reason this movie was overlooked when it came out was because everyone compared it to Pulp Fiction. It’s nice that it can now be seen as it’s own thing and not the follow up to Pulp.

    • Darren

      Actually, it was the plot holes that sank it.

    • DeJesus

      I love Pulp Fiction, but Jackie Brown was better. I even thought so at the time, a very mature work.

  • Brad Adien

    The scenes with Grier and Robert Forrester were so lovely I actually believed Tarantino was capable of more than violent adolescent schlock. Oh well.

  • The Chew!

    In some ways, Jackie Brown is my favorite QT movie. It’s so incredibly understated and modest compared to Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, the two QT films that preceded it. Pam Grier and Robert Forster give the performances of their lives. I wish more people had seen it.

  • Billy

    I completely agree that this movie gets better with each repeat viewing. Probably my favorite Tarantino flick.

  • mike a

    Next to the Kill Bill flicks, Jackie Brown is my fav QT film experience. You know what? I‘m going to watch Jackie B yet again. I Love it so much.

  • sarah d

    I loved this movie so much I bought the original two disc special edition. It’s my favorite QT movie, can’t wait to buy it again on Blue Ray.

  • tigger851

    AK47, when you absolutely positively have to kill every mother—– in the place!!!

    • Laura

      ^This

  • Ben

    Pam Grier is great, but the movie itself is just all right – several plot holes/inconsistencies.

  • K. Brady

    I just recently posted on my facebook about my gazillon viewing of Jackie Brown. I watch every time it’s on TV when I’m flipping through the stations. For those who know me, it surprises them that it is one of my favorites. Having them respone to a movie that one would not think they would love..

  • Jay

    A great movie, filled with terrific performances. My Blu-ray arrived at my home today, and I am very excited to watch it as soon as I get home.

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