Pam Grier Says Quentin Tarantino Forced Her To Change

According to Pam Grier, Quentin Tarantino forced her to slow down her dialogue pace significantly during the making of Jackie Brown.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Pam Grier Quentin Tarantino

When it first came out, the Quentin Tarantino movie Jackie Brown (starring legendary Pam Grier) baffled fans who were expecting it to be more like Pulp Fiction, but the movie has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Perhaps this is why Grier recently opened up about some of the difficulties she had working with Tarantino upon its 25th anniversary. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, she said she was instructed by the director “to slow my pace down to avoid revealing that I’m planning a scheme,” and concluded that the need to alter her dialogue pacing as an actor is “why you’re exhausted when you work with Quentin Tarantino and his characters!”

One reason that Pam Grier was surprised by the special instructions of Quentin Tarantino is that she was very familiar with his most famous movie at the time: Pulp Fiction. In that movie, Samuel L. Jackson speaks in a fast and precise manner that Tarantino described as “a metronome-like quality that’s really fast,” but since she would be acting alongside Robert Forster, she would have to deliver lines much slower. And the characteristically-blunt Tarantino warned Grier that “not all actors can do that.” 

While the demands and warnings of Quentin Tarantino may sound extreme, Pam Grier understands that it was all in service of the script. Her titular character is planning a clean getaway with a small mountain of smuggled cash, but she needs the help of Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to pull everything off. Cherry is supposed to be a character who can “smell” if someone is lying, so Jackie Brown slows down the pace of her speech in order to convincingly fool Cherry (which also illustrates what a smooth operator she is).

pam grier quentin tarantino
Pam Grier and Robert Forster in Jackie Brown (1997)

While Pam Grier is honest about the difficulties of working with Quentin Tarantino, she was very grateful for the opportunity to take on the starring role. Neither she nor Tarantino saw this as just another gig. Instead, Tarantino wrote the script from the ground up with her in mind for the lead, going so far as to fill the script with personal details that reflected Grier’s life and her career.

And make no mistake: Pam Grier is quite happy with her time working with Quentin Tarantino. In the interview, she said that starring in this particular film was a “master class in filmmaking,” and that collaborating with Tarantino made her passionate about someday getting in the director’s chair. Like Tarantino, it seems Grier wants to write and direct her own films, and she disclosed in the interview that she has now finished a script for a movie set during World War II.

Ultimately, it looks like the collaboration between Pam Grier and Quentin Tarantino was very beneficial to both of the Hollywood heavyweights. As Grier has described, she learned much about both acting and directing while she brought the character of Jackie Brown to life. Meanwhile, Tarantino got to show the world his range and flexibility as a director, and now that Jackie Brown is celebrating its 25th anniversary, it may be time to acknowledge this was the finest film he ever made.