Search icon

Movies & TV

25th Nov 2015

JOE’s Film Flashback: True Romance (1993)

True Romance

Colm Boohig

JOE’s Spoiler Series… True Romance

Welcome to JOE’s Film Flashback, where we take you behind the scenes of some of the finest motion pictures ever made. This is your *SPOILER ALERT* warning, no more excuses now.

Ready? Then follow us as we find out all there is know about a cult action drama from 1993, True Romance.

JOE's Film Flashback NEW ya

Title: True Romance

Director: Tony Scott

Irish release date: November 5, 1993

Worldwide box office: $24,741,100

Irish certificate rating: 18

Tag Line: ‘Not since Bonnie and Clyde have two people been so good at being bad.’

Clip via Movieclips Trailer Vault

Plot’s it all about?

True Romance was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by the late Tony Scott. Its premise is quite simple; a young and naive couple – Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) – stumble onto a briefcase full of drugs, look to sell it, but instead run into all manner of bother.

However, where the movie really stands out is in its plethora of memorable, almost unconnected, scenes and a truly amazing ensemble cast. Slater, Arquette, Walken, Hopper, Oldman, Pitt, Kilmer, Gandolfini, Jackson and many more are there to get in on what looked like a right hoot to film.

With the synopsis sorted, here is some lovely trivia about this cult-classic gem…

Quentin Tarantino wasn’t famous enough to direct his own movie

Arguably the most renowned director in the business today, Tarantino took years to get noticed for his writing.

He had finished the screenplay for both Reservoir Dogs and True Romance but couldn’t get any director to take him seriously.


That was until an old friend of his began working with the late Tony Scott and eventually convinced the Englishman to read both scripts.

Scott, a notoriously slow reader, got through each movie on a flight to Europe and immediately wanted to direct both films. Tarantino said he could choose one. The rest is history.

Love and rivalry was in the air on set

Competition was fierce to land the roles of Clarence and Alabama, particularly the latter.

While Christian Slater was a big star at the time (although not first choice for Clarence, as we’ll see in a bit), the likes of Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis and Julia Roberts were all initially considered, before Patricia Arquette won the part.

The decision was inspirational as the real life sexual tension between the pair was quickly apparent.


As the movie was shot in sequence, those involved recall how Slater and Arquette actually fell for each other as filming progressed, with neither acting on it due to existing real life commitments.

Meanwhile, Scott was so moved by the evolution of his lead characters that he changed the whole ending of the moving. This was much to Tarantino’s initial chagrin, though he was soon convinced of the director’s merits to alternate the conclusion.

WESTWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 26: Director Tony Scott arrives at the premiere of Twentieth Century Fox's "Unstoppable" at Regency Village Theater on October 26, 2010 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

A quick Google will unveil the originally planned climax of True Romance.

Tarantino reckons the infamous Sicilian scene is his best ever

Rarely does over ten minutes of pure dialogue leave an audience speechless and the Pulp Fiction director credits this as his finest ever moment.

The subject matter of the scene is derived from a conversation overheard by Tarantino in a diner, however, filming the words proved a little less straightforward.


Both Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper constantly cracked up laughing during the rehearsals. To remedy this persistent problem, Scott filmed all of Hopper’s lines on one day, followed by Walken’s the next. The result was flawless.

Clip via ImBigOnReddit

Incidentally, Liam Neeson and Robert Forster were both in the running for Walken’s role as Vincenzo Coccotti, while his boss, referred to in the scene as Blue Lou Boyle, was supposed to be played by a certain Robert De Niro, but scheduling conflicts meant that this never occurred.

Brad Pitt turned down the lead role to create his own side character

At the time, Pitt was a rising star thanks to his turn in Thelma & Louise. When he rang up Tony Scott to request a part in the movie, the British director couldn’t believe his luck and immediately offered Pitt the lead role.

The Hollywood heartthrob had other ideas though, opting instead to play Floyd; Clarence’s best friend’s housemate who only had a handful of scenes.


Inspired by a former real life roommate of his, Pitt designed the whole look of his character and improvised the vast majority of his lines, as demonstrated in this scene with another star in the making, James Gandolfini.

Clip via Poseable Jesus

The character of Floyd even went as far as to inspire a whole movie – 2008’s Pineapple Express and James Franco’s turn as Saul Silver.


James Gandolfini got REALLY into his character

The relatively unknown actor only won the part when Tom Sizemore turned it down to play the crazy cop Cody and recommended that his friend replace him.

His only major contribution was the brutal interrogation and beating of Arquette’s Alabama.

The future Sopranos star got into character by living, as a recluse, in an extremely seedy hotel, refusing to shower for days at a time and also neglecting to change his underwear – all to embrace the grubbiness of his character.


He even went as far as trying to convince Arquette to stab him for real in the foot with a corkscrew during their fight scene. Arquette, who would frequently request that director Scott slap her in the face before scenes to get her pumped up, couldn’t bring herself to really wound Tony Soprano.

Now, you can picture all that when watching this clip.

Clip via Adam Ritz

Gary Oldman didn’t even read the script before accepting the role as the pimp, Drexl

The story goes that Oldman met with compatriot Scott, True Romance script in hand, and confessed to having not read the screenplay. When asked what the role of Drexl was all about, the director simply stated, “Look, I can’t really explain the plot. But Drexl’s a pimp who’s white but thinks he’s black.”

That was all that Oldman needed to hear.


Taking up less than ten minutes of the movie, his main sparring partner, Slater, was said to be visibly in awe of his peer during the filming of their stand-off scene.

Tarantino was so impressed that he even briefly considered reusing the character in Pulp Fiction.

Clip via Skedaren

We wish he did, because Drexl is one of the most intimidating villains in film history.

Super Happy Bonus Fun Fact: A very young Jack Black had a small cameo in the movie as a theatre usher, but it never made the final cut

Jack Black

Song of the Film: You’re So Cool – Hans Zimmer

It couldn’t be anything else, really.

The beautiful score (and hat-tip to Badlands) provides the music to the opening credits and pops up again sporadically throughout the film.

It’s full of mystique, tenderness, wonder and, like the title suggests, coolness.

After watching True Romance, this sticks in your head for at least the next 24 hours and then you’re left realising that there couldn’t be a more fitting song for such a crazy, but wonderful, film.

Clip via the_iceman