Quentin Tarantino met Robert Forster in a restaurant and handed him the script, saying "You're going to do this, and that's all there is to it". Forster was naturally thrilled, having had a major career slump. This film saw him come back in a big way, even landing an Oscar nomination.
When Pam Grier walked in to audition for Quentin Tarantino, "there were all my posters from twenty years ago, when I was just a piss and vinegar kid", she recalled. "And I said, 'Did you put these up because I was coming over?' And he said, 'No. I was gonna take them down because you were coming over!'"
According to Quentin Tarantino, Michael Keaton desperately tried to talk Tarantino out of hiring him for the role of Ray Nicolette. "His whole process was to convince me that he's not right for the role", recalled Tarantino. "But he never quite convinced me. Michael's whole thing is to deny himself, and to say he's not right."
Quentin Tarantino compares the film to Rio Bravo (1959). "It's a hangout movie", he explained. "Jackie Brown is better the second time, and I think it's even better the third, and the fourth time. Maybe even the first time we see it, we go, 'Why are we doing all this hanging out? Why can't we get to more of the plot?' But, now the second time you see it, and the third time you see it, you're not thinking about the plot anymore. You're waiting for the hangout scenes. To me, that's the thing that Rio Bravo (1959) did. I remember the first time I saw Rio Bravo (1959), but I remember more the fifteenth time I saw Rio Bravo (1959). It's about hanging out with the characters."
The white 1980 Honda Civic which Jackie (Pam Grier) drives, is the same car Butch (Bruce Willis) was driving when he knocked down Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) in Pulp Fiction (1994). Given how badly Butch crashed after knocking down Marsellus, it's nothing short of amazing that the car wasn't a write off.
When Robert De Niro first got ahold of the script, he wanted to play the role of Max Cherry. Quentin Tarantino wanted to work with De Niro, but had his heart set on Robert Forster as Cherry, so he gave the role of Louis to De Niro.
Pam Grier didn't expect her longtime friend Sid Haig to play the judge. She started to burst out laughing, as she was surprised by Haig, because they starred together in several exploitation films, by which this film's style was influenced.
Quentin Tarantino wanted to gauge the audience's reaction to key moments in the film, so he spent the first several weeks following the film's release watching it in theaters. "I saw that movie like thirteen times at the Magic Johnson Theatre", said Tarantino. "The whole first four weeks it was there, I just lived there."
Quentin Tarantino was afraid that Elmore Leonard would hate the film. He and Roger Avary hesitated to discuss the changes with Leonard, finally speaking with Leonard as the film was about to start shooting. Leonard loved the screenplay, considering it not only the best of the twenty-six screen adaptations of his novels and short stories, but also stating that it was possibly the best screenplay he had ever read.
Robert Forster's father, whom he loved dearly, got the good news of his son's return to acting in a feature film, and spent a short time on-set. Sadly, he passed away before Robert received his Oscar nomination.
After completing Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary acquired the film rights to Elmore Leonard's novels Rum Punch, Freaky Deaky, and Killshot. Tarantino initially planned to film either Freaky Deaky or Killshot, and have another director make Rum Punch, but changed his mind after re-reading Rum Punch, stating that he "fell in love" with the novel all over again.
The scene where Max and Jackie talk, and Max discusses that he had work done on his hair to make him look more youthful, was suggested by Robert Forster. Forster had such surgery when his hairline began to disappear, and thought it fit the character. Tarantino was delighted that Forster was willing to openly discuss the procedure, and immediately wrote it into the screenplay.
Louis and Ordell first appeared in the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch. At age fifteen, Quentin Tarantino was arrested for shoplifting this book, his one brush with "real" crime. In The Switch, Louis and Ordell kidnap a millionaire's wife, only to discover he doesn't want her back, a plot that was used in Ruthless People (1986). In the novel's sequel, Rum Punch, Louis and Ordell complain that the movie producers stole their idea (without mentioning the movie by name).
Spike Lee publicly criticized Tarantino for the frequent use of the n-word in the film. Samuel L. Jackson, previously a frequent Lee collaborator, defended Tarantino in the press. Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein called Lee in an attempt to mediate between him and Tarantino, but Lee refused to speak with Tarantino.
The music used, in the scene in the mall, where Jackie comes out of the dressing room "frantically" looking around for the undercover cops, is the same as was used in the chase scene in Coffy (1973), where Pam Grier's title character is running away from the cops.
In the Special Edition features, Prop Master Steve Joyner reveals what five hundred thousand dollars in cash, actually looks like. Joyner goes on to say, that Quentin Tarantino insisted on authenticity, hence the actual sum of money.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (trunk): The scene where Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) is trying to convince Beaumont (Chris Tucker) to get in the trunk of the car, is shot entirely from a camera in the trunk looking up at them.
When Ordell Robbie first goes to Max Cherry's office and is asked if he has the cash for the bond, he responds "I got it right here in my Raptor bag." Although the logo is partially obscured, it is clearly that of the Toronto Raptors. Samuel L. Jackson was frequently courtside at Toronto Raptor games the season before filming this movie.
When Ordell first meets Max Cherry in his office, clearly visible beyond Max's desk is a large poster for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for which Robert Forster's father, Robert Wallace Forster, Sr., once worked as an elephant trainer.
In the closing credits, Tarantino gives special thanks to "Bert D'Angelo's Daughter" (among others). In the late 1970s, Paul Sorvino starred in a television detective show, Bert D'Angelo/Superstar (1976). Thus "Bert D'Angelo's Daughter" is Paul's daughter, and Tarantino's girlfriend at the time, Mira Sorvino.
Although prominently billed on the poster and featured in the film's trailers, Robert Forster was excluded from most advance promotional photos for the film. He was the only actor in the cast to receive an Academy Award nomination.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (Acuna Boys): In the scene where Jackie (Pam Grier) and Sheronda (Lisa Gay Hamilton) are in the food court at the mall making the bag exchange, one of the cups on the table reads "Acuna Boys". The Acuna Boys is the name of the gang that is run by Esteban Vihaio in Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004). The Acuna Boys are also featured in Grindhouse (2007), in the form of an intermission advertisement. The Acuna Boys are also featured again in Death Proof (2007), as the character of Arlene is seen sipping from a Acuna Boys soda.
Contrary to popular belief, Tarantino's actual reason for changing the main character's name to Jackie Brown from Burke, was due to his fandom of the Peter Yates film, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), which featured a flamboyant and cocky arms dealer named "Jackie Brown", who's characteristics and behavior were the inspiration for both the book and film versions of Ordell Robbie. The author of Jackie Brown's source material "Rum Punch", Elmore Leonard, was a noted George V. Higgins fan, and claims him as one of his inspirations, Higgins being the author of the book The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
There has been a lot of talk if Danny DeVito made an uncredited cameo appearance during the opening title sequence of this movie. Danny DeVito knew Quentin Tarantino well, because he was Executive Producer of Pulp Fiction (1994). Check for yourself if you think the short man in a white shirt with a black cap on his head is Danny DeVito. You can freeze frame his short cameo appearance around one minute and fifty seconds, during the opening title sequence.
According to Quentin Tarantino, 1970s actress Carol Speed originally helped out in making this film, and was willing to play a small cameo part in the film. At the last minute, Tarantino decided not to use her in the film.
The inn, where Ordell and Louis have a drink, is called The Cockatoo Inn. The neon light letters t-o-o are out, so it spells The Cocka Inn: cocaine, a hint to the bags of cocaine found in Jackie's bag in the beginning of the movie.
When this movie premiered on television in 2001, Radio Times' Andrew Collins had it as Film of the Week. Collins wrote in his review: "The truth is it's his most mature film. It may lack the simplicity of Reservoir Dogs (1992), or the fireworks of Pulp Fiction (1994), but it proves that Tarantino is a director who doesn't need violence to hold our attention." Also, unlike Dogs and Pulp, Jackie is told in chronological order.
During a scene, wherein Max Cherry is searching for a Delfonic's cassette tape in a record store, the song "Letter to the Firm" by hip-hop artist Foxy Brown can be heard blaring loudly on the store's PA system. Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) is most known for her roles in several low budget "blaxploitation" films from the 1970s, particularly her starring role in Foxy Brown (1974).
The copyright on the film during the opening credits is held by Mighty Mighty Afrodite productions. Mira Sorvino, who was dating Writer and Director Quentin Tarantino at the time, won an Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite (1995).
Samuel L. Jackson appeared consecutively in three films adapted from authors' work in a year. These films are this movie and Out of Sight (1998), both adapted from books by Elmore Leonard (this movie was adapted from "Rum Punch"); and Sphere (1998), adapted from the book by Michael Crichton.
During the end credits Tarantino gives special thanks to Writer and Director Samuel Fuller: "Sam Fuller, Thanks for Everything". Tarantino is known to be a great fan of Fuller's work, as are many other directors like Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, and Jim Jarmusch.
During the trial run scene Jackie, Ray Nicolette and Mark Dargus argue on how to correctly report on tape the colors of the Del Amo shopping bag: white, purple and pink. During the briefing scene in Reservoir Dogs, there is a similar argument between Mr. White and Mr. Pink, who wants to change his color to Purple.
This marks the first time that Quentin Tarantino hasn't had a cameo, if you don't count his answering machine greeting on Jackie Brown's (Pam Grier's) telephone, in one of the films he's written and directed. Tarantino had roles in Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994). Additionally, unlike the aforementioned films, this film has no prologue before the opening credits.
During the interrogation scene where Jackie is taken into custody, Detective Dargas (Michael Bowen) stated that anyone in possession of over ten thousand dollars should declare it to U.S. Customs. This is based on the regulations coded by the Internal Revenue Service under Title 26 (tax code, enacted August 16, 1954, known as the Internal Revenue Code Act later amended in 1986 under the Tax Reform Act) and under Title 31 USC 5311 of the United States Code. It is against I.R.S. regulations for an individual to carry over ten thousand dollars in currency (in this case, a cash transaction) without reporting it to U.S. Customs when entering the United States. This is further codified under Federal Law, under 31 U.S.C. 5316 and Treasury Department regulations (31 CFR Chapter X), individuals who enter the United States with over ten thousand dollars in cash (or other monetary instruments, like stocks or bonds), must file (after April 25,1990) a FinCEN 105 document. FinCEN is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is a division of the Department of the Treasury.
Two lots of the cast members, four in total, have the same first names. They are Robert Forster and Robert De Niro, who play Max Cherry and Louis Gara, respectively. Also, Michael Keaton and Michael Bowen, who play Ray Nicolette and Mark Dargus, respectively. Incidentally, the Robert characters and the Michael characters are on opposite sides of the law.
Both Michael Keaton & Samuel Jackson have played in Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies: Keaton in "Spiderman: Homecoming" , Jackson in practically everything else including but not limited to: "Iron Man," "Avengers," "Captain America: First Avenger". In addition, Keaton famously played Batman in two movies from the DC Universe.
In an early scene, Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) and Louis (Robert De Niro) go to visit a bail bondsman. Coincidentally, De Niro played a bounty hunter who worked for a bail bondsman in Midnight Run (1988).
Pam Grier's character's name is Jackie Brown. Quentin Tarantino played Mr. Brown in Reservoir Dogs (1992). So Grier and Tarantino have played characters with the same surname. Grier also played the main character in Foxy Brown (1974).
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (snappy dialogue): When Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) has learned from Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) that he'd seen Max Cherry (Robert Forster) in a department store. "Max Ch-? You seen Max Cherry in the dress department? Man, look at me when I talk to you! You saw that motherfucker in the dress department when we're about to get a half million, and you don't think nothing of it?" What happened here was that Ordell started to talk to Louis, only to catch him looking out of the van window. This only served to dangerously enrage Ordell further.
Samuel L. Jackson had an uncredited role in Out of Sight (1998), the main character of which was named "Karen Sisco". They later adapted her character into the television show Karen Sisco (2003) starring Carla Gugino, and her father on the show was played by Robert Forster.
Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, and Michael Keaton have all starred in films directed by Barbet Schroeder. Jackson in Kiss of Death (1995), Fonda in Single White Female (1992), and Keaton in Desperate Measures (1998).
Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson have co-starred with David Caruso. De Niro in Mad Dog and Glory (1993), and Jackson in Kiss of Death (1995). Incidentally, Richard Price wrote the screenplays for both films.
Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert De Niro have all co-starred with Sharon Stone. Grier in Above the Law (1988), Jackson in Sphere (1998) and De Niro in Casino (1995). Incidentally, if Above the Law (1988) had its alternate title "Nico", then all three films would be one word titles.
Robert De Niro partakes in smoking pot with Bridget Fonda from her bong. In True Romance (1993), also written by Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt smokes pot from his bong in one scene. De Niro and Pitt co-starred in Sleepers (1996). Incidentally, Sleepers Director Barry Levinson wrote the screenplay from pre-existing material, just like Tarantino did here.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Quentin Tarantino was criticized for excessive, exploitative violence in preceding hits like Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), so his sarcastic response to critics in this film, was to tone down the blood and guts. When Melanie is shot by Louis, we don't see anything, and when Ordell kills Louis, we are behind the action, out of view of the bullet contact.
During the sequence where Ordell is watching television with Louis, the phone rings and he goes to the kitchen. In the fridge, there's a picture of Samuel L. Jackson naked inside a bath tub. This pic is from his role in Goodfellas (1990).
In this film, Robert De Niro has sex with Bridget Fonda. He also had sex with her aunt, Jane Fonda, in the film Stanley and Iris (1990). De Niro is the only actor to have had sex in a film with both the aunt and the niece.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (dark humor): After Louis shot Melanie in the parking lot, in the chest and stomach, as she was making fun of him for not remembering where he had parked the car, he turned to look down briefly at where Melanie lay dead. Louis then said, "See? Just where I said it was." He acted like nothing had happened, and drove off soon thereafter.