Quentin Tarantino wanted James Woods to play a role in the film, and made him five different cash offers. Woods' agent refused the offers without ever mentioning it to Woods as the sums offered were well below what Woods would usually receive. When Tarantino and Woods later met for the first time, Woods learned of the offer and was annoyed enough to get a new agent. Tarantino avoided telling Woods which role he was offered "because the actor who played the role was magnificent anyway". It is widely accepted that the role that Tarantino was referring to was Mr. Orange.
The film contains 272 uses of the word "fuck".
Aside from the opening credits, the film never refers to any of the characters as a "Reservoir Dog".
Quentin Tarantino originally wrote the role of Mr. Pink for himself. Steve Buscemi originally auditioned for the part of Mr. White. Michael Madsen originally auditioned for the part of Mr Pink. George Clooney read for the role of Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega but was turned down, and Christopher Walken refused the same role. Vincent Gallo turned down the role of Mr. Pink. Samuel L. Jackson auditioned for the role of Mr. Orange. Once Tim Roth was cast, Quentin Tarantino originally wanted him to play Mr. Blonde or Mr. Pink. Robert Forster and Timothy Carey auditioned for the part of Joe Cabot, and the film is dedicated to Carey.
David Duchovny auditioned for a part.
The final answer print of the film came back from the lab just 3 days before its world premiere at Sundance.
During filming, a paramedic was kept on the set to make sure that Mr. Orange's (Tim Roth) amount of blood loss was kept consistent and realistic to that of a real gunshot victim.
To avoid alienating the film's backers, producer Lawrence Bender had the tamer scenes shot first, so that the dailies would strengthen the backers' confidence before getting to the nasty, violent scenes.
The warehouse where the majority of the movie takes place was once a mortuary, and thus is full of coffins. Mr. Blonde doesn't sit down on a crate, it's actually an old hearse he perches on.
Directly prior to the scene showing the colored bottles of soap, you see two shirts hanging on the wall, and a rag in the distance on the floor. These are appropriately in sync with the surnames of the characters in their present states. Mr. White and Mr. Pink are upright and close to each other, corresponding to the two shirt colors, while the orange rag laying in the distance would be the position of Mr. Orange in the next room.
Michael Madsen had difficulty filming the torture scenes. He was particularly reluctant when he was required to hit actor Kirk Baltz. When the cop, pleading for his life, says that he has a child at home (a line not in the script), Madsen, himself a new father at the time, was so disturbed by the idea of leaving a child fatherless that he couldn't finish the scene.
At several points, Tim Roth had lain in the pool of fake blood for so long that the blood dried out and he had to be peeled off the floor, which took several minutes.
WILHELM SCREAM: The famous scream is heard when Mr. Pink pushes a pedestrian on the sidewalk while being pursued by cops during his escape from the failed jewel heist.
Director Trademark: [Quentin Tarantino] [[long take]: While torturing the cop, we follow Mr. Blonde continuously from the warehouse to his car outside, back into the warehouse again.]
Mr. Orange's apartment was actually the upstairs to the warehouse where most of the movie takes place. The filmmakers redecorated it to look like an apartment in order to save money on finding a real apartment.
The theatrical release of the film contains no female speaking parts. There are some in the 10th anniversary DVD, including Nina Siemaszko as McKlusky.
Voted best independent film ever by Empire Magazine. It also was voted most influential movie in the past 15 years by the same magazine.
For the European release, the distributor used one sheet posters for each of the main characters. This was quite a novel strategy at the time, and has now become very widespread.
All the actors who portrayed the criminals have spent time in jail.
The suit Harvey Keitel was his own. It had been a specially made gift from French designer Agnès B..
This movie has no orchestral score. All the music you hear are prerecorded tracks.
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies".
Kirk Baltz recalls that a more graphic version of the ear-cutting scene was filmed, involving a tube running up to his ear that squirted blood. Michael Madsen, however, has said he thought it was "rather tame", after seeing the scene play out that way.
The film's budget was so low that many of the actors simply used their own clothing as wardrobe; most notably Chris Penn's track jacket. The signature black suits were provided for free by the designer, based on her love for the American crime film genre. Steve Buscemi wore his own black jeans instead of suit pants.
Armed with $30,000 and a 16mm camera, Quentin Tarantino was all set to make the film with a bunch of friends, including his producing partner Lawrence Bender who was going to play Nice Guy Eddie. It was then that Tarantino received an answerphone message from Harvey Keitel, asking if he could not only be in the film but help produce it. Keitel had gotten involved via the wife of Bender's acting class teacher, who had managed to get a copy of the script to him. Keitel's involvement helped raise the budget to $1.5 million.
Madonna - who is the main topic of the opening conversation - really liked the film but refuted Quentin Tarantino's interpretation of her song 'Like a Virgin'. She gave him a copy of her 'Erotica' album, signed "To Quentin. It's not about dick, it's about love. Madonna."
Chris Penn's blood squibs accidentally went off too early in the big stand-off scene, forcing him to fall to the floor. There is not, as is commonly believed, a mystery round being fired off-screen.
Kirk Baltz auditioned four times for the film.
Quentin Tarantino wrote the first draft in three and a half weeks.
In Mr. White's flashback, Joe asks him about a girl named Alabama. This is a reference to Patricia Arquette's character from True Romance (1993). Quentin Tarantino has stated that he originally intended this character to meet up with Mr. White and to become partners in crime. When "True Romance" was released a year after this film, the ending was changed and so this backstory became inconsistent because Alabama never went on to meet up with Mr. White.
Robert Kurtzman did the special make-up effects for free, on the condition that Quentin Tarantino write a script for From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) based on a story by Kurtzman.
The line where Mr. White tells Mr. Pink, "I need you cool. Are you cool?" was added into the script after a conflict between Lawrence Tierney and Michael Madsen. To break the scuffle and continue shooting, Quentin Tarantino said to Tierney, "Larry. I need you cool. Are you cool?" This line, and some from Pulp Fiction (1994) were sampled by Fun Lovin' Criminals in their song "Scooby Snacks" (1995).
According to an interview on the DVD, Michael Madsen says that Kirk Baltz asked to ride in his trunk to experience what it was really like. Madsen agreed, but decided as he went along that this was time for his own character development. So he drove down a long alley with potholes, and then a Taco Bell drive-through before taking Baltz back to the parking lot and letting him out. The soda he ordered at said drive-through is the same one he can be seen drinking during his character's first appearance in the warehouse.
In then commentary of the True Romance (1993) DVD, Quentin Tarantino says that Tony Scott read both the "True Romance" and "Reservoir Dogs" scripts and told Tarantino he wanted to direct "Reservoir Dogs". Tarantino told him he could have "True Romance" but that he himself was going to direct "Reservoir Dogs".
Mr. Blonde's Cadillac Coupe de Ville actually belonged to Michael Madsen because the budget wasn't big enough to buy a car for the character.
Quentin Tarantino was considering using "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet as an alternate song for the "ear" scene, but went with Stealers Wheel "Stuck in the Middle with You".
Terry Gilliam is thanked in the credits in gratitude for advice he gave to Quentin Tarantino during a Sundance workshop.
The first draft script called for Pink Floyd's "Money" where "Little Green Bag" is now. It was later changed because Quentin Tarantino heard "Little Green Bag" over the radio and became extremely nostalgic.
Director Trademark: [Quentin Tarantino] [trunk] Before the audience sees the contents of Mr. Blonde's trunk, the camera looks up at Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, and Mr. Pink from inside the trunk.
The title for the film came to Quentin Tarantino via a patron at the now-famous Video Archives. While working there, Tarantino would often recommend little-known titles to customers, and when he suggested Au revoir les enfants (1987), the patron mockingly replied, "I don't want to see no reservoir dogs!"
Mr. Pink's numerous references to being "professional" are a reference to movie director Howard Hawks, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino's.
Quentin Tarantino avoids product-placement in his movies as much as possible. This is why anyone who smokes is smoking a pack of "Red Apples", a brand Tarantino made up. This is also why any cereal in his films (Fruit Brute, Kabooom!, etc.) are all brands that died out in the 1970s and no longer exist.
The film was released in America with almost no promotion, so it did not do that well at the box office. In England, however, it was such a huge hit that Quentin Tarantino would be mobbed as he walked down the street in London. British filmmakers have been "influenced" by it since.
Mr. Blonde's real name is Vic Vega. This is the same surname as Vince (John Travolta) from Quentin Tarantino's other film, Pulp Fiction (1994). Tarantino has revealed that are Vic and Vince brothers. He also intended to do a prequel to both films called "Double V Vega", which would star the Vega Brothers, but Madsen and Travolta eventually got too old to reprise their roles, and Tarantino has since abandoned it.
The actress who plays the lady Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) shoots was Roth's dialect coach. Roth insisted that she take the role, as she was very hard on him.
According to various stories, pop singer Alecia Moore took her stage name Pink after Mr. Pink because she loves this movie. She apparently wanted to be called "Mister Pink" but her manager talked her out of it.
Edward Bunker, a former career criminal, was the youngest felon to be sent to San Quentin. (He was 17.) He was a novelist and also played cons in other films - Runaway Train (1985), The Longest Yard (2005) and Straight Time (1978) (which was based on his novel) and worked as a technical advisor on others - Heat (1995), for instance. Jon Voight's character in 'Heat' was based on Bunker.
Quentin Tarantino had his debut, Reservoir Dogs (1992) the same year as Robert Rodriguez's debut El mariachi (1992). Since then they have collaborated on numerous projects
Quentin Tarantino has the first line of dialogue at the beginning.
>>> WARNING: Here Be Spoilers <<<
Trivia items below here contain information that may give away important plot points. You may not want to read any further if you've not already seen this title.
SPOILER: The total death count in this film (onscreen and off) is 16. Four clerks in the jewelry store, five of the six crooks (Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, and Mr. Brown), Joe Cabot and his son Nice Guy Eddie, the two cops Mr. White shot, the cop in the trunk (Marvin Nash), the one cops Mr. Pink shot, the woman Mr. Orange shot, and the "black girl" Mr. Blonde shoots in the bank. Plus, it was never mentioned how many police Mr. Blonde had to shoot to escape the jewelry store. It can be assumed that Mr. Pink is not shot after he flees the warehouse; although you hear gunshots, he can be heard very faintly yelling something to the effect of "give up" shortly thereafter.
SPOILER: Although he supposedly killed more people than any of the other characters did, Mr. Blonde is never seen killing anyone on-screen.
SPOILER: When Mr. White and Mr. Pink are in the washroom talking about what went wrong with the job, there are seven bottles on the shelf behind them. One of them is filled with a white liquid, three of them are filled with pink liquid, and there are three of them filled with a orange liquid. The white and pink bottles are close together and the orange bottles are by themselves. During this time, Mr. Orange is passed out by himself is the other room.
SPOILER: According to cast member Edward Bunker, there was a scene that would have shown exactly what happened to his character, Mr. Blue but the scene was cut due to the limited budget. He also said actor Lawrence Tierney could never remember his lines, so Tierney's scenes took a while to shoot.
SPOILERS: In the scene where Nice Guy Eddie talks on his cell phone about the botched robbery, an orange balloon can be seen floating past the car. Some believe that this was intentional, as to foreshadow Mr. Orange as the rat. However, Quentin Tarantino claims that it was accidental.
SPOILER: According to Quentin Tarantino, Mr. Pink does in fact survive. You can verify this by increasing the volume of the background sounds: When Mr. Pink runs out of the building with the diamonds, police officers can be heard shouting at him to put his hands on the ground. Gunshots can be heard, then Mr. Pink shouts that he has been shot. You can then hear the officers talking to each other as Pink is arrested.