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Meet the typist and photographer behind "Pulp Fiction"

Linda Chen would be in her pajamas fast asleep after midnight in her West Hollywood, California, apartment when her phone would ring.

"Do you want to get dinner?" a fresh-faced Quentin Tarantino would say.

"Not really, I'm in bed and in my pajamas," a groggy Chen would answer.

"Come on, let's just go get some dinner," Tarantino pressed. And then he would start reading a slightly bizarre film script from a handwritten school notebook involving three intertwining stories, including hit men, a past-his-prime boxer and other less-than-savory characters.

Chen knew she had to get out of bed. Every time. She had what she calls "a Quentin crush," something she likely developed after meeting him on the set of "Reservoir Dogs" and becoming fast friends. Tarantino would tease Chen about her haircut -- "a Tom Cruise haircut," to be specific. She would have to drive -- Tarantino had too many unpaid parking tickets to drive, she says, and they would go to Denny's to write what would eventually become a cultural icon: the 1994 film "Pulp Fiction."

The New York Times called the movie "a triumphant, cleverly disorienting journey through a demimonde that springs entirely from Mr. Tarantino's ripe imagination, a landscape of danger, shock, hilarity and vibrant local color." It is listed as one of the 100 greatest films ever by the American Film Institute and became the first independent film to gross more than $200 million in worldwide box office sales. Impressive, considering that the production budget was just $8 million. It rebooted the career of John Travolta (Vincent Vega) and has left millions of moviegoers wondering: What was in that box?

"I think the reason that 'Pulp Fiction' became a cultural icon is that it redefined moral codes and, especially, I think, masculinity," Chen told CBS News.

Chen is officially listed as the movie's unit photographer. She was on the set every day taking publicity stills. She has those stories, too. Chen says that in between takes of Christopher Walken's (Captain Koons) monologue, he would put Tabasco sauce on the back of his hand to generate enough saliva to get through the day.

However, her "secret job" on the film was typing Tarantino's script -- and then editing it. Tarantino didn't type his own scripts because he didn't know how to type, says Chen. He would write everything longhand into a school notebook and hand it off to Chen who would then type up the script. What was supposed to take two weeks took three months because Tarantino's handwriting was terrible, she says, and his discombobulated thoughts looked like gibberish. Tarantino often spelled words as they sounded -- not necessarily as they were actually spelled, she notes.

"I was trying to really translate what he used as English based on his ear for dialogue," Chen says. "He had a tremendous ear for dialogue and always has."

Tarantino dropped out of Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California, at 16 years old. He wasn't an academic and didn't pretend to be. As Chen puts it, "He learned everything through watching movies. He learned everything in life just by watching people and being with people."

Chen's biggest contribution to the script was narrowing it down to 158 pages. She was essential in "trimming the fat out," she says -- a line here, a word there, expanding margins somewhere.

Once the script was finished, it was approved by Miramax within a matter of hours.

"Quentin didn't actually pay me to type the script," Chen says with a laugh. "I had volunteered because I thought it was only going to take a couple weeks, no big deal. I didn't think it would be months and I didn't think I would be so emotionally involved in wanting to see this film get made. I got gripped by it. I got gripped by him."

But Tarantino did give Chen something. After working multiple all-nighters to slam together the finishing touches to the "Pulp Fiction" script, Chen had to rush off to shoot the Dennis Hopper film, "Chasers." She had a pet rabbit that needed taking care of so she asked Tarantino if he would do it. His answer? "I'm the last person who should be bunny sitting." So Chen gave the rabbit to some friends -- who promptly let the bunny into the wild. Let's just say the bunny was never seen again.

Honey Bunny Linda Chen

The rabbit's name was Honey Bunny. Yes, Tarantino named Amanda Plummer's character in "Pulp Fiction" in Honey Bunny's memory.

When Chen was on set, the buzz was palpable.

"It was creative. It was intense energy," Chen says. "It was young spirit. There was an aliveness to being with very established actors who had never done anything like this before. There were no suits coming to the set to tell us we couldn't do what we wanted to do. "

Travolta off camera during "Pulp Fiction"

A lot of that energy came from the dynamic Tarantino. During the now famous Jack Rabbit Slims restaurant scene featuring the dancing Travolta and Uma Thurman (Mia Wallace), Tarantino danced along with the duo -- and kept smashing into Chen, who was trying to shoot stills just a few feet away. And next time you watch the movie, take a look at the previous scene. You might notice that Thurman's hand is visibly shaking from nervousness at the diner table with Travolta. Chen says that Thurman knew that her dance scene was approaching.

"If you think about where John was in his career, this was the moment where everything changed," Chen says about "Pulp Fiction." "He made a huge comeback. Audiences saw him in a whole different way. After this, he got other roles where he got to play bad guys."

As for Chen, she's living a different life now. Her clients are no longer the Dennis Hoppers and Quentin Tarantinos of the world. They are prospective home buyers. After continuing to work as a still photographer on movie sets after "Pulp Fiction," she had vision problems that forced her to leave the film industry. She left Los Angeles and moved to New York where she didn't have to drive.

She's been a real estate agent since 2002 and while she's happy in her second life -- she misses her first one.

"I do miss it. I do miss the creative process," Chen says. "I miss being part of a group, a team and a crew."

Chen last saw Tarantino in 2012 at his Friars Club roast. Samuel L. Jackson (Jules Winnfield in "Pulp Fiction") might have had the line of night when he said, "I would be remiss if I didn't thank Jim Henson every morning for designing Quentin's face."

Tarantino returned a barb later: "I want you to give Sam Jackson a hand for a good job here. He was at a bit of a disadvantage, I wasn't writing his dialogue for him." 

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