'Bring Out The Gimp': Pulp Fiction's Masked Man Speaks

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It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Quentin Tarantino unleashed Pulp Fiction at the Cannes Film Festival and took home the Palme d’Or. But on Friday night, stars Uma Thurman and John Travolta joined Tarantino in Cannes for a special anniversary screening of the film. But we’ve got to ask, where was The Gimp?

Uma Thurman and Quentin TarantinoUma Thurman joined Tarantino for a special Pulp Fiction screening

He might not have a spoken a single line in the film and we never actually saw his face, but The Gimp remains one of Pulp Fiction’s most iconic characters. There was just something about that head to toe leather look that was bound to engrain itself in movie goers minds. But who was the man behind the mask?

More: Pulp Fiction stars reunite at Cannes

Hiding behind the leather was Stephen Hibbert, an English born comedian who began his career as a member of the Groundlings improv-comedy group. Hibbert began performing with the troupe in 1989 and Tarantino would often come to watch their shows, eventually striking up a friendship with the cast. Indeed Groudlings' alumni are sprinkled throughout Pulp Fiction in minor roles, Kathy Griffin can be seen after Butch runs down Marcellus Wallace with his car and Hibbert's former wife Julia Sweeney appears as Winston Wolf's girlfriend.

More: Winter Sleep takes home Palme d'Or at Cannes

So how did Hibbert end up as the man in The Gimp costume? Well he auditioned with Tarantino like any other actor would. "He and I did like a little psychodrama where he was, you know, being dominant and I was being passive. Just improv," he revealed in an interview with NPR. "I got the job and it was a blast. It was two days' work, and he just said, 'Go nuts.' So I did." But behind the mask, Hibbert says he was “bright red and embarrassed beyond comprehension,” while also struggling with the “uncomfortable” costume.

Bruce WillisBruce Willis encountered The Gimp in Pulp Fiction

Hibbert doesn't mind the anonymity that came with hiding behind a mask, “I didn't necessarily want to be recognised for the Gimp," he says. "I never sent out, you know, 'Merry Christmas from the Gimp' Christmas cards.” Today Hibbert describes himself as "kind of unemployed,” while doing freelance work and going out for commercial auditions.

Still, there are a few people he's been reluctant about revealing his identity to, "I've kept it from the children up until this moment," he said, "not actively so, but they're 14, 12 and 10, so they're a little young for Pulp Fiction still.”


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Tags: Quentin Tarantino - John Travolta

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