Uma Thurman, co-star of the "Be Cool" Movie!
An actress noted as much for her exotic, almost otherworldly beauty as she is for her considerable talent, Uma Thurman is one of the most renowned actors of her generation. The daughter of celebrated professor of Buddhist studies Robert F.A. Thurman and Nena von Schlebrugge, a model and psychotherapist who was once married to Timothy Leary, Uma was born in Boston on April 29, 1970. Raised with three brothers in Amherst, where her father taught at Amherst College, she enjoyed a fairly bohemian upbringing, one that was marked by visits from Eastern holy men and Tibetan refugees. Encouraged to think for herself and be independent, Thurman, who had been interested in acting from an early age, left her Massachusetts boarding school at the age of 15 to pursue an acting career. Moving to New York, she earned a living by washing dishes and modeling, though the latter means of support never agreed with her. The fledgling actress made her debut in Kiss Daddy Goodnight (1987), a forgettable film that cast her as a teen vamp who seduces and robs unsuspecting men. She had a starring role in the teen comedy Johnny Be Good (1988) and also made an eye-catching appearance in Terry Gilliam's underseen fantasy adventure film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). But it wasn't until her casting in Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons (1988) as Cécile de Volanges, the impressionable convent girl deflowered by John Malkovich's slimy Vicomte de Valmont, that Thurman first gained recognition. Her scenes with Malkovich, particularly the one in which he offers to teach her a few bedroom terms in Latin, proved to be some of the most memorable of the year, resulting in a sizable helping of fame for the young actress. Further recognition followed with Thurman's portrayal of Henry Miller's wife -- and the object of both his and Anaïs Nin's affections -- in Philip Kaufman's Henry & June (1990). Unfortunately, the actress' role in the NC-17 film -- which required her to take part in explicit love scenes with Maria de Medeiros -- inspired a great deal of unwelcome, stalker-like attention from any number of "fans," causing Thurman to shy away from doing a subsequent number of films. The projects she did take part in all proved to be forgettable affairs: Robin Hood (1991), Final Analysis (1992), Jennifer 8 (1992), Mad Dog and Glory (1993), and Gus Van Sant's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994).
By the time Thurman received the script for Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, her career was in great need of resuscitation. Fortunately, Pulp Fiction provided just that. A huge, unanticipated success, it was the most talked-about film of the year, eventually becoming recognized as one of the most influential films of the decade. For her part, Thurman gave a sly, smoldering performance as Mia Wallace, the coke-snorting wife of gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), and soon found herself enjoying both a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and an accompanying resurgence in Hollywood popularity. She followed the success of Pulp Fiction with three relatively modest romantic comedies: A Month by the Lake (1995), The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996), and Beautiful Girls (1996). The 1997 future dystopia Gattaca did little for Thurman but introduce her to co-star and future husband Ethan Hawke. (The two married in May of 1998 and had a daughter later that year; Thurman had been married once before, to Gary Oldman). Batman & Robin, that same year, was less than a high point in Thurman's career. 1998 proved to be similarly disappointing, with both The Avengers, which cast the actress as the cat-suited Emma Peel opposite Ralph Fiennes' John Steed, and Bille August's Les Miserables experiencing swift deaths at the box office.
Thurman resurfaced in 1999 in Woody Allen's widely acclaimed Sweet and Lowdown. The story of a famed jazz guitarist (Sean Penn) whose talent is inversely proportional to his merits as a human being, the film cast Thurman as his worldly, unfaithful wife. The following year, she had starring roles in two lavish period dramas, Merchant-Ivory's The Golden Bowl and Roland Joffé's Vatel. The former, a Henry James adaptation that premiered to great acclaim at the 2000 Cannes Festival, featured Thurman as a commoner caught up in a forbidden love affair with an impoverished prince (Jeremy Northam); the latter, which also premiered at Cannes, cast Thurman as a French noblewoman during the reign of King Louis XIV. Supporting performances in Richard Linklater's Tape and husband Hawke's Chelsea Walls (both 2001) were soon to follow, and though Thurman's performances were solid as ever, the limited release of both films found her gaining minimal exposure. Though Thurman was virtually unrecognizable in her role as a lovelorn Jersey girl in the HBO feature Hysterical Blindness (2002), her bravado performance earned her a Best Actress Golden Globe and the downbeat drama found audiences once again compelled by her marked versatility. Little did audiences know that her next role couldn't be more different.
Thurman may had done action before in such efforts as Batman & Robin and The Avengers, but her role as the vengeful Bride in Quentin Tarantino's eagerly anticipated Kill Bill nevertheless found viewers' jaws planted firmly on the popcorn-littered multiplex floors. With the production initially delayed due to Thurman's pregnancy, the two-time mother quickly shed her excess weight shortly after giving birth to son Roan; after a vigorous training program, the violent revenge epic was back on track. Even though Thurman made no secret of the fact that balancing the difficult tasks of motherhood and superstardom often took their toll on her during the production of Kill Bill, the dedicated actress pulled off the physically demanding role without a hitch. Debuting in October 2003 to overwhelmingly positive reviews, Kill Bill Vol. 1 (the film was split into two halves after being deemed too long by studio Miramax) still managed to split audiences due to its virtually nonstop, extremely graphic violence. With Kill Bill Vol. 2 scheduled to roll into theaters four months later, fans wasted no time in speculating on The Bride's carnage-laden quest to even the score with the titular Bill (David Carradine) after the ruthless killer gunned her down on her wedding day.
Uma Proves Ethan Wrong
Nothing acts better as an incentive than trying to prove someone wrong... and so thinks Uma Thurman.
The Hollywood star is determined to show that she can be both a mother and a successful actress - despite her ex-husband Ethan Hawke's misgivings.
On being a working single mother of two, she said: "I find it very tumultuous and difficult, but I wouldn't want to give it up.
"It is just something I am fighting for: to keep my feet in the business satisfactorily, still be creatively stimulated and take care of my children."
The couple split in September 2003, and Ethan revealed how the power struggle between two working actors who were also parents was tricky.
"I mean, two people who are used to being the star of their own settings... it's very difficult.
"It asks more of you and asks you to grow. You have to learn to mitigate your own ego... but it is challenging," he said at the time, before adding:
"I always felt like marriage works best at a farm, where everyone has real clear-cut roles."
Although many people would describe Hollywood as some sort of farm - it clearly wasn't the sort Ethan had in mind.
Since they separated, Uma has completed a number of films, including Paycheck, Be Cool and Prime and she's currently filming Accidental Husband with Brendan Fraser.
Babe Looks Super 'Uman
Screen beauty Uma Thurman looks blissfully happy as she suns herself on a tropical beach with her hunky new man.
The lovebirds splashed together in the surf at Uma's favourite resort on the exclusive Caribbean island of St Barts.
The 34-year-old Kill Bill star is reported to being moving in with LA hotel tycoon Andre Balzas - to a 16-room New York state mansion house. Thurman got together with the stud last year after her marriage to actor Ethan Hawke crumbled.
It was rumoured that the Before Sunset star had cheated on Uma with Canadian model Jen Perzow. Uma and Andre scotched rumours that they were engaged last month - saying they were both still married.
Thurman is still married to Hawke, while Balzas is still married to model Katie Ford.
Uma and Andre were joined at the resort by the two children she has with Ethan - Maya Ray, five, and Roan, 23 months. A fellow holidaymaker said: "While the kids were playing, Uma and her man couldn't keep their hands off each other."
Reunion for Travolta and Thurman
Hollywood stars John Travolta and Uma Thurman are to co-star in a film for the first time since their partnership in 1994's Pulp Fiction. The pair will star together in Be Cool, a sequel to Get Shorty which originally starred Travolta. The Tarantino movie was made famous by Travolta and Thurman's participation in a restaurant dance contest.
Travolta, 51, said he was "excited" to be back with Thurman, and that filming "interrupted our conversations".
The actors praised their on-screen chemistry, while Thurman, 34, said it was "very touching" to work again with someone she has such a connection to.
"I wouldn't even have thought sitting with John when we met - I was kind of a gnarly little 23-year-old - that we had such screen chemistry," added the actress.
The pair's presence in Pulp Fiction also involved an infamous drugs storyline, when Thurman's character Mia overdosed, prompting Travolta's Vincent to inject her with shot of adrenaline.
Their new characters in Be Cool are said to be model citizens compared to their Pulp Fiction predecessors.
Thurman is also starring in the film remake of stage show hit The Producers, alongside Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
"I'm in heaven. I'm in absolute hog-pig heaven. I'm really, literally having the best experience," said Thurman.
She also went on to become the star of Tarantino's Kill Bill movies.
Uma Thurman Can't 'Be Cool' About Being Mom
Not many actresses seem as cool as Uma Thurman. She's just come off starring in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" double features, she's replacing Nicole Kidman in "The Producers: The Movie Musical" and she's reprising a dance from her very cool "Pulp Fiction" scene with John Travolta in the ultra-cool sequel to "Get Shorty" called "Be Cool."
So, it's a surprise to see how un-cool she gets when she's talking about being a single mom of a 3-year-old boy, Roan, and 6-year-old girl, Maya, who she had with actor Ethan Hawke. They separated last year. "It's really hard," she says in a press conference with Zap2it.com after being asked about how she juggles acting with motherhood. "Actually, my husband said the other day -- I mean, my ex-husband -- said to me the other day, that I clearly was someone who wanted to be a full time mother, and still wanted to be an actress, and that I kept insisting I could do it, but I couldn't. I don't know, I really try."
She admits she thought about giving it all up. "I thought about quitting, and I think I can't quit, because I love what I do so much, and it's the wrong signal, and now I'm a single mother, so I also can't quit. I find it very tumultuous. So it's just something I'm fighting for, to try to find a way to be a satisfactory -- keep my foot in the business satisfactorily and still be creative and stimulated, and take care of my children."
When visiting the set, Zap2it watched how Thurman tended to her children during breaks. She models herself after her idol, Meryl Streep, who she just worked with in a romantic comedy called "Prime," scheduled out later this year.
"I think Meryl Streep seems to have a very successful home life, and obviously a more than satisfactory professional career, but I don't know her children," Thurman smiles. "Everybody's children are different and they each have different needs and having a broken home puts other challenges and stresses on the situation, makes it much harder."
She kids that she's scaled down her workload quite a bit lately. "About 10 adorable Chinese men used to work me out every day, six days a week, for many many hours, swinging at me, and I'd have to defend myself," she says. "Now, I just do my best."
No regular workout routine, no yoga, and no tattoos, she says. She does like to dance, and she enjoyed doing it again with Travolta, whom she's idolized since seeing him in "Grease" when she was a child.
"I was some ridiculously small age when 'Grease' came out and I had fell in love with dance and music," she says. "Basically I would do anything to dance in any movie, it sort of bit me with that fire."
Travolta says he suggested Thurman for the role in the sequel to his Chili Palmer character, written by Elmore Leonard. " I just trust Uma and we dance in character. If you look at 'Pulp Fiction,' we were dancing higher than a kite like people that were hell bent for death. In this movie, we're dancing for life, so it's two different ideas. That was novelty dancing and this is traditional dancing. So I just trusted a great actress and we would dance in character."
Thurman is dancing in "The Producers" movie after Kidman had to bow out. She's playing the character of Ula and she's trying to sing her part, too.
"I would say I'm a poor, mostly passable singer," Thurman admits. "They haven't projected anyone else to sing for me yet, so I've been like 'whew!' And when I signed on they said they would have someone if I needed, you know, they always mentioned it, so I feel I must be passing."
She sings the bawdy "Flaunt It" number, and is ready to dance again in a movie.
"All I want to do is dance," she laughs. "I'm not shooting for one month, so I'm ready. I've been just dancing and dancing."
Meanwhile, she's still juggling stardom and motherhood.
"That's still the big conundrum of my life, I hope I'm not failing as a parent as a result of being a professional woman," Thurman says. "But I try hard not to."
Also starring Vince Vaughn, Harvey Keitel, Andrew Benjamin, The Rock, Steven Tyler and Cedric the Entertainer, "Be Cool" opens nationwide on Friday, March 4.
Uma Thurman vows to carry on her acting career
Uma Thurman has vowed to carry on with her acting career - despite being a single mother-of-two.
The stunning actress, who split from husband Ethan Hawke last year, says she will do everything she can to balance her Hollywood career with raising her two children, Maya, six, and Roan, two.
She said: "I find it very tumultuous and difficult, but I wouldn't want to give it up.
It is just something I am fighting for: to keep my feet in the business satisfactorily, still be creatively stimulated and take care of my children."
Meanwhile, Uma says she's looking forward to her role in the remake of the Mel Brooks classic 'The Producers' - because she won't be covered in blood.
The Hollywood beauty, who replaced Nicole Kidman in the movie, says it will be a far cry from when she filmed the 'Kill Bill' movies.
She said: "I'm part of the dance team, which is more pleasant than being part of the fight team.
There's no fake blood involved."
Uma Thurman: Be Cool
Uma Thurman is not one to open up about any aspect of her personal life. Ferociously guarded, Thurman skirts around discussing love and family, yet while promoting "Be Cool", the sequel to the 90s comedy "Get Shorty", Thurman smiles sheepishly when asked about her Valentine Day plans. “Now that is a really sticky question. I don’t know if I can share.”
Rarely talking about life post-marriage, Thurman does admit that somewhere, in the recesses of her mind, lurks a hopeful romantic. “I don’t know. No, no, no, hopefully, we’ll see,” she says, laughingly. But the frequently busy actress, currently in rehearsals for The Producers, is trying to juggle her busy film career with motherhood. “It is really impossible. Actually my ex-husband said to me the other day, that I clearly was someone who wanted to be a full time mother and still wanted to be an actress and I kept insisting I could do it, but I couldn’t,” Thurman admits. “I really try to give all of myself. I mean things this year I have been really lucky, and I refuse to read a script that didn’t shoot in New York City, because I just needed to be home. It is a very difficult balance, and I have even thought about quitting, but then I think I can’t quit, because I love what I do so much and it is the wrong signal and now I am a single mother so I really can’t quit. But I don’t want to because I love what I do. I find it very tumultuous and difficult but I wouldn’t want to give up, so it is just something I am fighting for, to try to find a way to be in a satisfactory state, keep my foot in the business satisfactorily and still be creatively stimulated and take care of my children.”
For that reason she was drawn to Be Coll, Elmore Leonard’s self-deprecating satire of the Hollywood music industry, in which John Travolta returns as Chili Palmer, with Thurman cast as Edie, a woman trying to make it in the independent music scene. “In general I really like Elmore’s characters, because I think they are incredibly defined and they make acting a little easier, usually because they are very well filled out, very distinct, very potent kind of reduced characters and it sort of gives you a lot to start with in general.” Asked whether she sees parallels between Edie and the actress, Thurman sidesteps the question. “I think I identify with all my characters, so the idea of there being a parallel never even occurred to me. But I guess there is a certain kind of vulnerability mixed with a degree of toughness and her swagger which I guess I could relate to which tries to keep it hidden that she is actually a softie. But I don’t really think about characters in any way of them being parallel to me.”
While Thurman dances once again in Be Cool, we’ll be seeing more of Thurman dancing the lights fantastic in The Producers, opening later this year. For the actress, dancing in a movie musical is a different ballgame. “I am doing Ulla and so I dance every day now so I am beyond overjoyed and totally excited, I can’t tell you. At the moment I am part of a dance team which is a little bit more pleasant then being part of the fight team only because there is no fake blood involved. But the guys who did the Broadway musical and the director directed the Broadway musical, so the people I am working with right now are all basically the blood and flesh of Broadway. I am discovering that their discipline and their attention to detail in their work ethic is so unlike anybody in the movies, that I really look at them and go: ‘boy, you do realize you work very hard. People who make films don’t work this hard.’ That is really hard to say because people do work hard in the film, but these people put that to rest, but their heart and their passion for what they do is just extraordinary. it has been so much fun for me.” As for Thurman’s singing, she admits it’s OK. “I would say I made a poor but hopefully passable singer. They haven’t suggested anyone sing for me yet, so I feel like, phew! And when I signed on they said they would have someone if I needed it, but no one has mentioned it so I feel I must be passing, with some tiny check box in the corner of my vocal chart,” she adds, laughingly.
While there are rumours that a new Kill Bill is underway, Thurman says it’s unlikely with her participation, but she will next shot Prime, with Meryl Streep, “a romantic comedy and it is coming out in the fall.”
BE COOL OPENS MARCH 10.
Uma Thurman: Is The Rampaging Over?
She slinks into the London hotel room and immediately captivates everyone present. The stunningly beautiful star of Kill Bill Volume 2 is back in town to promote the eagerly-awaited sequel toTarantino's October hit. But this time she's without her director, the Q to her U in the team that created the character of The Bride, the vengeance-seeking heroine of both movies. Thurman is affable, laughs a lot and is clearly proud of both her creative contribution to the film as well as the final product. Not only that but she can easily cope without having her motormouth mentor at her side.
After dispensing of Lucy Liu and Vivica Fox in the first film, the sequel sees The Bride find her final two victims - Michael Madsen as Bill's low-life brother, and Daryl Hannah, the eye-patched killer from Volume 1 - before moving in on her prey in the form of David Carradine. But while the first film was hugely stylised with fast-cut martial arts sequences, the second is more of a sombre affair punctuated with trademark Tarantionesque outbursts of violence. More Sergio Leone than The Shaw Brothers.
One such scene involves Thurman being buried alive by Madsen, and relying on her martial arts training to literally punch her way out of her grave. Thurman is now able to reflect on the discomfort of shooting it. "Well it was claustrophobic", she says. "We shot it from every angle conceivable but in the end very little was used on screen so we increased the fear factor by using the raw sound effects." It's clear that she was prepared to go to any length to capture the authenticity Tarantino demanded, and as a result came away with "lots of bumps, fat knuckles, bruises - you name it."
While the two have a symbiotic, mutually successful working relationship, it's clear that Thurman still eyes Tarantino with some respect. "He's all talk, which I love, but when the talk stops, it's the moment of truth. He sees everything from the eyes of the audience, and everything about the whole experience of watching his films comes from that." In a similar show of affection, Tarantino recently declared that his muse was robbed in not winning the Oscar for Best Actress at this year's Academy Awards.
Fans will be delighted to learn that Thurman does not rule out Kill Bill Volume 3, allegedly to be made sometime around 2019. "All of his characters are very much alive, and I know he has visions of HoneyBunny, Mia Wallace, as well as a very good idea of the plot for Kill Bill Volume 3. And she is quick to reiterate her belief that the films do not promote violence. "Of course I don't believe there should be any censorship. People have to have creative freedom, and I believe in him as an artist."
After a career which has seen her "change gears a lot of times, crash the car but regain control", Thurman is back at the top of the Hollywood A-list. With a sequel to Get Shorty entitled Be Cool in production and the romantic comedy The Accidental Comedy in development, it looks like she's back for good.
Travolta and Uma Learn to 'Be Cool!'
In a leaky brick warehouse just next to a railroad in downtown Los Angeles, John Travolta calms Uma Thurman before they shoot a scene for the "Get Shorty" sequel, "Be Cool!"
Travolta points out a revolving lamp that sits on a front desk of the set that has been transformed into a hip, modern record company and he names the kinds of jets on the lamp. Then, he snaps into character and becomes the ruthless Chili Palmer.
"Chili is one of my favorite characters," says Travolta during a break. "He's like the James Bond of the streets, but he's also a guy with a kind of enthusiasm, with a childlike passion for movies, music and this industry."
In the sequel to the story penned by novelist Elmore Leonard, Palmer abandons the movie-making industry and becomes a music mogul, bringing his wiseguy mobster mentality to the world of rap and hip-hop. Travolta, who has made a few records of his own during his "Saturday Fever Days," laughs when Zap2it.com asks him if the music industry is more dangerous than the movie biz.
"Yes, because I think the kind of Mafia influence in the music industry is a little more historic," says Travolta. "Even before 'Grease' when I did records, even as a kid, I could sense leveraging going on around me, and there definitely was a heavier vibe than there was a movie vibe."
Although he's met a few sleazy characters in his day (and played them, too, most recently in "The Punisher"), Travolta says, "Chili is not a mimic of anything I know, but a compilation of many people I reflect on growing up in the movie industry and on the street. He's an original guy. He's a Sean Connery of the street. In the book, the details guide you how to play it."
He says he suggested Uma Thurman for the role, reprising the chemistry they had in "Pulp Fiction." As she's off in the corner of the set playing with her children between takes while a makeup person sprays her hair incessantly, he says, "I'm wonderful friends with Uma, I love her, and I like us on the screen together, we have a natural chemistry and trust each other on screen. It's a wonderful thing to have that professional experience."
Although other top-rated actresses wanted the part, she ended up taking the exotic role as Palmer's main squeeze. Travolta says that although he, like Palmer, probably prefers Frank Sinatra, he's aware of other new music.
"I have tons of CDs and musicians that they've been giving me that I should be familiar with, but I've known about Black Eyed Peas, some gangsta rap, and Outkast, of course," says Travolta. Outkast's frontman Andre 3000 has done so well in his small part as a band member for an agent played by Cedric the Entertainer, the musician's part was expanded, and he's become a scene stealer.
A makeup person brushes ash off the shoulder of Thurman's peach outfit and she puts out her Marlboro cigarette while another assistant takes away her knitting, which she works on during down time. She and Travolta re-take their scene a dozen times with Paul Adelstein as Hy and Kimberly J. Brown as Tiffany, two office workers in Palmer's music company.
The dialogue involves mentions of Madonna, Vanilla Ice and Aerosmith. Interrupted by a train going past the warehouse, Travolta adlibs, "I'll take the Amtrak to San Diego!"
Director F. Gary Gray throws down his NYN baseball cap and yells "Cut!" They take a break and he eats fruit salad and drinks tea. He directed "Friday," "A Man Apart" and "The Italian Job," but now he's taking on a sequel featuring a classic character.
"I'm not worried because the script was great from the beginning," Gray says. "I can have my own stamp on this because the only existing character is Chili Palmer, and he's in a whole new environment. It's much more dangerous and much more contemporary."
After spending 15 years in the music business, (he won an MTV Award for directing TLC's "Waterfall" video) Gray says he's having fun working with Travolta and Thurman, as well as a directing a duet between Travolta and Harvey Keitel. Earlier in the day, Gray filmed James Woods being murdered in an over-the-top fashion, becoming the movie's first victim. The Oscar-nominated actor throws in different quirks in every take, pulling on his zipper in one shot, telling a joke in another shot.
After his scene is done, he's filmed while dancing crazily -- clown dancing, the call it -- so they can use it in the closing credits of the film.
Travolta looks across the warehouse and says, "I'm not going to do that!" When a crew member explains they'll want everyone to do it some point, Travolta smiles and says, "Now I'm nervous. I don't want to look silly. But then, I saw James Woods do it, and I guess I have nothing to worry about."
"Be Cool!" is scheduled for release on March 4, 2005.
Uma Thurman: Kill Bill
"Kill Bill Vol. 1" (and next year's "Vol. 2") are the first flicks motor-mouthed director Quentin Tarantino has unleashed in years, a split-in-two revenge epic where he's cast his old pal Uma Thurman as a former assassin who wakes up from a lengthy coma to seek revenge on her teammates. MTV News' Ryan J. Downey sat down with "Q & U" (as their names appear at one point in the credits) to get the goods on their latest genre-reference-packed caper.
MTV: How did the idea for "Kill Bill" come about?
Uma Thurman: Back when we were shooting "Pulp Fiction," one day after work some cast and crew and Quentin and I all went out for a drink. And Quentin was talking to me about genre films, and how many great roles for women there were in these films, and how strong women were in them. So I got going about this character and she was an assassin, and I brought up the idea of the wedding-chapel massacre and her driving back to L.A. in a blood-spattered wedding gown with her veil flying, on this road to revenge, and we kind of went back and forth about it. And right on the spot, he's like, "Yeah, and the villain is, he's like this agent for assassins, he's like the Mike Ovitz of assassins — he's the pimp of assassins! And his name's Bill and the movie's gonna be called 'Kill Bill!' ''
People make up stuff and get excited about it all the time, but what doesn't often happen is that the person that you're talking with goes home and scrawls out like eight extraordinary pages of the opening. And he read them to me, and it was really exciting. He's an extraordinarily creative person with just brilliant ideas.
And then he went and did "Jackie Brown" and I did other things, and seven years later I ran into him at a party and I asked him what he was doing and he said he'd been writing this giant war epic and it sounded pretty fantastic and I said, "Whatever happened to those pages? Did you lose them? You know, that 'Kill Bill' movie?" And he said, "No, no, no, I still have them." So we got back in touch and little did I know, but he went home, found the pages and got hit by some "Kill Bill" arrow infused with passion and was writing secretly. And then he wanted to give me the script for my birthday. That started this kind of incredible time for me, to be let inside the creative process of somebody like him and get to hear all of the fresh pages.
MTV: What do you think about the similarities between "Kill Bill" and the Bruce Lee movie "Game of Death"?
Thurman: Well there's that, and there's the "Fox Force Five" element here, too. Quentin basically wanted to make the movie where he could celebrate and enjoy and play with and reinvent every trick he ever saw in those movies, or that he ever saw in his head for his own version of those movies. But he wanted to do it all in one movie. So he was just wild with passion for this stuff.
MTV: How did you train for the fight scenes?
Thurman: You can be taught to do a dance sequence and you can do that dance sequence, [but that doesn't mean you're a dancer]. What they ultimately had to try to train me to do, which I didn't quite get, was to be a fighter, at least in the short term. I had to be able to assimilate new moves, coordinate them together and be able to, in a matter of minutes, bring them to camera at full speed. This I didn't get in advance, especially when it came to the sword work. That's scary. Make a wrong move with that thing and even though the stunt sword is wood, it still hurts. I can promise you that.
MTV: So there was no fake fighting in this movie.
Thurman: Quentin hates the CGI — he doesn't want to fake anything. If he could have cut me open and had real blood, we would have done that.
MTV: Were you trying to avoid the clichéd "Matrix"-style fighting in "Kill Bill"?
Quentin Tarantino: I've seen CGI done really well. When James Cameron sunk the Titanic, that was fantastic. My favorite movie of the year so far was "Terminator 3" — I thought that was terrific. And the thing is, there was tons of CGI in that, but they also committed to shooting fantastic action scenes. They just did the impossible in there with the CGI. But having said all that, I'm sick of that crap, man. I'm sick of it.
The minute I see CGI in the trailer, I don't even want to go see the movie. When they're doing stuff in CGI that was always done with live action before, you're not going to impress me. In "Bulletproof Monk," with that GI Joe-looking CGI guy swinging on the helicopter, how am I gonna be impressed by that when I've seen Sam Raimi do the real thing in "Darkman," where they're dangling a stuntman on the end of a wire through the skyscrapers of downtown L.A.? How am I gonna be impressed with a car chase that goes the wrong way on a freeway if most of it is done with CGI when I've watched William Friedken do the real thing in 'To Live and Die in L.A."?
MTV: It's interesting how the "exploitive" Quentin Tarantino has made a movie with so many strong female roles.
Tarantino: Maybe it's a little different when it comes to American cinema, where they don't have a tradition of having female warriors, female avengers. But I'm jumping off from Japanese samurai movies and Hong Kong kung-fu movies. The female warrior, the female avenger, the female on a quest for blood for the wrongs done to her is a staple of kung-fu movies.
If you talk to women who didn't grow up watching kung-fu movies — and not many girls grew up watching kung-fu movies; if there are any, I'll marry them — they go, "Oh no, that's not my thing. I don't think I would like that." But then if you sit 'em down — it's badly dubbed, all right, get the giggles out of your system for the first two minutes — and just watch it and get caught up in it, they are just so taken with it. They go, "I didn't know kung-fu movies were so girl-powered. I feel empowered watching a woman be the avenger, be the hero." That's what we're doing with "Kill Bill."
I think there's an element of "Kill Bill" where the women are also feminine. There is a feminine aspect to their characters and to what they do and why they do it. When Uma Thurman is going on her revenge, she's not going on revenge for herself, she's going on revenge for her unborn daughter that was murdered. You've heard of mother's love? This is mother's fury.
Uma Thurman: The Golden Bowl
So what drew you to this role?
It was just the most emotional role I think I've ever read, and I was feeling very emotional and felt like I should do it. She was such a complicated character and did so many contradictory things, and was really challenged by it.
Do you think that part of the drama seemed to come out of the very inner silences and that kind of very restrained era. Do you think that's true?
Certainly the social malaise was that everyone was held back. It gives a different type of tension. The stakes are different than they would be today, you would have to alter that utterly.
How similar was it to what you were expecting?
It was really very close to how I dreamed it would be. It's hard because you are watching yourself and you are trying to get out of your excruciating auto-criticisms and be able to watch your own film and I find it takes probably more than one viewing to see things objectively. I'm watching the "Labour of Love" and feeling so many things from it, and Jim's work is so beautiful, and the fact that Ishmail accomplished this with the budget that he did is literally cinema magic, just to do that by itself. Jeremy Northam’s work was so fantastic and Kate Beckinsale and James Fox and Angelica Houston and I was transfixed watching them all. And I couldn't move the whole time.
You've said already Charlotte is complex, do you like her as a character?
I do like her, because for all her faults she is essentially ruled by her heart and she suffers a slightly immoral streak but it's such an American point of view to really judge her for that in the first place. It is all the more interesting because she is an American woman and yet, raised in Europe without parents and no money she's very liberated in an almost crazy way. In her setting she is kind of nuts and she walks this incredibly thin line between being extremely self-possessed to the point of ridiculously self-possessed and totally emotionally out of control and unstoppable at the same time.
What prompted you to take "The Golden Bowl"?
After my daughter was born, I knew that I wanted to do dramatic work, and do things that I wanted to do. Just do things that would satisfy me personally and play hard roles that I could fail in or succeed in.
What was it like playing the character Charlotte?
It was really emotionally stirring to play her for three months. She's a character who is somewhere between a diva and someone having a nervous breakdown. When she starts disintegrating, it's like pulling a thread from a sweater because she staked everything on truth and success. It took a while to get back into life at home after I finished. Although now I have my daughter, I'm always coming home every time I come back in the door.
You're being touted to work with Quentin Tarantino again, in his film "Kill Bill". Do you still see "Pulp Fiction" as the highlight of your career so far?
Not really. Because there's so many key moments in an actor's career. That might be the most obvious, most recent one. But a key moment is every time a great director casts you. Because you have the potential to make a great movie. Every director that melded with me and understood me as an actor has transformed me as a creative person and has transformed my career because they're all in step, they're so profoundly intertwined. It's mysterious how it works. Quentin and I had a remarkable relationship, creatively. It was the first time I'd worked with a peer.
Uma and Ethan in court
UMA THURMAN had a tense meeting with her ex-husband, Ethan Hawke, in a New York City courthouse, Star magazine reports. The ``Kill Bill'' goddess met with Hawke to finalize their divorce proceedings at Manhattan Supreme Court, where the former couple discussed the custody arrangement for their two children, Maya, 6 and Roan, 3.
Uma's day in court
Banters with Ethan at divorce hearing "Kill Bill" star Uma Thurman and hottie Ethan Hawke seemed positively cordial in court yesterday as they had their first meeting with the judge overseeing their divorce.
Although they sat in separate rows while waiting for their case to be called, Thurman and Hawke seemed amiable, even bantering later while seated at a conference table with Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saralee Evans.
Nevertheless, each came to court with a high-powered divorce lawyer. Thurman was represented by Robert Stephan Cohen, whose clients include Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. Hawke was accompanied by Eleanor Alter, who has represented Christie Brinkley and Mia Farrow.
The 30-minute conference, much of it done in whispers, seemed to focus mostly on the pair's two children, Maya, 6, and Roan, 3, and Hawke's visiting schedule with them.
Evans said custody of the children would remain primarily with Thurman, but seemed to suggest the pair should be flexible about visitation.
"Because of your professions - you travel quite a bit - it is not as cut and dry as it is for most people," Evans said.
The celebrity couple fell in love on the set of 1997's sci-fi thriller "Gattaca" and were wed in New York in 1998.
But the glamorous marriage broke up in 2003 after Hawke reportedly had an extramarital affair with 22-year-old Canadian model Jen Perzow. But Hawke told "2-0/20" last March that infidelity was not a problem.
"Uma and I did not split up over anybody's infidelity ... We had a lot of problems before I ever went up to Montreal," Hawke told correspondent Chris Connelly.
Thurman and Hawke declined to comment yesterday, as did their lawyers.
Hawke quietly filed for the divorce in Manhattan Supreme Court on Nov. 22, just days after Thurman was reported to be house hunting with her new beau, hotelier Andre Balazs.
The breakup comes as both Thurman and Hawke are riding high with good reviews for their recent releases. She won raves as the killer bride in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 2." Hawke's "Before Sunset," meanwhile, was cited as one of the Top 10 movies of 2004, and he got decent reviews for "Assault on Precinct 13," which is now in theaters.
Uma Thurman: Her father's daughter
Having met Uma Thurman at Cannes when James Ivory and Ismail Merchant were giving a party for the star of their film, The Golden Bowl, I knew her name was, well, Uma Thurman.
What I did not realise until now is that her middle name is Karuna. For that, too, she has to thank her father, Robert Thurman, America’s most respected Buddhist.
Although Uma is world famous for her roles in such Hollywood movies as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, her father is, if anything, an even bigger star. In 1997, he was listed among Time magazine’s 25 most influential people.
The 63-year-old has written a number of scholarly books on Buddhism, visited India several times, is a close friend of the Dalai Lama and is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University. He is also president of Tibet House in New York, an institution dedicated to preserving Tibetan culture.
“I heard him two years ago in Delhi and he was amazing,” says Alka Bagri, who has invited Thurman to deliver one of the ‘Understanding Buddhism’ lectures sponsored by the Bagri Foundation this year.
While her father-in-law, Lord Bagri, former chairman of the London Metal Exchange, and her husband, Apurv, concentrate on their business in copper and other metals, Alka is given a free hand to work with Asia House on the list of speakers.
Thurman is due to speak at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies on February 28 on Buddhism, Tantra and the ‘Inner Modern’ Tibetan Identity.
Thurman’s lecture is certain to be over subscribed. However, Alka is not taking the risk of inviting Uma, lest the occasion become too “glam”.
This may or may not be significant but Uma’s six-year-old daughter is called Maya Ray.
Uma back into blockbusters
A few years ago, Uma Thurman was one of Hollywood's classiest actresses. So why is she appearing in gory potboilers like Kill Bill?
Thurman badly needed a blockbuster after going through a down period in which she starred in a series of such forgettable movies as Chelsea Walls, The Golden Bowl, Tape and Vatel. Mindful that 1994's Pulp Fiction had been one of her biggest hits, the 34-year-old actress turned to director Quentin Tarantino, who came up with the Kill Bill concept for her. She has since wrapped a new, less violent thriller titled Be Cool, due March 4, in which she reunites with her Pulp Fiction co-star John Travolta. And she is working on Prime, a romantic comedy in which she plays a career woman who falls in love with the much younger son of her therapist, played by Meryl Streep.
Off-screen, Thurman has kept a low profile since the breakup of her marriage to Ethan Hawke. She has been quietly dating hotelier Andre Balazs and is spending time with her children, Maya, 6, and Roan, 3. She seems to have become philosophical about the failure of her marriages (she was briefly married to actor Gary Oldman in the early '90s), saying, "It's better to have a relationship with someone who cheats on you than with someone who doesn't flush the toilet." Which is certainly an interesting way of looking at it.
Strong Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman walked in with the glow of a woman who’d just kicked her cheating husband out of the house and begun to move on with her life, and realized that her new life was only beginning. Knowing some of her personal troubles from the tabloids that even I pick up in the supermarket checkout line, Thurman seemed in wonderful spirits.
When you see her in Kill Bill, you’ll wonder if she just used her Samurai skills to kick Ethan’s ass. She wins some brutal martial arts battles. It took three months of training to prepare for action, and eight weeks to shoot the climactic samurai battle in Volume 1, so we can only imagine what’s to come in Volume 2. Thurman plays a woman who is assassinated by her own gang of agents, while pregnant, on her wedding day. She survives and wakes up from a coma four years later and starts taking out her colleagues to avenge her groom and unborn child.
So begins the massive coverage of Kill Bill. Do people still say “Uma…Oprah” to you? Whenever they can. I love Oprah though, so I don’t mine.
How did the training fit in with your pregnancy? I wasn’t training while I was pregnant, no. I started three months after I had my baby.
Was it a good way to get back in shape? It’s a way. I was very overweight [from pregnancy] so there were lots of people trying to stop me from eating.
Will you continue training? Well, I haven’t been training in a while. As soon as I have some time and I put this movie out, it did give me a kind of pleasure from the physical activity and exerting myself and pushing myself that I’d never had before.
Where did you find this character’s rage? It’s a pretty scary idea [to lose a baby]. Like for a writer they say write what you know, as a performer you find it in yourself, in your heart. You try to live it, try to have it be real for you. It’s painful for me to have to imagine. One of the fun things with Quentin is to emotionally turn on the dime. The character is very much like a steel rod. She’s a very tough character. What he had me there to do was to bring her humanity to the situation. For the House of Blue Leaves sequence, there I was shooting that one sequence for eight weeks. The normal thing for an actor is you have scenes, you have dialogue and things that are familiar that you’re skilled to work towards your whole career. You know what to do when you get in a scene with dialogue, and here I was in this giant scene, him going mad with the blood and the this and the that. I just treated it like I was Lillian Gish. I was in a silent film and to keep my sanity, just go through the sequence moment for moment, close-up to close-up to fight moment and do what I do and make it real.
How do you deal with rage? Suppress it.
Did you ever get into schoolyard fights as a kid? I have three brothers, so I’ve been thrown through some walls. But no, I was not. I’m not a violent person, and I can talk, so I usually get around a lot of stuff.
Will you let your kids see this? Well, my little ones won't, but they're five. Although, my daughter, by the end of shooting, she would come in and be like, “Oh, can I paint some of the blood on?” I was covered in blood. It's a rated R film, and I know there'll be some people screaming bloody murder, I'm sure, but I found when I saw it, compared to the hype of the violence that was in advance of the film, the only thing that made me uncomfortable in my seat was actually the anime. Maybe it's because I made the film and so I'm not a good person to ask, but I found the same thing with Pulp Fiction. I can't, myself, watch real violence. It's so powerfully effective to me that under my feet, I feel the pain that I'm watching. I can't bear it, but I think that he walks such a strange line with it that it's fantasy enough. It's not personalized. When he wants it to hurt, it hurts, but it's not misanthropic, or it's not mean.
Will it be hard for audiences to relate to such a violent character? He wrote her like that. He wrote it tough. I had conversations like, “Quentin, I know it's in self defense, but I kill a mother in front of the child in the first scene. I mean, you're really making it hard for me, okay?” It's tough. It's tough to carry a movie and have your man stack the cards against you sometimes like that. He liked making it hard. He liked it. I have to give him credit for that. I mean, he doesn't want it to be easy. He's not trying to titillate you exactly. I'm not going to say that I know what he's trying to do, but he wants it to be hard. Sure, there are moments where the violence is comedic, but he wants everything to have a price, and he wants to shock the audience. He wants them to go, “I don't know if I like this person,” and he wants you to stay awake in your seat.
What’s the toughest scene in the movie to do? The toughest scene, it’s difficult to say. Everything had to be tough. I mean, the character goes through an ordeal. And wait until you see the
second half, okay. It’s not over. It goes on and on and on and [Tarantino] needs to feel that it’s real. He doesn’t want shortcuts. He wants to see it real. He wants to see it tricked. He wants to see it every which way. And I don't think he believes in the easy hit. He would laugh to me about the scene where I’m in the car, I’m struggling. He goes, “I was watching this footage and you were struggling and I see your tears run down your face and you’ve got this weird muscle you’ve developed in your hand, I never saw that. I loved when you’re sweating and you look awful, it was so great. And then I realized I made you do it 15 more times.” So we explored every single moment to the nth degree. It’s hard to tell you what’s the toughest. And for me, just having to make contact with these guys training me and having to actually contact a body with a sword, and with Quentin who’s relentless, “Harder, harder, more, more, more, harder.” Oh geez, I’m not hitting him any harder than that, no. You go put your pads on. Because you know, the stunt men always want to be tough and you can feel it. You make the contact and you can feel that you’re hitting skin, you’re hitting a body, not hitting a pad. And I’d get so mad. “I can’t do my job if you don’t put those pads on. I don’t care how tough, you’re tough already. Okay? Just get some pads on so I can hit you with abandon.” And also, you’ve got to be really precise because I’m swinging those swords and even the stunt sword is still a wooden spike with a tip on it, and you’re swinging it within inches of eyes and things that can’t be protected, and it caused me tremendous anxiety.
When you read the script, did you know then how much it would take from you? No, no, no. He always likes to let you know at the last moment. The training I found out about earlier. In this case, it sort of was different because I was always inside and around this movie as it was created, so I never actually had the normal thing. You would see the script, you’d know or you don’t know the director and you read it and either it hits you, it doesn’t hit you, you think “I want, I don’t want.” It’s very primal, it’s very simple. In this case, I spent years with him by the time I got this script, hearing chapter after chapter and sections rewritten and redeveloped. She was an assassin and in the very beginning, earliest idea, she was an assassin and she was going around wasting people in all these fun Femme Nikita kind of ways. The Samurai stuff came much later. The Samurai stuff came in the last three years. It was not part of the original thought. It came from his inspiration, Hong Kong film and Japanese cinema and Samurai swords. There is a samurai sword in Pulp Fiction so you can see there is a lineage of his fascination with that.
How did you feel about the movie becoming two films? My take on it, not from a marketing standpoint because that's not my thought or interest because I don't know about that stuff, but my take on it, first of all, having been involved with the movie from the beginning, the movie always had an extraordinary, episodic, saga like form. It always had chapter form. It always had these amazing tangents and in fact, watching him write, he wrote reams of backstory, forward story, lateral story to all of these different characters, characters that you've never even seen and for both movies. This world was so thoroughly investigated by him. If he had set himself to it, it could've been eight movies. It could be many, many different things, and having made the film with him for 156 days, doubling the schedule and three months of training and three years of watching him write the script and having heard about it for 10 years, the movie, it's not like Lord Of The Rings.It's an experience film, it's an ordeal, it's a saga. It's kind of like a jam session. I mean, I think that his narrative is very straight, Kill Bill. And in a way, what's the cliffhanger? It's called Kill Bill. What do you think is going to happen? We're not going to Mordor and we're not going to Shilop the spider or whatever her name is. So, it's a very straight line, but it's a sensorial movie, it's a torturous, funny, insane, fantastical riff in a way. It sort of breaks form more than it tries to cliff-hang you or this you that you. It's a creative kind of free fall in a way. So, God only knows what can happen with something that's so outside of the box.
Why do they bleep your name? That one eludes me. You'll find out her name. You will definitely find out her name, I can tell you right now, but that'd ruin it.
Uma Thurman Will Star in TAG Heuer Campaign
Patrick Demarchelier in the TAG Heuer advertising campaign presents Uma Thurman, Maria Sharapova, Tiger Woods, and Jeff Gordon.
TAG Heuer, the LVMH (Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) watchmaking company, unveils its four newest brand ambassadors - film superstar Uma Thurman, golf legend Tiger Woods, tennis champion Maria Sharapova, and NASCAR icon Jeff Gordon - in the 2005 TAG Heuer "What Are You Made Of" advertising campaign captured by world-renowned fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
By adding Uma Thurman and Maria Sharapova to its roster of brand ambassadors, TAG Heuer broadens the positioning of its brand from sports inspired to sports, fashion and glamour directed. In addition to being featured in the TAG Heuer advertising campaign, the new ambassadors will also have an active role in new product development, public relations and visual marketing.
Intelligent, glamorous and passionate, Uma Thurman personifies the myriad richness of the TAG Heuer woman. A charismatic performer, Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for her extraordinary performance in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, she inspired and seduced audiences in countless movies, starting in 1988 with Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons. In her most recent roles, Quentin Tarantino's blockbuster double bill of Kill Bill, she demonstrates the athletic sensibility and timing of a professional athlete.
According to Uma Thurman, "I like the image of becoming the TAG Heuer woman. She is simultaneously strong, yet feminine, energetic, determined, and seductive."
Tennis champion Maria Sharapova becomes TAG Heuer's youngest brand ambassador. In just two seasons, she became one of the top-ranking tennis players in the world and the winner of the 2004 Wimbledon and WTA year-end championships. Maria Sharapova has made her mark on the pro tennis circuit, quickly advancing to the number four spot and winning two of the biggest tournaments in championship tennis.
According to the 17-year-old Russian tennis star and third youngest Wimbledon Champion in WTA history, "To represent a brand as legendary as TAG Heuer is a privilege. I am thrilled to become a TAG Heuer brand ambassador. To me, TAG Heuer is a perfect fit because I love fine watches, glamour and winning. I look forward to building a strong relationship with TAG Heuer in the coming years."
In blending Hollywood superstardom and top-ranking sports champions, TAG Heuer further defines its "What Are You Made Of" campaign to strongly identify the watchmaker by fusing sports-inspired, highly-stylized, and distinctive designs with glamour and fashion. No stranger to Hollywood, TAG Heuer partnered with Steve McQueen as the brand's long-standing ambassador for the Monaco chronograph. He immortalized the blue squared-off chronograph by wearing it in the 1970 hit movie Le Mans.
Patrick Demarchelier was selected as the photographer for this campaign because of his artistic photographic genius and unprecedented ability to portrait fashion and beauty as fine art.