When Uma Thurman was asked, at the October premiere of her Broadway play The Parisian Woman whether or not she had anything to say about Harvey Weinstein, the producer who helped launch her to stardom in Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill films, she answered that she would prefer to wait until she was less angry before she said anything.
“I used the word ‘anger’ but I was more worried about crying, to tell you the truth,” she told The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd in an interview published online Saturday in which she details an alleged attack by Weinstein, and discussed a fraught relationship with frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino.
“I knew him pretty well before he attacked me,” she said of Weinstein, explaining that he deliberately groomed her while they worked together on Pulp Fiction, the film film that rocketed Thurman, Tarantino, and Weinstein’s Miramax Films to the forefront of American cinema in the 1990s. “He used to spend hours talking to me about material and complimenting my mind and validating me. It possibly made me overlook warning signs. This was my champion. I was never any kind of studio darling. He had a chokehold on the type of films and directors that were right for me.”
Thurman told Dowd about an incident in a Paris hotel in which Weinstein put a bathrobe on and told her to follow him into a steam room while the two were arguing about a script. “I was standing there in my full black leather outfit—boots, pants, jacket. And it was so hot and I said, ‘This is ridiculous, what are you doing?’ And he was getting very flustered and mad and he jumped up and ran out.” Not long afterward, Weinstein attempted to force himself on her again at the Savoy Hotel in London, Thurman said. According to the actress, he pushed her down and tried to expose himself to her. Thurman described her behavior as “like an animal wriggling away, like a lizard” as she did her best to get away from him.
Shortly after, she went back to his hotel again to confront him about it, bringing a friend with her. While the friend was told to wait outside the room on a couch, Thurman recalls telling Weinstein, “If you do what you did to me to other people you will lose your career, your reputation and your family, I promise you.” When she exited the room quite some time later looking flustered and upset, the friend said that Thurman told her Weinstein had threatened to ruin her career. A spokesperson for Weinstein told the Times that he denies ever threatening Thurman but that he acknowledges that he did make a pass at her in the Parisian hotel room, and that he immediately apologized for the London incident.
Thurman’s deteriorating relationship with Weinstein helped wreck her collaboration with Tarantino, she said. Thurman says Tarantino confronted Weinstein about the attempted assault she’d told him about before, after which Weinstein apologized to Thurman. A Weinstein spokesperson confirmed to the Times that he had done this. What ultimately ruined Thurman and Tarantino’s working relationship, she said, was an accident on the set of Kill Bill during which the director pushed her to drive a car that a teamster had told her wasn’t fully safe. Thurman crashed the car and was hospitalized. She returned to set with her neck in a brace, permanently damaged knees, and a concussion. She had a huge fight with Tarantino in which she accused him of trying to kill her, and another later when he and Miramax refused to release the footage of the crash to her. It took Thurman 15 years to obtain the video, which the Times also published with the interview.
“I approached Quentin in very serious terms and told him that he had let Uma down as a director and as a friend,” Thurman’s husband at the time, Ethan Hawke, told the Times. He said Tarantino was “was very upset with himself and asked for my forgiveness.” (Tarantino did not comment for the Times piece.) After Weinstein’s fall sparked the current movement against assault and abuse in Hollywood, Thurman handed over her own research to the police—“Solving my own Nancy Drew mystery”—and put the pressure on The Weinstein Company to release video of the crash.
“I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did,” Thurman said. “Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of Kill Bill, a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.”
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