When the Harvey Weinstein revelations first broke, the world’s eyes fell upon Uma Thurman. A Hollywood icon, fierce feminist and incidentally the woman who made Weinstein a living, film legend.
After vowing months ago, through clenched teeth, to speak about the issue when she felt less angry, Thurman has indeed, chronicled her own tortured history with the film mogul in an interview with the New York Times.
Cast as sexy Mia Wallace in 1994’s iconic film, Pulp Fiction, and as Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill, 1 (2003) and 2 (2004), Uma Thurman personified fire and grit. She was Quentin Tarantino’s muse and, as such, became indispensable to Weinstein’s production company, Miramax.
Indeed, Pulp Fiction was such a hit that Weinstein himself, acknowledged Thurman’s significant contribution to his success. During the interview, she says the producer “introduced her to President Barack Obama at a fund-raiser as the reason he had his house.”
But despite his fervent regard for her talent and the prestige she’d brought him, Weinstein’s predatory nature was never going to stop short. After a number of failed advances, he allegedly assaulted her in a London hotel, batting her head and forcing her to the ground.
“It was such a bat to the head. He pushed me down. He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things.” She describes. “You’re like an animal wriggling away, like a lizard. I was doing anything I could to get the train back on the track. My track. Not his track.”
Thurman recounts the way Weinstein would praise her work, validating her as an actor and causing her to ignore possible warning signs.
“I knew him pretty well before he attacked me,” she said. “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.”
When Thurman confronted Weinstein over his behaviour, warning him that he would lose his career, reputation and family if he attacked her again, she was met with a sharp counter threat: He could derail her career, swiftly and easily if he wished to.
She left, shaking and terrified.
The biggest internal conflict Thurman experiences now, is knowing she could have changed the fate for so many women who fell victim to Weinstein over the years.
“The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was,” she explained.
“I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of Kill Bill, a movie that symbolises 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.” She said.
Weinstein’s assault however, isn’t even Thurman’s most horrifying memory of that era who describes an incident she endured on the set of Kill Bill as “dehumanization to the point of death.”
In a scene which required a professional stunt-person, director, Quentin Tarantino grew adamant that Thurman take on the task herself. She was coerced to drive a car which had been reconfigured and was not “working that well” down a sandy highway at 40 miles per hour so her hair would blow back. Despite Thurman’s repeated pleas of objection, Tarantino wasn’t to be told ‘no’.
She crashed. The car was a wreck–as were her knees and neck. She had severe concussion and believed she may never walk again.
The incident would lead to an ongoing feud between Tarantino and his muse. Thurman, accused him of trying to kill her, and Tarantino, fearing legal consequences concealed the footage of the accident for years.
Inspired by the global movement of women standing up against violence, Thurman’s public recollection of Weinstein’s abuse and Tarantino’s willful coercion adds a powerful voice to the chorus.
A long career in the spotlight, working with powerful, potent and dangerous men, has left Thurman with an enduring life philosophy.
“It has taken me 47 years to stop calling people who are mean to you ‘in love’ with you.” She says. “It took a long time because I think that as little girls we are conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection and that is like the sort of era that we need to evolve out of.”