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Uma Thurman Says She Was Dehumanized ‘to the Point of Death’ While Filming Kill Bill

Thurman. Photo: Walter McBride/WireImage

In the same New York Times interview that alleged Harvery Weinstein had a history of assaulting her, Uma Thurman also spoke out against the dehumanizing experience of shooting the Kill Bill films. Specifically, Thurman claims she was pressured by director Quentin Tarantino into shooting the popular convertible scene — or, the moment when she starts driving to kill Bill — by herself and with no stunt driver, despite Thurman’s expressing multiple times that she wasn’t comfortable operating the vehicle in its shoddy condition. “Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director,” she said. “He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: ‘I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road. Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won’t blow the right way and I’ll make you do it again.’ But that was a deathbox that I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.”

The subsequent moments confirmed Thurman’s worst fears: While wrestling with the car, it veered off the road and hit a tree at a high speed. (The video can be watched here.) She was badly injured, and needed time to recover. “The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me,” she recalled. “I felt this searing pain and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to walk again. When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car and I was very upset. Quentin and I had an enormous fight, and I accused him of trying to kill me. And he was very angry at that, I guess understandably, because he didn’t feel he had tried to kill me.”

As a result of the crash and her injuries, Thurman’s lawyer contacted Miramax, saying she reserved the right to sue. However, the company only allowed her to see the footage if they were released “of any consequences of my future pain and suffering.” She refused, and her decision spurred long-standing animosity with Tarantino. “We were in a terrible fight for years,” she explained. “We had to then go through promoting the movies. It was all very thin ice. We had a fateful fight at Soho House in New York in 2004 and we were shouting at each other because he wouldn’t let me see the footage and he told me that was what they had all decided.”

Eventually, Tarantino relented and gave her the footage — only a few months ago, in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein reckoning across Hollywood and beyond. “Not that it matters now, with my permanently damaged neck and my screwed-up knees,” Thurman says, noting how the entire Kill Bill filming process was dehumanizing “to the point of death.” (Tarantino didn’t respond to the Times’ multiple requests for comment.) “Harvey assaulted me but that didn’t kill me,” Thurman concluded. “What really got me about the crash was that it was a cheap shot.”

Uma Thurman Says She Almost Died While Filming Kill Bill