When you become a mother, a lot of dignity goes out the window. You may find yourself regularly sleeping with a toddler’s foot in your face, singing the brain-addling anthem “D-d-dora, the explorer! D-d-dora, the explorer!” or, as Uma Thurman is doing tonight, nibbling at your offspring’s partially gnawed corn on the cob. To any other adult, someone else’s half-eaten corn qualifies as garbage, but for a lot of moms it’s dinner. “Don’t mind me,” says the blond screen goddess as she leans over the kitchen counter to polish off the scraps on her seven-year-old son, Levon’s, plate. “The worst is when you eat their dinner and your own, too. That’s when you know you’re really in trouble.”
It’s a balmy August evening, and at the moment all is calm in Thurman’s home in New York’s Greenwich Village, which is decorated with a cozy, eclectic mishmash of worn Oriental rugs, carved wood chairs and a wood-and-rope swing in the center of the living room. Less than 10 minutes ago, however, the town house was pulsating with activity: Levon and his 11-year-old sister, Maya, had friends over and were scrambling to finish dinner in time to catch a movie; Thurman’s personal assistant, Erin, was making sure her boss had everything she needed for the rest of the evening; a chef was starting on dinner for Thurman and her fiancé, Arpad “Arki” Busson (who was hanging out on the terrace, smoking); and Thurman’s Chihuahua, Sophie, was sneaking a drink from a reporter’s water glass (and being scolded by the nanny). There was another able-bodied young man of no clearly discernible position standing at the ready, plus a car and driver waiting outside. Team Uma in action is an impressive sight.
Now, almost everyone having retreated, the house is quiet. Thurman checks in on Busson with a few hushed words and a discreet kiss, and soon afterward he also makes himself scarce.
Up close, the nearly six-foot Thurman, 39, is somewhat unearthly in appearance. She’s string-bean lean, and her starkly pale, makeup-free skin is striking against her ice blue eyes. Settling into one of the chairs at her long dining table, she pours a bottle of raspberry soda into two glasses and explains that she’s just back from two weeks’ vacation in India with Busson. “I was in Rishikesh, which is where the Ganges comes down from the Himalayas,” she says. “It was beautiful, and because hardly anyone travels there during the monsoon season, it was mostly Indians.” A few weeks earlier she spent some time in Africa, where she was doing research for Girl Soldier, a film she’s planning to produce and star in, and just before that, she was in Vancouver, filming her part as Medusa in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, an action-adventure movie based on the best-selling children’s books. “It was a summer of interesting travel, but I’m very, very happy to be home. August always feels like New Year’s to me, a time when I feel a turning—a tightening,” she says, pressing her long fingers together for emphasis. “Like I have to get everything lined up for the fall.”