Uma Thurman has finally told the story of what happened between her, Harvey Weinstein, Quentin Tarantino, and Miramax she alluded to in a chilling moment during a red carpet interview last year. In an article by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, the actress recounts a history of complicity by herself and others, and of being taken advantage of, over and over again. This is the story many have been waiting for since early November, when Thurman declined to speak about the Weinstein scandal, saying, "I've been waiting to feel less angry. And when I'm less angry, I'll say what I have to say." Then at Thanksgiving, she posted a somewhat cryptic note to Instagram, a still of herself driving in Kill Bill with a message about #MeToo and a warning to Weinstein. Now, the truth is out.
During the interview, Thurman reveals that "She has been raped. She has been sexually assaulted...She has been betrayed and gaslighted by those she trusted." And in that confusion, she made decisions she still feels guilty about. “The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was,” she said. “I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that’s a super weird split to have,” she explained. “I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone...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.”
It's a feeling echoed in the story about being coerced into sexual activity by an older man when she was just a teenager, and how she was later mad at herself that her hands weren't "bloody." Should she have fought back more? Could she have? And she felt conflicted again that she wasn't a "groundbreaker" on the Weinstein story initially.
Throughout her career, it seems, powerful men have used a mixture of charm, trickery, institutional power, and force to put Thurman into situations where her ability to say "no" was compromised. She recalled that while being led down a hotel hallway by Weinstein, whom she initially had a pleasant working relationship with, during a meeting, “I didn’t feel threatened...I thought he was being super idiosyncratic, like this was your kooky, eccentric uncle.” Not long after, Weinstein got her alone again and attempted to assault her. “[Weinstein] pushed me down. He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things. But he didn’t actually put his back into it and force me,” she recounted. (Weinstein's representatives characterized the encounters differently, and also apologized for some of his behavior.)
She later confronted Weinstein about what he'd done; he threatened her career; she doesn't remember exactly what happened. In a chilling passage, Ilona Herman, Robert De Niro’s makeup artist and Thurman's friend, recalls that after this exchange, "[Thurman] was very disheveled and so upset and had this blank look...Her eyes were crazy and she was totally out of control. I shoveled her into the taxi and we went home to my house. She was really shaking.”
Thurman was able to maintain a working relationship with Weinstein, though she tended to avoid him, but she was coerced by a powerful man into a dangerous situation yet again on the set of Kill Bill. Tarantino told her that she'd be driving the film's famous blue convertible down a sandy road herself, but Thurman believed the car was unsafe and wanted a professional stunt person to do it. Tarantino assured her that the car was safe, and Thurman agreed to do the driving herself. But she did end up crashing into a palm tree. There's footage of the crash, but Thurman had been unable to get a copy of it, even through legal means, until the Miramax empire started crumbling down this past October.
She also added that a number of stunts in Kill Bill were done by Tarantino himself, specifically those involving degrading Thurman's character, like choking her and spitting on her. She said that before the crash, she felt she had at least some say in her decisions and experiences, and didn't feel "disempowered." But the incident on the Kill Bill set and the ensuing rift with Tarantino, who eventually made some apologies through her then-husband Ethan Hawke, turned her "from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool."
She's glad that a new era of better treatment is dawning and that some of the men who have mistreated her are saying sorry. But that doesn't exactly undo the damage. “Quentin finally atoned by giving it to me after 15 years, right?” she quipped. “Not that it matters now, with my permanently damaged neck and my screwed-up knees.”
We encourage you to read the whole interview, because there is a lot of nuance and also a bit about how Uma's dad thinks she is a reincarnated goddess, which I now agree with.