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Uma Thurman finally speaks out on Harvey Weinstein — and Quentin Tarantino

The actress’s revelations are damning.

Alternative Views - 12th Zurich Film Festival Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Uma Thurman is finally ready to speak. Since the initial allegations about disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced last fall, the actress has been hinting that she had bad experiences with him. “I’ve been waiting to feel less angry, and when I’m ready, I’ll say what I have to say,” she said at a red carpet event last November. Thurman also dropped a not-so-subtle hint about the matter on Instagram.

The portrait the actress paints is damning. In a lengthy interview with the New York Times published on Saturday, Thurman, whose acting credits include Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, and The Producers, alleges that Weinstein attacked her multiple times early in her career and discusses feeling guilty after so many women have come forward with allegations against him. “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 said.

Thurman also alleges that Tarantino pushed her to do a driving stunt while filming Kill Bill that has left her with permanent physical damage after she crashed. (The Times report includes footage of the accident.) “Personally, it has taken me 47 years to stop calling people who are mean to you ‘in love’ with you,” Thurman told the Times. “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.”

What Thurman says about Weinstein

Thurman told the Times that she got to know Weinstein through his first wife, Eve, after Pulp Fiction was released in 1994 — Miramax, which Weinstein ran, distributed the film in the US. “He used to spend hours talking to me about material and complimenting my mind and validating me. It possibly made me overlook warning signs,” Thurman said. “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.”

She said she first had an inkling something was wrong in a meeting at his Paris hotel room when he emerged wearing a bathrobe, which she first dismissed as “super idiosyncratic, like this was your kooky, eccentric uncle.” But Thurman said he first attacked her in London, after that incident.

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. But he didn’t actually put his back into it and force me. 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.

Weinstein sent Thurman roses afterward. When she later confronted him, he threatened to derail her career. A spokesperson for Weinstein told the Times he didn’t threaten her career and thought they had a “flirtatious and fun” relationship but apologized after “misreading her signals.” Thurman said later that Weinstein apologized to her in person — which he confirmed to the Times. Her response: “His therapy must be working.”

What Thurman says about Tarantino

Thurman paints a picture of a culture that enabled Weinstein and, more broadly, broke her down. She stressed in the Times interview that her former agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), was connected to Weinstein’s predatory behavior and that Tarantino, for whom she was a “muse” for years, knew about her experiences with Weinstein.

“He probably dismissed it like ‘Oh, poor Harvey, trying to get girls he can’t have,’ whatever he told himself, who knows?” she told the Times, though she said that Tarantino eventually did something about Weinstein on her behalf. “[T]he penny dropped for him. He confronted Harvey.”

Thurman’s rift with Tarantino, however, isn’t just because of Weinstein. On the set of Kill Bill in Mexico, the actress said Tarantino, the film’s director, insisted she drive a car for a scene herself instead of a stunt driver. Per the Times:

“Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director,” she says. “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.’” He persuaded her to do it, and instructed: “ ‘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 car crashed, which Thurman said has left her with a “permanently damaged neck” and “screwed-up knees.” She also said that Tarantino and the film’s producers refused to give her footage of the crash and finally relented — a full 15 years later. The footage is embedded in the Times story.

“Harvey assaulted me but that didn’t kill me,” Thurman said. “What really got me about the crash was that it was a cheap shot. I had been through so many rings of fire by that point.”

Tarantino didn’t return the Times’ requests for comment.

What Thurman says about herself

Thurman’s account is a major indictment of Weinstein, Tarantino, and the way women are treated in Hollywood. In her interviews, Thurman also offers an insight into the #MeToo movement that is not always so obvious: The guilt women who are victimized often feel for their perceived complicity in assaults on other women. In Thurman’s case, she openly wonders in the interview whether her working with Weinstein made other actresses feel that they would be okay and, in turn, provided him with more victims.

“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 symbolizes female empowerment,” she said. “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.”

It’s a harsh self-assessment — and not one that is merited or deserved.