UPDATE: Uma Thurman blames Kill Bill‘s producers for covering up the incident.
Actress Uma Thurman has released shocking footage of a car crash she suffered on the set of Kill Bill, and alleges that director Quentin Tarantino pressured her into the unsafe stunt. Thurman opened up in an in-depth interview with the New York Times, in which she also became the latest in a long list of actresses to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 was released in 2003, followed by Kill Bill Vol. 2 in 2004. The car crash took place four days before the end of production, after nine months of filming, while shooting the iconic scene from the movie in which The Bride drives a blue convertible on her way to kill Bill.
In her recounting of the incident, Thurman says that the car had been reconfigured from a manual transmission to an automatic, and that she had heard that it wasn’t working very well. She made it clear that she didn’t want to drive the car and that a stunt person should be doing it instead, but says that Tarantino pressured her into driving the car herself:
“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.”
Thurman’s knees and neck were badly damaged in the crash, leaving her with health problems that persist to this day. She recalls, “The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me… I felt this searing pain and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to walk again.'” When she returned from the hospital later, Thurman says, “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.” Afterwards she asked to see footage of the crash, but says that Miramax and Tarantino refused to release it to her:
Two weeks after the crash, after trying to see the car and footage of the incident, she had her lawyer send a letter to Miramax, summarizing the event and reserving the right to sue. Miramax offered to show her the footage if she signed a document “releasing them of any consequences of my future pain and suffering,” she says. She didn’t.
The advent of the #MeToo movement spurred Thurman to renew her efforts to get the crash footage by turning over her own research to the police and putting the pressure on Tarantino once again – which worked. “Quentin finally atoned by giving it to me after 15 years, right?” Thurman says. “Not that it matters now, with my permanently damaged neck and my screwed-up knees.”
The crash wasn’t the only disturbing revelation to come out of the article. Thurman also added her own story to the many allegations against Kill Bill‘s executive producer, Harvey Weinstein. Thurman says that Weinstein tried to force himself on her in his suite at the Savoy Hotel in London, shortly after the release of Pulp Fiction.
“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’s representatives have since released a statement in response to the allegations:
Tarantino did not respond to requests for comment from the New York Times.