Uma Thurman’s tour-de-force perf as The Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 1” could easily have been deemed too much of an action role to merit dramatic kudo attention. But the Golden Globes voters felt differently, nominating Thurman among such seemingly more obvious dramatic actress contenders as “Cold Mountain’s” Nicole Kidman and “Monster’s” Charlize Theron.
Then again, Thurman also was nommed for multiple kudos (including a Globe and an Oscar) for her last teaming with the helmer in 1994’s “Pulp Fiction.” This time, however, playing a back-from-near-dead mama looking for revenge could have been as cartoonish as Tarantino meant the film to be, but Thurman elevated the Bride beyond the bloody carnage that’s wreaked in nearly every scene.
In fact, Tarantino counted on Thurman (who co-developed her character with the director) to bring some humanity to his non-stop kick-ass chopsocky homage.
“I didn’t want her to be a male action hero that happens to be female. Her job was to give this character heart and soul. She grounded the movie and made it about something other than the form,” says the helmer, quickly adding his dis-claimer: “Movies don’t need to be more than the form, by the way.”
As is widely known, Tarantino delayed his shoot so that Thurman could give birth to her second child before starting “Kill.” That event unexpectedly paid off on screen, says the helmer. “She had the complete sense memory of being a mother all over again — not of a 4-year-old, but a new baby. It all came to roost in that scene where she wakes from her coma and realizes her baby is gone. That was one of the best experiences in my directing career,” says Tarantino, adding that she nailed the scene on the second take.
Tarantino, who calls Thurman a ’30s movie star — the Marlene Dietrich to his Josef von Sternberg –also was grateful for the thesp’s willingness to undergo a brutal prep period and for taking many leaps into the unknown.
“She had to deliver a kung-fu heroine and a flesh-and-blood human being … add on top of that all the training, sword fighting — and she’s not athletically inclined,” enthuses the helmer. Thurman did most of her own stunts and held her own conversing in Japanese with one of Nippon’s best actors: “All stuff, by the way, she’s never done before.”
With the second installment of “Kill Bill” due out in theaters in February, Thurman has another chance to show off her sassy new moves and make Tarantino proud all over again.
Coming attractions: “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” “Accidental Husband”