Several hours after Uma Thurman said she didn’t believe director Quentin Tarantino had “malicious intent” when he made her do a dangerous driving stunt in “Kill Bill,” the director called the incident “the biggest regret of my life.”
Speaking to Deadline, Tarantino said “I am guilty, for putting her in that car, but not the way that people are saying I am guilty of it.”
In a New York Times interview published Saturday in which she accused Harvey Weinstein of attempting to assault her more than once, Thurman also talked at length about a car crash during the filming of “Kill Bill” that she says sent her to the hospital and left her with permanent damage to her back. Tarantino, Thurman said, heavily pressured her to perform a risky car stunt despite her pleas not to, and afterward joined with Miramax in refusing to give the footage to her.
The experience destroyed their once-close friendship, though Thurman said on Monday that Tarantino was “remorseful” about it, and that she held “Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh, and the notorious Harvey Weinstein solely responsible.”
Tarantino for his part told Deadline he wasn’t trying to keep the footage from her. He says he and Thurman had discussed how she was going to talk about the incident publicly, and she asked if he could find the footage of the crash. “I had to find it, 15 years later. We had to go through storage facilities, pulling out boxes,” Tarantino said, adding, “I was very happy to get it to Uma.”
Tarantino recalled the day of the crash and the driving shot in question. “I start hearing from the production manager, Bennett Walsh, that Uma is trepidatious about doing the driving shot. None of us ever considered it a stunt. It was just driving,” Tarantino told Deadline. He drove down the “one lane little strip of road with foliage on either side” in Mexico, and thought it would be safe for Thurman to drive. “There are no weird dips, there were no gully kinds of things, no hidden S-curves. Nothing like that. It was just a straight shot.”
The two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter said he doesn’t know what caused the crash. “[Thurman] has her suspicions and I have mine,” he said. “I thought, if I get this footage to her and she puts it out there in the world, that a crash expert can look at it and determine exactly what happened on that road.”
Thurman was instructed to drive 30-45 mph, Tarantino said, which he didn’t think would be a problem. He called that judgment call “one of the biggest regrets” of his life, and that witnessing the crash was “just horrible.”
Tarantino said that there were others Thurman wanted to indict for the cover up – the film’s producers Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh and Harvey Weinstein — and that he, too, was supposed to do an interview with The New York Times writer Maureen Dowd to back up Thurman’s claims. But that interview never happened, and Tarantino said the end result of the piece left him looking like the villain.
“I read the article and basically it seemed like all the other guys lawyered up, so they weren’t even allowed to be named. And, through mostly Maureen Dowd’s prose, I ended up taking the hit and taking the heat,” he said.
8. “Death Proof”(2007)
Despite some truly audacious stunt work by Zoe Bell on the hood of a careening Dodge Challenger, Tarantino’s homage to grindhouse fails to transcend that leering genre. If anything, “Death Proof” unintentionally makes the case for exploitation flicks’ niche appeal with its cardboard characters and lurid set pieces.
7. “Reservoir Dogs” (1992)
Tarantino’s directorial debut inaugurates the self-assured vision of a filmmaker who knows exactly what kind of movies he wants to make. Vicious and nihilistic, the crime thriller is also largely an exercise in style despite fantastic performances by Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Madsen.
6. “Kill Bill, Vols. 1 & 2” (2003-04)
Tarantino’s movies are never short of watchable, but this two-part, four-hour pastiche epic is the director at his second most fanboyish (after “Death Proof”). Tarantino himself has said of the Uma Thurman vehicle that it’s “not about real life, it’s just about other movies” — and it shows. As a primer on Tarantino’s favorite movies, it’s enjoyable enough. As a standalone film, it fails to register beyond the over-the-top fight scenes.
5. “The Hateful Eight” (2015)
Thinly drawn characters and a three-hour-plus running time make this Western an inessential and interminable chamber drama. After the peaks of “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” it’s disappointing to see Tarantino return to pointlessly bloody form, especially given the film’s promisingly fertile post-Civil War setting.
4. “Pulp Fiction”(1994)
Arguably the most important movie of the ’90s, this smirking Palme d’Or winner now feels slightly rambling and repetitive. Still, its instantly recognizable lines, characters, and scenes must be acknowledged, and Samuel L. Jackson’s alert but world-weary hitman gives this tale of L.A. lowlifes an emotional weightiness Tarantino’s lesser efforts don’t quite achieve.
3. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)
This alternate-history cartoon is Tarantino at his most entertaining, featuring a continent full of snappily sketched characters and star-making (or -remaking) turns by Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, and Melanie Laurent. But whacking Nazis with bats and setting them on fire don’t add up to much more than a hollow revenge fantasy, however funnily or majestically rendered.
2. “Jackie Brown”(1997)
Tarantino’s only attempt at a real love story (sorry, “Django” doesn’t count), “Jackie Brown” is in many ways the director’s most human film. The soundtrack is flawless, Pam Grier’s in top form, and the tangled busyness of the criminal escapades just make Jackie and her would-be bail-bondsman suitor’s (Robert Forster) middle-aged melancholy that much more moving.
1. “Django Unchained” (2012)
The rare Tarantino movie to actually be “about” something, “Django Unchained” explores the still-taboo topic of black anger at white Southerners for slavery with wit, ferocity, and cinematic flair. Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio deliver career-best performances in this delirious rhapsody, and for once the director’s signature hyper-violence has a point beyond its own sake. If only Tarantino would allow himself to be so ambitious with every project.
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TheWrap movie critic Inkoo Kang reassesses the director’s 23-year career, from “Reservoir Dogs” to “The Hateful Eight”
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