Uma Thurman on Her ‘Kill Bill’ Car Crash

February 5, 2018

Fifteen years ago, Uma Thurman was in a serious car crash while on location in Mexico filming the final days of Kill Bill. The accident was bad enough to give the star permanent injuries to her neck and knees as well as a concussion. And it significantly impacted her life emotionally as she has felt betrayed by Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein–both whom she says basically abandoned her after the crash occurred.

Uma recently opened up to The New York Times about her past experiences with both Weinstein and Tarantino. She details how she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein years ago in the “This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry” interview, but concludes that, of all the things she experienced, it was the way they handled the accident that hurt her the most.

The first time meeting Thurman, Tarantino was certain she would be the lead actress in his black comedy Pulp Fiction. Uma went on to play the iconic Mia Wallace in the movie which went on to be hailed by many critics as one of the greatest films ever made. The role launched Thurman as a Hollywood A-lister, and her performance was honored with an Oscar-nomination. Known as Tarantino’s muse, Uma not only lent her star power to Q’s movies, but she was also a creative contributor.

The duo’s next project was the martial arts film Kill Bill, and Weinstein was co-chairman of Miramax for Kill Bill just as he was for Pulp Fiction. The combined production for both Kill Bill: Volume I and II lasted 155 days. It was during the final days of filming that Tarantino asked Thurman to drive a blue convertible Karmann Ghia for the famous scene in which the Bride drives to kill Bill. However, Uma had been informed by another person in the production that the car might not work properly as it had been reconfigured from a stick shift to an automatic. For this reason, Thurman says she let Tarantino know she wanted to pass on driving the car and instead have a stunt person do the driving.

“Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director. 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,'” she recalls. According to Thurman, he then directed her: “‘Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won’t blow the right way, and I’ll make you do it again.'”

Thurman now regrets she decided to overlook her trepidations and get into the modified car. “But that was a deathbox I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road,” she says.

In the video clip above, a camera mounted to the car captures the moment she crashed into a palm tree as well as the aftermath when a stunned and injured Thurman can be seen heaving. “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 her lawyer asked to see the footage from the mounted car camera, Miramax said they would only show it if Uma agreed to sign an agreement releasing them from any responsibility for future pain and suffering. These were not terms she would agree to though, and so she never saw the footage … until just recently–15 years later, that is.

Thurman and Tarantino’s relationship has been very strained since the accident. “When they turned on me after the accident, I went from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool,” she says.

Thurman only recently received the crash footage–just after she met with police following the many women who came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual abuse.

In response to the article, Tarantino told Deadline, “I talked [Uma] into getting in the car, I assured her the road was safe. And it wasn’t.”  But he took issue with the way The New York Times article made it seem like Uma blamed him for the car accident. Indeed, Thurum has since defended Tarantino; she clarified that she holds three of the film’s producers, one of which is Weinstein, as the responsible parties.