Real name: Uma Karuna Thurman
Birthdate: April 29, 1970
Partner: Ethan Hawke
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Uma Karuna Thurman (born April 29, 1970) is an Academy Award-nominated American actress. She performs predominantly in leading roles in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action thrillers. She is best known for her films directed by Quentin Tarantino. Her most popular films include Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Pulp Fiction (1994), Gattaca (1997) and the two Kill Bill movies (2003–04).
In 1990, the 19-year-old Thurman co-starred with Fred Ward in the sexually provocative drama film Henry & June, the first film to receive an NC-17 rating. Because of the film’s restrictive rating, it never played in a wide release but would attract more attention to Thurman’s career. Critics embraced her in her first leading role, The New York Times wrote, “Thurman, as the Brooklyn-accented June, takes a larger-than-life character and makes her even bigger, though the performance is often as curious as it is commanding”.
The two biggest film flops of Thurman’s career came in 1997 and 1998. She played Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, the fourth film of the popular franchise. Batman & Robin became one of the largest critical flops in history. Thurman’s performance in the campy film received mainly mixed reviews, and critics made comparisons between her and actress Mae West. The New York Times wrote, “like Mae West, she mixes true femininity with the winking womanliness of a drag queen”. A similar comparison was made by the Houston Chronicle: “Thurman, to arrive at a ’40s femme fatale, sometimes seems to be doing Mae West by way of Jessica Rabbit”. The next year brought The Avengers, another major financial and critical flop. CNN described Thurman as, “so distanced you feel like you’re watching her through the wrong end of a telescope”. She received Razzie Award nominations for both films. She closed out 1998 with the powerful tale Les Misérables, a film version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel of the same name, directed by Bille August, in which she played the role of Fantine.
After a five-year hiatus from any major film roles, Thurman returned in 2003 in John Woo's film Paycheck, followed by her next collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill. Paycheck was only moderately successful with critics and at the box office, but Kill Bill relaunched her career.
The main inspirations for “The Bride” were several B-movie action heroines. Thurman's main inspiration for the role was the title character of Coffy (played by Pam Grier) and the character of Gloria Swenson from Gloria (played by Gena Rowlands). She said that the two characters are “two of the only women I've ever seen be truly women holding a weapon”. Coffy was screened for Thurman by Tarantino prior to beginning production on the film, to help her model the character.