When all the allegations against now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein started coming out, many immediately wanted to hear from Uma Thurman. Few actresses had their careers so tied to Weinstein, who was an integral part of the two movies that turned Thurman into a star—Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. But last year, when a reporter asked Thurman about the issue at a premiere, she very pointedly said she wanted to wait until she was less angry before speaking up. That time has now come, but Thurman explains that “anger” perhaps was not the best way to describe her state then.
“I used the word ‘anger’ but I was more worried about crying, to tell you the truth,” she told Maureen Dowd* of the New York Times in an interview published online Saturday in which the actress not only details the unwanted advances by Weinstein and also discusses how her relationship with Quentin Tarantino soured after she tried to advocate for herself in a dangerous scene. She also expresses guilt about not speaking up earlier: “The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was.”
Some actresses have spoken about how Weinstein attacked them pretty much when they first met. That wasn’t Thurman’s case. “I knew him pretty well before he attacked me,” she said. “He used to spend hours talking to me about material and complimenting my mind and validating me. It possibly made me overlook warning signs.” When Weinstein took off his bathrobe in front of her—a move he apparently did to a lot of women—in his hotel room in Paris once, she didn’t think much of it. “I didn’t feel threatened,” she recalls. “I thought he was being super idiosyncratic, like this was your kooky, eccentric uncle.” But then he led her to a sauna while she was in her “full black leather outfit.” When she confronted him, he got flustered and left.
Then the first full-blown “attack” took place in London. “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.” Afterward, Thurman warned him, “If you do what you did to me to other people you will lose your career, your reputation, and your family, I promise you.”
Thurman says her former agency, Creative Artists Agency, aided Weinstein’s behavior and also accuses Tarantino of not taking her complaints about Weinstein seriously. Tarantino later did confront Weinstein, who apologized. Weinstein confirmed the apology to the Times but after the piece came out, his team released several photos that apparently “demonstrate the strong relationship Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Thurman had had over the years.”
Although Weinstein’s team admits he made an “awkward pass” at Thurman after “misreading her signals” they insist there “was no physical contact.” The statement by Weinstein’s spokesperson also claims that “Mr. Weinstein is saddened and puzzled as to ‘why’ Ms. Thurman, someone he considers a colleague and a friend, waited 25 years to make these allegations public, noting that he and Ms. Thurman have shared a very close and mutually beneficial working relationship where they have made several very successful film projects together.”
Although Thurman’s relationship with Tarantino was already strained, what ended up ruining it was how the director pushed her to drive a car that she didn’t think was safe. She crashed and is still suffering from damaged knees as a result of that incident. It took Thurman 15 years to get footage of that incident, which is published in the Times article.
*Correction on Feb. 4 at 12:25 p.m.: This post originally misspelled Maureen Dowd’s name.