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Facts about Uma Thurman
Biography for Uma ThurmanUma Thurman (born Apr. 29, 1970 (43 years ago)), is an American actress. She has performed 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 work under the direction of Quentin Tarantino. Her most popular movies include Dangerous Liaisons (1988, 25 years ago), Pulp Fiction (1994, 19 years ago), Gattaca (1997, 16 years ago) and Kill Bill (2 walls) (2003–04).
Early yearsThurman's mother, Nena Birgitte Caroline von Schlebrügge was a fashion model born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1941 (72 years ago), to German Friedrich Karl Johannes von Schlebrügge, and Birgit Holmquist, from Trelleborg, Sweden. In 1930 (83 years ago), Birgit Holmquist, Thurman's grandmother, modeled for a nude statue that stands overlooking the harbor of Smygehuk. Thurman's father, Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman, was born in New York City to Elizabeth Dean Farrar, a stage actress, and Beverly Reid Thurman, Jr., an Associated Press editor and U.N. translator. Thurman's mother was introduced to LSD guru Timothy Leary by Salvador Dalí; and married Leary in 1964; then wed Thurman's father in 1967 (46 years ago).
Thurman's father, Robert, a scholar and professor at Columbia University of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies, was the first westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He gave his children a Buddhist upbringing: Uma is named after an Dbuma Chenpo (in Tibetan, the "db" is silent; from Mahamadhyamaka in Sanskrit, meaning "Great Middle Way"). She has three brothers, Ganden (b. 1971 (42 years ago)), Dechen (b. 1973 (40 years ago)) and Mipam (b. 1978 (35 years ago)), and a half-sister named Taya (b. 1960 (53 years ago)) from her father's previous marriage. She and her siblings spent time in Almora, India, during childhood, and the Dalai Lama sometimes visited their home.
Thurman grew up mostly in Amherst, Massachusetts and Woodstock, New York. She is described as having been an awkward and introverted girl who was teased for her tall frame, angular bone structure, unusual name (sometimes using the name “Uma Karen” instead of her birth name) and size 11 feet. When she was 10 years old, a friend's mother suggested a nose job.
As a child, she suffered bouts of body dysmorphic disorder, which she discussed in an interview with Talk magazine in 2001 (12 years ago).
Thurman attended Northfield Mount Hermon, a college preparatory boarding school in Northfield, Massachusetts, where she earned average grades, but excelled in acting. Talent scouts noticed her performance as Abigail in a production of The Crucible, and offered her the chance to act professionally. Thurman moved to New York City to pursue acting and to attend the Professional Children's School, but she dropped out before graduating.
Early works, 1987–1989Thurman as Venus in 1988’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.Thurman began her career as a fashion model at age 15. She signed with The Agency (4 walls) Click Models. Her modeling credits included Glamour Magazine. In 1989 (24 years ago), she appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine's annual Hot issue.
Thurman made her movie debut in 1988 (25 years ago), appearing in four movies that year. Her first two were the high school comedy Johnny Be Good and the teen thriller Kiss Daddy Goodnight. Thurman appeared in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, playing the goddess Venus alongside Oliver Reed’s Vulcan. During her entrance Thurman briefly appears nude in a homage to Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus. With a budget of $46 million and box office receipts of only $8 million, the movie was a commercial failure.
Her breakthrough came in her role as Cecile de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. Actresses Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer earned Oscar nominations for their performances. At the time, she was insecure about her appearance, and fled to London for almost a year, during which she wore only loose, baggy clothing.
Soon after the release of Dangerous Liaisons, the media were eager to profile Thurman. She was praised by her co-star John Malkovich, who said of her, “There is nothing twitchy teenager-ish about her, I haven’t met anyone like her at that age. Her intelligence and poise stand out. But there’s something else. She’s more than a little haunted.”
Major works, 1990–1993In 1990 (23 years ago), Thurman co-starred with Fred Ward in the sexually provocative drama Henry & June, the first movie to receive an NC-17 rating. Because of the rating, it never played in a wide release but critics embraced her; 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”.
Thurman’s first starring role in a major production was Gus Van Sant's 1993 (20 years ago) adaptation of Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. It was a critical and financial disappointment; Thurman was nominated for a Worst Actress Razzie. The Washington Post described her acting as shallow, writing that, “Thurman’s strangely passive characterization doesn’t go much deeper than drawling and flexing her prosthetic thumbs”. Thurman also starred opposite Robert De Niro (6 walls) in the drama Mad Dog and Glory, another box office disappointment. Later that year, she auditioned for Stanley Kubrick while he was casting a movie to be called Wartime Lies, which was never produced. Her agent said she described working with him as a “really bad experience”.
1994–1998Thurman in 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Her character in the movie was based on Danish actress Anna Karina.After Mad Dog and Glory, Thurman auditioned for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, which grossed over $107 million on a budget of only $8 million USD. The Washington Post wrote that Thurman was “serenely unrecognizable in a black wig, [and] is marvelous as a zoned-out gangster’s girlfriend”. Thurman was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar the following year. Entertainment Weekly claimed that, “of the five women nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category this year, only [Thurman] can claim that her performance gave the audience fits”. Thurman also became one of Tarantino’s favorite actresses to cast, stating in a 2003 (10 years ago) issue of Time: “[Thurman]’s up there with Garbo and Dietrich in goddess territory”.
She starred opposite Janeane Garofalo in the moderately successful 1996 (17 years ago) romantic comedy The Truth About Cats & Dogs as a ditzy blonde supermodel. In 1998 (15 years ago), she starred opposite her future husband Ethan Hawke in the dystopian science fiction movie Gattaca. Although Gattaca was not a success at the box office, it drew many positive reviews and became successful on the home video market, some critics were not as impressed with Thurman, such as the Los Angeles Times which stated she was “as emotionally uninvolved as ever”. Her next role was Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, the fourth movie of the popular franchise. Batman & Robin became one of the largest critical flops in history, though it did garner nearly $100 million over its production budget in box office receipts making it a financial success. Thurman’s performance in the campy movie received mixed reviews, and critics compared her with 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 (15 years ago) with Les Misérables, a movie version of Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, directed by Bille August, in which she played Fantine.
Hiatus, 1998–2002Thurman at the Cannes movie Festival in 2000 (13 years ago).After the birth of her first baby in 1998 (15 years ago), Thurman took a rest from major roles to concentrate on motherhood. Her next roles were in low-budget and TV films, including Tape, Vatel, and Hysterical Blindness. She also starred in Chelsea Walls, a movie directed by then husband Ethan Hawke. In 2000 (13 years ago) she narrated a theatrical work by composer John Moran entitled Book of the Dead (2nd Avenue) at The Public Theater. She won a Golden Globe award for Hysterical Blindness, a movie for which she also served as executive producer. In the movie she played a New Jersey woman in the 1980 (33 years ago) searching for romance. The San Francisco Chronicle review wrote, “Thurman so commits herself to the role, eyes blazing and body akimbo, that you start to believe that such a creature could exist — an exquisite-looking woman so spastic and needy that she repulses regular Joes. Thurman has bent the role to her will”.
2003–presentAfter a five-year hiatus, Thurman returned in 2003 (10 years ago) in John Woo's movie Paycheck, followed by Tarantino's Kill Bill. Paycheck was only moderately successful with critics and at the box office, but Kill Bill (2 walls) relaunched her career.
In Kill Bill (2 walls) she played assassin Beatrix Kiddo, out for revenge against her former lover. Tarantino wrote the part specifically for her. He also cited Thurman as his muse while writing the film, and also gave her joint credit for the character, whom the two conceived on the set of Pulp Fiction from the sole image (wallpaper) of a bride covered in blood.
Production was delayed for several months after Thurman became pregnant, as Tarantino refused to recast the part. The movie took nine months to shoot, and was filmed in five different countries. The role was also her most demanding , and she spent three months training in martial arts, swordsmanship, and Japanese. The two-part action epic became an instant cult classic and scored highly with critics. The movie series earned Thurman Golden Globe nominations for both entries, and three MTV Movie Awards for Best Female Performance and twice for Best Fight. Rolling Stone likened Thurman to “an avenging angel out of a 1940 (73 years ago) Hollywood melodrama”.
The 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 [while] holding a weapon”. Coffy was screened for Thurman by Tarantino prior to beginning production on the film, to help her model the character.
By 2005 (8 years ago), Thurman was one of Hollywood's highest paid actresses, commanding a salary of $12.5 million per film. Her first movie of the year was Be Cool, the sequel to 1995's Get Shorty, which reunited her with her Pulp Fiction castmate John Travolta. In the movie she played the widow of a deceased music business executive. The movie received poor reviews, and came in below expectations at the box office. In 2005 (8 years ago) she starred in Prime with Meryl Streep, playing a woman in her late thirties romancing a man in his early twenties. Thurman's last movie of the year was a remake of The Producers in which she played Ulla, a Swedish stage actress hoping to win a part in a new Broadway musical. Originally, the producers of the movie planned to have another singer dub in Thurman's musical numbers, but she was eager to do her own vocals, She is credited for her songs in the credits. The movie was considered a bomb at the box office, but many praised Thurman's efforts, including A. O. Scott of the New York Times who said: "Uma Thurman as a would-be actress is the one bit of genuine radiance in this aggressively and pointlessly shiny, noisy spectacle."
With a very successful movie career, Thurman once again became a desired model. Cosmetics company Lancôme selected her as their spokeswoman, and named several shades of lipstick after her, though they were sold only in Asia. In 2005 (8 years ago), she became a spokeswoman for the French fashion house Louis Vuitton.
On Feb. 7, 2006 (7 years ago), Thurman was named a knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France for outstanding achievement in the field of art and literature.
In May 2006 (7 years ago) Thurman bought the movie rights to the Frank Schätzing novel The Swarm, which is in development and due for release in 2008 (5 years ago). When the movie remake The Women was in pre-production in 2006 (7 years ago), Thurman was cast as Crystal Allen, alongside Annette Bening, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock (13 walls), Ashley Judd (62 walls), Lisa Kudrow and Anne Hathaway (44 walls), being directed by James L. Brooks, but the director was changed and Thurman was no longer part of the cast.
In Jul. 2006 (7 years ago) Thurman starred opposite Luke Wilson in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Thurman portrayed a super-heroine named "G-Girl" who is dumped by her boyfriend and then takes her revenge upon him. Thurman received a reported $14 million for the role, but the movie flopped. Once again Thurman was well-received, yet the movie was not.
In Feb. 2008 (5 years ago) she starred opposite Colin Firth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Accidental Husband, a romantic comedy about a woman who finds herself married while engaged to another man. It seems like archetypal Hollywood contrivance, but according to Thurman a similar situation happened in New York.
Thurman starred as "Elsa" in the British telefilm My Zinc Bed, in which she plays a cocaine addict, starring opposite Paddy Considine and Jonathan Pryce.
She finished filming Motherhood, an indie comedy, about the challenges faced by a mother preparing for her son's birthday.
She will star in the movie version of the 1950 (63 years ago) books Eloise In Paris, playing the role of Nanny, this movie is to be directed by Charles Shyer.
Thurman also agreed to star in the new Muppets movie, playing a ticket clerk.
Bollywood director Vishal Bharadwaj has announced his interest in Thurman to star in his latest movie venture opposite Hrithik Roshan, in a biographical movie of the life of actress Nadira. The movie is still in its pre-production stage. Uma Thurman has shown interest in playing either Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo.
Personal lifeThurman owns a townhouse in New York's Greenwich Village, but lives in Hyde Park, New York. Raised as a Buddhist, she considers herself agnostic.
Thurman is engaged to marry London based Franco-Swiss financier Arpad Busson, supermodel Elle Macpherson's former partner, whom she began dating in late 2007 (6 years ago). Prior to becoming engaged to Arpad, Uma dated Andre Balazs from 2004 (9 years ago) -2006. People magazine confirmed on Jun. 27, 2008 (5 years ago) that Thurman and Busson are engaged.
While living in London after shooting Dangerous Liaisons, she began dating director Phil Joanou. On the set of State Of Grace, she met English actor Gary Oldman. They were married in 1990 (23 years ago), but the marriage ended in 1992 (21 years ago).
On May 1, 1998 (15 years ago), she married actor Ethan Hawke, whom she met on the set of Gattaca; his novel Ash Wednesday is dedicated to "Karuna", Thurman's middle name. Thurman acknowledged that they had married because she was pregnant; at their wedding she was seven months along. The marriage produced two children, daughter Maya Ray Thurman-Hawke (b. Jul. 8, 1998 (15 years ago)) and son Levon Roan Thurman-Hawke (b. Jan. 15, 2002 (11 years ago)).
In 2003 (10 years ago), Thurman and Hawke separated, and in 2004 (9 years ago) they filed for divorce. When asked on The Oprah Winfrey Show if there was “betrayal of some kind” during the marriage, Thurman said, “There was some stuff like that at the end. We were having a difficult time, and you know how the axe comes down and how people behave and how people express their unhappiness”. Director Quentin Tarantino has described Thurman as his "muse." However, in a 2004 (9 years ago) Rolling Stone cover story, Thurman and Tarantino denied having had a romantic relationship, despite Tarantino once having told a reporter, “I’m not saying that we haven’t, and I’m not saying that we have”.
Awards and nominations
External links to Uma Thurman
Linked to Uma Thurman
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