Nationality: American. Born: Uma Karuna Thurman in Boston, Massachusetts, 29 April 1970. Family: Married 1) the actor Gary Oldman, 1990 (divorced 1992); 2) the actor Ethan Hawke, 1998, one daughter: Maya Ray Thurman-Hawke. Education: Attended the Professional Children's School, New York. Career: Began modeling while in high school, mid-1980s; began her screen career at age 17 in
Films as Actress:
Kiss Daddy Goodnight (Huemer) (as Laura)
Johnny Be Good (Bud Smith) (as Georgia Elkans); Dangerous Liaisons (Frears) (as Cecile de Volanges)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Gilliam) (as Venus/Rose)
Henry & June (Kaufman) (as June Miller); Where the Heart Is (Boorman) (as Daphne)
Robin Hood (Irvin—for TV) (as Maid Marian)
Final Analysis (Joanau) (as Diana Baylor); Jennifer Eight (Robinson) (as Helena Robertson)
Mad Dog and Glory (McNaughton) (as Glory)
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Van Sant) (as Sissy Hankshaw); Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) (as Mia)
A Month by the Lake (Irvin) (as Miss Beaumont); The Duke of Groove (Dunne) (short) (as Maya)
Beautiful Girls (Ted Demme) (as Andrea); The Truth about Cats & Dogs (Michael Lehmann) (as Noelle Slusarsky)
Batman & Robin (Schumacher) (as Poison Ivy/Dr. Pamela Isley); Gattaca (Niccol) (as Irene Cassini)
Les Misérables (August) (as Fantine); The Avengers (Chechik) (as Emma Peel)
Sweet and Lowdown (Allen) (as Blanche)
The Golden Bowl (Ivory) (as Charlotte); Vatel (Joffe)
Julian Po ( The Tears of Julian Po ) (Wade) (for "acknowledged contribution")
By THURMAN: articles—
Interview in Interview (New York), July 1987.
Interview with I. Sischy and G. Fuller, in Interview (New York), October 1992.
"Numero Uma," interview with Alex Shoumatoff, in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1996.
"Beautiful Girl," interview with Jonathan Van Meter, in Vogue (New York), June 1997.
On THURMAN: articles—
Schiff, Stephen, "The Seduction Game," in Vanity Fair (New York), October 1988.
Blau, E., "Uma Thurman, Prospects in Liaisons Were Awesome at First," in New York Times , 30 December 1988.
Schiff, Stephen, "Sense of Uma," in Vanity Fair (New York), March 1989.
Bertram, B., "Uma Thurman," in Premiere (New York), April 1989.
Yagoda, Ben, "Uma Thurman: Whatever You Do, Don't Ask This Brainy Bombshell for Her Phone Number," in Rolling Stone (New York), 18 May 1989.
Klinger, J., " Henry and June ," in American Film (Hollywood), September 1990.
Cott, Jonathan, "Drugstore Cowgirl," in Rolling Stone (New York), 11 November 1993.
Zacharek, Stephanie, "Fan Letter: Uma Thurman," in Modern Review , December-January 1994–1995.
Kaylin, Lucy, "Uma in Bloom," in GQ (New York), February 1995.
Demarchelier, Patrick, "Uma!," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), June 1995.
Shoumantoff, A., "Numero Uma," in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1996.
Szebin, F.C., "Uma Thurman, Poison Ivy," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park), vol. 29, no. 1 1997.
Udovitch, Mim, "An Alternate Umaverse," in Esquire (New York), March 1998.
Garner, D., "Uma Thurman: Earth Mother," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), March 1998.
Tannenbaum, Rob, "Avenging Angel Uma," in Premiere (New York), July 1998.
Pyun, J., "Uma," in Mademoiselle (New York), July 1998.
Schneider, Wolf, "Where the '60s Never End," in Movieline (Los Angeles), August 1998.
* * *
Uma Thurman is a lanky, thoroughly beguiling actress whose exotic good looks separate her from such all-American beauties as Julia Roberts and Michelle Pfeiffer. After making her screen debut in an obscure independent film ( Kiss Daddy Goodnight ) and appearing to little effect in an atrocious comedy throwaway ( Johnny Be Good ), Thurman established herself in her first important film: Stephen Frears's savagely witty Dangerous Liaisons , made when she was all of 18, in which she plays the seduced virgin Cecile de Volanges. Thurman more than held her own playing opposite a well-seasoned cast (including John Malkovich, Glenn Close, and Pfeiffer). Indeed, in a number of her subsequent roles she specialized in playing defenseless innocents. She was especially good in this capacity in Jennifer Eight , in which she has the difficult role of a young blind woman who just may be the next victim of a serial killer. In one scene, as her character is left alone at a noisy party, Thurman's face subtly and effectively expresses just the right amount of fear, confusion, and anxiety.
Her early-career characters ooze vulnerability even when they are sexually experienced. In Mad Dog and Glory , her role in essence is that of a gift, presented to a reserved crime scene photographer (Robert De Niro) who has saved the life of a mobster (Bill Murray). While the focus of Henry & June is on the erotic relationship between the writers Henry Miller (Fred Ward) and Anais Nin (Maria de Medeiros) in early 1930s Paris, Thurman's June Miller is very much a part of the scenario as she becomes the final link in a three-cornered love affair. In both these films, Thurman is an exhilarating presence, with her characters at once sexually alluring and deeply human. In Mad Dog and Glory , she is especially impressive as she interacts with De Niro.
Perhaps Thurman's most disappointing screen appearance came in Gus Van Sant's disastrous Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. She plays a young woman named Sissy Hankshaw, who is "somewhat of a medical oddity" in that she was born with abnormally large thumbs. For years, Sissy has been fulfilling her calling by hitchhiking across America. The crux of the story details her experiences as she encounters a band of lesbian-feminist cowgirl-revolutionaries in a western spa-resort. The film was screened to standing-room-only crowds at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival. Van Sant was not happy with audience reaction, so he took his work back to the editing room. Despite his alterations, critics and audiences remained unenthralled.
Fortunately for Thurman, she escaped unscathed. Her follow-up was the most talked-about film of 1994, and one of the most influential films of the 1990s: Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Here, she exchanges vulnerability for outright kookiness and take-charge attitude in her role as Mia, the sexy, flaky wife of a crime lord, who spends an eventful evening in the company of hired gun Vincent Vega (John Travolta). Mia is a character straight out of 1940s film noir, and Thurman gives a deliciously watchable performance, full of clever and outrageous mannerisms. As a result, she earned reams of publicity, and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. And in the far more conventional A Month by the Lake , set in a totally different time and place, her performance is almost as equally over-the-top. Here she plays Miss Beaumont, a nanny who flirts with a dapper older man (Edward Fox) in a Lake Como, Italy, resort immediately prior to the start of World War II.
In the second half of the 1990s, Thurman has played characters who are coolly sexy (in the sci-fi thriller Gattaca ); goofy and ditzy (the Cyrano -like romantic comedy The Truth About Cats & Dogs ); sharp, knowing, and much-coveted (the small town slice-of-life/ensemble piece Beautiful Girls ); and eccentric (Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown ). And her reputation was not hampered by the less-than-successful Batman & Robin (playing the villainous Poison Ivy) and The Avengers (as Emma Peel).
All these roles are linked in that they hinge on her looks—and none offered her a character as eye-opening as that of Pulp Fiction's Mia. In Sweet and Lowdown , costars Sean Penn and Samantha Morton garnered the good reviews and Oscar nominations; Thurman's presence mostly was overlooked.