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‘She Had a Right to Blame Me’: Tarantino Opens Up About Uma Thurman’s <i>Kill Bill</i> Accident

Quentin Tarantino has addressed the criticism of him that have emerged in the days following the publication of Uma Thurman’s New York Times interview with Maureen Dowd.

In an interview with Deadline, the Kill Bill director opened up about his relationship with Thurman, the aftermath of Thurman’s crash on set, and the allegations she has leveled against Harvey Weinstein.

Thurman’s New York Times interview

In an article published Saturday, columnist Maureen Dowd revealed “why Uma Thurman is angry,” providing an opportunity for the actress to break her silence on Weinstein and her experiences in Hollywood.

Besides detailing the “attacks” Thurman endured from Weinstein, the article focuses on an anecdote from the set of Kill Bill. In it, Thurman explains that she was pushed — at Tarantino’s insistence — to shoot an automobile scene she was not comfortable with. Within seconds, Thurman lost control of the car and crashed into a tree, causing lasting damage to her knees and back.

Thurman tells Dowd that the incident damaged her relationship with the director, explaining that they were “in a terrible fight for years,” exacerbated by Tarantino’s apparent unwillingness to give Thurman the footage of the crash, which she saw as an attempted cover up.

“Quentin finally atoned by giving it to me after 15 years, right?” Thurman says to Dowd, while explaining that the director recently found the footage and handed it over to her. Nevertheless, Thurman feels that “they turned on me after the accident,” going from “being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool.”

"Clouds OF Sils Maria" Premiere - The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman attend the ‘Clouds Of Sils Maria’ premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2014 in Cannes, France. Photo by Foc Kan/FilmMagic
Foc Kan/FilmMagic

Tarantino’s response

Speaking to Deadline, Tarantino explains that he was fully aware of the pending New York Times article and in fact was due to speak with Dowd himself, to “back up Uma’s claims.” Yet the two were never able to meet, and the article that was ultimately published seemed to paint Tarantino as an antagonist.

“I read the article and basically it seemed like all the other guys lawyered up, so they weren’t even allowed to be named,” Tarantino explains. “And, through mostly Maureen Dowd’s prose, I ended up taking the hit and taking the heat.”

Tarantino clarifies that he “wanted to deliver [the crash footage]” to Thurman and was “happy” to hand it over once it was found. From his memory of the day of the crash, he had talked Thurman into doing the scene after testing the road himself, as he was confident she could “totally do it.” But then they ended up shooting the scene from the opposite direction, and the road was not as straight as it had initially appeared, which ultimately led to Thurman’s crash.

“She blamed me for the crash and she had a right to blame me for the crash,” Tarantino says. “I didn’t mean to do it. I talked her into getting in the car, I assured her the road was safe. And it wasn’t.” Tarantino calls the accident “heartbreaking,” and “one of the biggest regrets” of his life.

The aftermath

While Tarantino has been roundly criticized for his role in Thurman’s crash, the actress herself apparently did not intend for the article to become a villainization of her friend. In an Instagram post, Thurman defended Tarantino, explaining that she holds “Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh, and the notorious Harvey Weinstein solely responsible.”

View this post on Instagram

i post this clip to memorialize it’s full exposure in the nyt by Maureen Dowd. the circumstances of this event were negligent to the point of criminality. i do not believe though with malicious intent. Quentin Tarantino, was deeply regretful and remains remorseful about this sorry event, and gave me the footage years later so i could expose it and let it see the light of day, regardless of it most likely being an event for which justice will never be possible. he also did so with full knowledge it could cause him personal harm, and i am proud of him for doing the right thing and for his courage. THE COVER UP after the fact is UNFORGIVABLE. for this i hold Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh, and the notorious Harvey Weinstein solely responsible. they lied, destroyed evidence, and continue to lie about the permanent harm they caused and then chose to suppress. the cover up did have malicious intent, and shame on these three for all eternity. CAA never sent anyone to Mexico. i hope they look after other clients more respectfully if they in fact want to do the job for which they take money with any decency.

A post shared by Uma Thurman (@umathurman) on Feb 5, 2018 at 10:15am PST

The “circumstances of this event were negligent to the point of criminality,” Thurman writes. But Tarantino “was deeply regretful and remains remorseful” and helped her get the footage “with full knowledge it could cause him personal harm.”

It is the subsequent cover up by Bender, Walsh, and Weinstein that Thurman finds “unforgivable,” and accuses them of “malicious intent.”

“They lied, destroyed evidence, and continue to lie about the permanent harm they caused and then chose to suppress,” Thurman says. “Shame on these three for all eternity.”