Tarantino Responds to Thurman Interview as Past Remarks on Polanski Surface

Posted February 6, 2018 3:42 p.m. EST

Quentin Tarantino on Monday responded to Uma Thurman’s accusation that he had put her life at risk while making the “Kill Bill” films, calling the decision to make her perform a dangerous stunt one of the biggest regrets of his life and offering his own recollection of what had taken place.

Speaking to Deadline, Tarantino said that he had encouraged Thurman to drive a refitted car for one of the movies’ most memorable scenes, despite her trepidation about the plan. Video from the shoot shows Thurman struggling to control the car, as it swerves on the road and crashes.

The actress and the director agree that the crash undermined what had been a close relationship between them; they collaborated on the 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction” and the two “Kill Bill” films, which were released separately but created during a single production process. In an interview with The New York Times published Saturday, Thurman said that after the crash, which came near the end of the shoot, they were “in a terrible fight for years,” while Tarantino told Deadline that “a trust was broken.”

Tarantino said he and Maureen Dowd, the author of the Times piece, had not connected for an interview, telling Deadline, “Me and Dowd never hooked up.” Dowd said on Tuesday that she had reached out to Tarantino six times, twice through his agent, twice through his personal assistant and twice through personal numbers. The office of the agent, Mike Simpson, confirmed to Dowd that the director had received the message, she said. Thurman had also encouraged Tarantino to talk to Dowd.

The director did not dispute most of Thurman’s account but characterized his interaction with her differently. Thurman had said he was “furious” when he asked her to do the scene; Tarantino admitted that he had been irritated but said: “I’m sure I wasn’t in a rage and I wasn’t livid. I didn’t go barging into Uma’s trailer, screaming at her to get into the car.”

He said that he had tested the course, a one-lane strip of road in Mexico, before encouraging Thurman to perform the stunt, but then he decided to change the direction in which she would drive.

The change of direction “was the beginning of where the crash happened,” he said.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Thurman praised Tarantino for helping her obtain the footage when he knew it could do him personal harm. She wrote that while the circumstances of the crash were “negligent to the point of criminality,” she did not believe that his intent was malicious.

But in the midst of the #MeToo movement, Tarantino’s past actions and remarks have faced the pronounced scrutiny that has unearthed complaints of sexual assault by many in his industry, including, of course, his close collaborator Harvey Weinstein. In an interview in October, Tarantino expressed regret for not having taken a stronger stand against the producer, saying, “I knew enough to do more than I did.”

Thurman told The Times that Tarantino spit in her face and choked her while filming scenes in “Kill Bill,” rather than having other actors carry out actions ascribed to their characters. Those details raised eyebrows online as many questioned why the director had felt compelled to take part in such violence himself.

“Naturally, I did it. Who else should do it?” he told Deadline of the spitting scene, adding that he did not trust the actor, Michael Madsen, to execute the take properly. “I’m the director, so I can kind of art direct this spit,” he said.

He said that he had also choked Thurman with a chain for the film, for a shot that she suggested, and that he had choked actress Diane Kruger, with her permission, for a scene from the film “Inglourious Basterds.”

Also on Monday, Jezebel republished comments that Tarantino made to Howard Stern in 2003 in a column arguing that his interview with Deadline was disingenuous. During the interview with Stern, Tarantino insistently defended director Roman Polanski’s sexual abuse of a 13-year-old, Samantha Geimer.

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex in 1977, and fled the United States before his sentencing. He has since been accused of sexual abuse by two other women who say they were minors when he preyed on them.

In the 2003 interview, Tarantino was adamant that Polanski had not raped Geimer, arguing that she had wanted to have sex and “was down with this.”