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Kill Bill: Volume One - Uma Thurman Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. You must have been thrilled that Mr Tarantino was prepared to wait until you had given birth? And be prepared and fit enough to take on this role?
A.
I was. I was incredibly, incredibly pleased, amazed, overwhelmed... and it is a testament to his loyalty, friendship, and patience and general goodness.
Tarantino: But didn't I put some pressure on you, though, saying things like 'now we have waited six months for you, you really, really have to deliver'.
Thurman: Oh yeah, yeah [laughs]. They used to call me actually, not Quentin, but they used to call me from production and say, 'ok now, so when's the baby coming, cos we're trying to schedule it'. And finally, it was like, 'if you put any more pressure on me to drop this baby, I'm going to hang on to it'. He's going to be overdue! He's going to be coming out with dry feet!
Tarantino: Didn't you have to say, at one stage, 'everybody, I'm not baking a loaf of bread, I am having a baby!'

Q. Did you feel that the pressure was really on, given that they had postponed filming in order for you to be able to play the role of The Bride?
A.
Ah yeah, the pressure was immense. Denial was really the best way to move forward. I had to break it down into the smallest, possible pieces. The only thing I had, and the only thing, really, that I ever have, and this is a constantly moving goal-line, is that I will constantly do my best. I will do my best today, in the next hour, in the shot. I will do my best and I will stand back up after I fall down. That’s sort of how I had to take it, pretty much for five months. There were three months of training, and that was pretty momentous.
The first time I put on my yellow tracksuit, and the first time I was in a remotely presentable shape to take on 88 people, I had tears in my eyes, because the entire wardrobe costume had bloody fingers from taking that costume in every week. I was slowly, slowly shrinking, and it was getting down to the wire, you know, ‘is she going to make it’? It would have been kind of funny for Quentin, to have this very large-bottomed samurai.
Then we pretty much went into the sequence of the House of Blue Leaves, which was deceptively expanded. In normal film world language, when you look on the schedule, or when you look at a 220 page script, and your director says this is going to be a 90-minute film, you start to think that this means this is going to be quick, I’ll spend time on that dialogue and, ooh, that scene will be quick, and you sort of pick through it in complete ignorance. On the schedule, that sequence was meant to be two weeks, so in any normal movie, if the sequence were to, say, go a third, or 50 per cent, or double this time, it would be considered a cataclysmic failure on the part of production, so you kind of believe that these are rules that might apply. Eight weeks later, when I walked off that set, covered in blood, with my sword and my beautiful fight scene behind me, I fell to my knees, and felt that I had been involved in something, and done something, that was going to break every rule of cinema, and I was involved in a completely different journey.

Q. What's your favourite method of killing in Kill Bill?
A.
I have a very self-sacrificing, kind of noble hard way to go about it. Me and my sword; I'm very possessive of my sword. I earned it. I became one with it, and it took a long time. When I first had it, it was like [mimic's removing it from its protective cover and hitting herself in the face with the handle].
I learned the hard way how to handle that thing. So, not a favourite way of killing, but my favourite thing was the journey that took me to that sword. And it was the hardest journey you could possibly go through.

Q. Is there anything you wouldn't do for Quentin Tarantino?
Tarantino:
Well, there's a lot of things I wouldn't ask her to do, you know? Not many, but a few.
Thurman:
One time, before production, he called me up and he was kind of blushy and nervous on the phone. He said, 'I'm going to read you something, I feel really bad about it, and you can have any reaction you want...'
He then preceded to read me a meatier version of the Fuck Buck scene. It was the goriest, most violent, multi-Francis Farmer-style sequence, complete with a fantasy sequence that went on, and went to Hell; it was really something. The villain ended up having his behind smacked by a cloven-footed...
Tarantino: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll describe it. After she kills Buck and bashes that door into his head, we cut to a title card which says 'one week later, in Hell'. And all these centaurs and minotaurs are lining up to gang fuck Buck, alright? And this big minotaur with this big, bold, blue veiny dick comes over and starts ramming it up his arse; his cloven-hoof is smacking his cheek; he's crying in pain; the devils are laughing and playing little violins to his pain.
Thurman: He felt so bad about the gang raping of The Bride, that he felt he had to add in this Hell sequence. It was quite fantastic. My response to it was to be completely amused and therein was the kind of journey. But everything worked out okay with him [Tarantino]; it's hard-going sometimes, but it comes out pretty good.

Q. What did you take away from the experience of working in China and how important is it to you that it is welcomed over there?
A.
I probably saw the least of China. I pretty much just hung out at the studio every day. But I agree that it certainly was a subversion. And also the team, the Beijing team of the Master Yuen Woo-ping, that were all of the Crazy 88, were what really made that part special for me. I don't know if we would have had all those guys if we were anywhere else. Their team work was... I went to training with the Masters' head captain, they were my life's blood, these people were very special to me and went with me from the very beginning. Since really my time was mainly focused on my battle with them, the support that I got from them, and my experience with them, and their discipline and hardworking nature was very humbling, particularly as there were people there who work so hard for so little. It certainly made my journey there the most meaningful to get to be with those people, and their support was what took me through that fight.

 

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