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Tarantino Says Uma Thurman's Car Stunt Was 'One Of The Biggest Regrets Of My Life'

Director Quentin Tarantino and actress Uma Thurman pose at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. He acknowledges persuading her to do a dangerous driving scene that ended in a crash.
Bertrand Langlois
AFP/Getty Images
Director Quentin Tarantino and actress Uma Thurman pose at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. He acknowledges persuading her to do a dangerous driving scene that ended in a crash.

Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino acknowledged that he is responsible for insisting that actress Uma Thurman perform a car stunt that resulted in a crash that nearly killed her 15 years ago.

Thurman's account of the accident, which chilled relations between Thurman and Tarantino for years, was detailed in a New York Times story over the weekend. Much of the article centers on Thurman's allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Thurman said the accident happened in Mexico near the end of the shooting of the 2004 release Kill Bill Vol. 2 after she had expressed her reluctance to drive a blue Karmann Ghia down a sandy road. She said she had been warned that the car was not operating correctly after its manual transmission was reconfigured to an automatic. She said she wanted a stunt driver to do the shot.

But Tarantino insisted that she drive the car. Thurman posted footage of the crash on Instagram.

Thurman told the Times that the crash caused permanent damage to her knees and neck.

Tarantino offered his version of the story in an interview with Deadline Hollywood.

Tarantino said that in retrospect, the road he thought was safe actually was not and he faulted himself for not doing a double-check. "That was one of my most horrendous mistakes, that I didn't take the time to run the road, one more time, just to see what I would see," he said.

Instead, believing that the road wasn't a problem, he persuaded Thurman to drive around 30 to 45 mph.

"Uma's response was ... 'OK' because she believed me, because she trusted me. I told her it would be OK. I told her the road was a straight line. I told her it would be safe. And it wasn't. I was wrong. I didn't force her into the car. She got into it because she trusted me. And she believed me."

Watching the star of his movie crash was "just horrible," Tarantino said.

"It was heartbreaking. Beyond one of the biggest regrets of my career, it is one of the biggest regrets of my life."

Tarantino said he went back over the road later and found "a little mini S-curve" that hadn't been clear to him earlier. He also said he had misjudged how much sand there was in the dirt road.

Tarantino said that "a trust was broken" and that he and Thurman were at odds "for the next two to three years," before coming to terms with what had happened.

"We had a big dinner in the Soho House in New York and there we dealt with all the car stuff, and all the resentments she had toward me. The things she felt I could have done better in protecting her in that movie. And we hashed it all out, put it behind her and we've been fantastic friends ever since."

In the New York Times article, Thurman said that Tarantino atoned for the accident by giving her what she had demanded for years — the film footage of the crash. In her Instagram post, she alleges that the producers of Kill Bill Vol. 2, including Weinstein, tried to suppress the footage.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.

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