Quentin Tarantino opened up about his role in Uma Thurman’s car crash on the set of Kill Bill in a wide-ranging new interview where the director also discussed the actress’ sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the aftermath of the crash and other accusations of cruelty against Tarantino that surfaced in Thurman’s recent New York Times article.
In that article, Thurman revealed that she suffered severe injuries after she was pressured into driving a stunt car she didn’t feel comfortable operating. Making matters worse, the studio, fearing a lawsuit, allegedly refused to provide Thurman’s lawyer with footage of the crash.
Speaking to Deadline, Tarantino said Thurman “asked, could I get her the footage? I had to find it, 15 years later. We had to go through storage facilities, pulling out boxes… I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think we were going to be able to find it. It was clear and it showed the crash and the aftermath. I was very happy to get it to Uma.” Tarantino added that he knew the New York Times would publish the crash footage, but he didn’t realize he’d be viewed as the main antagonist in the situation.
Tarantino was immediately and roundly criticized for his role in Thurman’s stunt car crash. However, the director told Deadline that the “prose” of the New York Times article made it seem like Thurman blamed him for the crash, whereas the actress hoped the footage would indict the film’s producers; in an Instagram post Monday, Thurman defended Tarantino, adding that she held producers “Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh, and the notorious Harvey Weinstein solely responsible.”
“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,” Thurman wrote Monday. “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.”
Tarantino explained to Deadline the situation behind the car crash. “I start hearing from the production manager, Bennett Walsh, that Uma is trepidatious about doing the driving shot,” he said. “None of us ever considered it a stunt. It was just driving. None of us looked at it as a stunt. Maybe we should have, but we didn’t. I’m sure when it was brought up to me, that I rolled my eyes and was irritated. But 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.”
The director added that the scene just required Thurman to drive straight down a Mexican road – “There are no weird dips, there are no gully kinds of things” – and that “Uma had a license. I knew she was a shaky driver, but she had a license.”
“Me and Uma had our issues about the crash. She blamed me for the crash and she had a right to blame me for the crash,” Tarantino said. “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. The car might even have been dubious too even if I didn’t know that then. We had our issues about it.”
Later in the interview, Tarantino said that, prior to filming Kill Bill, Thurman revealed that Weinstein forced himself on her; Weinstein had previously acted in a similar manner with Tarantino’s then-girlfriend Mira Sorvino.
“While we were getting ready to do Kill Bill, Uma tells me that he had done the same thing to her. That was when I realized there was a pattern, in Harvey’s luring and pushing attacks. So I made Harvey apologize to Uma,” the director said. “My confrontation [with Weinstein] was saying, you have to go to Uma. This happened. You have to apologize to her and she has to accept your apology, if we’re going to do Kill Bill together.”
As for accusations that Tarantino spat on and choked Thurman during key scenes in Kill Bill, the director explained, “Naturally, I did it. Who else should do it? A grip? One, I didn’t trust Michael Madsen because, I don’t know where the spit’s going to go, if Michael Madsen does it. I talked to Uma and I said, look. I’ve got to kind of commit to doing this to you… Now, I love Michael, he’s a terrific actor, but I didn’t trust him with this kind of intricate work, of nailing this. So the idea is, I’m doing it, I’m taking responsibility.”