Uma Thurman
Born Uma Karuna Thurman April 29, 1970 (1970-04-29) (age 41)Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1987–present
Spouse Gary Oldman (1990–1992)Ethan Hawke (1998–2004)


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Uma Thurman

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In 2001 at Cannes

Uma Karuna Thurman (born April 29, 1970) is an American actress. She has performed in leading roles in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action movies. Among her best-known roles are those in the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction (for which she received an Oscar nomination) and Kill Bill. In 2002 she won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Hysterical Blindness.

Early life

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Thurman was born in Boston to Nena von Schlebrügge and Robert Thurman, and grew up mostly in Amherst, Massachusetts and Woodstock, New York. Her father gave his children a Buddhist upbringing, and she is named after an Dbuma Chenpo (in Tibetan, the "db" is silent; from Mahamadhyamaka in Sanskrit, meaning "Great Middle Way"). Regarding religion, she now calls herself agnostic. She has three brothers, Ganden (b. 1971), Dechen (b. 1973), and Mipam (b. 1978), and a half-sister named Taya (b. 1960), from her father's previous marriage. She and her siblings spent time in Almora, India, during childhood, and the Dalai Lama sometimes visited their home. She is described as having been an awkward and introverted girl who was teased for her tall frame, angular bone structure, enormous feet and unusual name (sometimes using the name “Uma Karen” instead of her birth name). When she was 10 years old, a friend's mother suggested a nose job. As a child, she suffered bouts of body dysmorphic disorder, which she discussed in an interview with Talk magazine in 2001. She attended Amherst Public Schools. In the 8th grade she discovered her love for acting. Talent scouts noticed her performance as Abigail in a production of The Crucible, and offered her the chance to act professionally. Thurman attended Northfield Mount Hermon School, an elite preparatory school in Massachusetts, before dropping out to pursue a career in acting.

Family background
Thurman's mother, Nena von Schlebrügge, was a model born in Mexico City in 1941. Thurman's maternal grandfather was Colonel Baron Friedrich Karl Johannes von Schlebrügge, a German military officer who had become one of the senior Nazi spies in the Americas but who was also jailed by the Nazis for protecting Jewish friends. Thurman's maternal grandmother was Swedish-born Birgit Holmquist, from Trelleborg, who in 1930 modelled for a nude statue that overlooks the harbor of Smygehuk, Sweden (Birgit's father was Swedish and her mother was of German and Danish descent). Thurman's mother was introduced to LSD guru Timothy Leary by Salvador Dalí and became Leary's third wife in 1964. She wed Thurman's father, Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman (b. August 3, 1941), in 1967; he was born in New York City, to Elizabeth Dean Farrar, a stage actress, and Beverly Reid Thurman, Jr., an Associated Press editor and United Nations translator. He was professor of religion at Amherst College from 1973 to 1988, when he accepted a position at Columbia University, where he was a professor of Tibetan Buddhism. Robert Thurman was the first Westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk.


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At the 2000 Cannes Film Festival

Early work (1987–1989)
Thurman began her career as a fashion model at age 15, and signed with the agency Click Models. Her modeling credits included Glamour, the December 1985 supplement cover of Vogue and the May 1985 cover of British Vogue when she was only 15 years old. She made her movie debut in 1988, appearing in four films that year. Her first two were the high school comedy Johnny Be Good and the teen thriller Kiss Daddy Goodnight. She appeared in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, playing the goddess Venus alongside Oliver Reed's Vulcan; during her entrance she briefly appears nude in a homage to Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. With a budget of $46 million and box office receipts of only $8 million, the film was a commercial failure. Her breakthrough came in her role as Cecile de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. At the time, she was insecure about her appearance, and fled to London for almost a year, during which she wore only loose, baggy clothing. She was praised by her co-star John Malkovich, who said of her, "There is nothing twitchy teenager-ish about her, I haven’t met anyone like her at that age. Her intelligence and poise stand out. But there’s something else. She’s more than a little haunted."

Career prominence (1990–1993)
In 1990, Thurman co-starred with Fred Ward in the sexually provocative drama Henry & June, the first film to receive an NC-17 rating. Because of the rating, it never played in a wide release but critics embraced her. The New York Times wrote, “Thurman, as the Brooklyn-accented June, takes a larger-than-life character and makes her even bigger, though the performance is often as curious as it is commanding”. Her first starring role in a major production was Gus Van Sant's 1993 adaptation of Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. It was a critical and financial disappointment; Thurman was nominated for a Worst Actress Razzie. The Washington Post described her acting as shallow, writing that, "Thurman’s strangely passive characterization doesn’t go much deeper than drawling and flexing her prosthetic thumbs". She also starred opposite Robert De Niro in the drama Mad Dog and Glory, another box office disappointment. Later that year, she auditioned for Stanley Kubrick while he was casting a movie to be called Wartime Lies, which was never produced. Her agent said she described working with him as a "really bad experience."


After Mad Dog and Glory, Thurman auditioned for Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, which grossed over $107 million on a budget of only $8 million. The Washington Post wrote that Thurman was "serenely unrecognizable in a black wig, [and] is marvelous as a zoned-out gangster's girlfriend." Thurman was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar the following year. She became one of Tarantino's favorite actresses to cast; he told Time magazine in 2003 that she was "up there with Garbo and Dietrich in goddess territory."

1996 would see Thurman in two moderately successful films, the first of which was Beautiful Girls, where she played the female lead and love interest of Timothy Hutton and was supported with a high-profile cast (for that time) of Mira Sorvino, Martha Plimpton, and Natalie Portman. The film was well received by the critics for the script and acting, particularly that of Hutton and Portman. It performed moderately well at the box office. Thurman also starred opposite Janeane Garofalo in the moderately successful 1996 romantic comedy The Truth About Cats & Dogs as a ditzy blonde model. In 1997, she starred opposite her future husband Ethan Hawke in the science fiction film Gattaca. Although Gattaca was not a success at the box office, it drew many positive reviews and became successful on the home video market. Some critics were not as impressed with Thurman, such as The Los Angeles Times, which wrote that she was "as emotionally uninvolved as ever." Her next role was Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, the fourth of the series. Her performance received mixed reviews, and critics compared her to Mae West. The New York Times wrote, "like Mae West, she mixes true femininity with the winking womanliness of a drag queen." A similar comparison was made by the Houston Chronicle: "Thurman, to arrive at a '40s femme fatale, sometimes seems to be doing Mae West by way of Jessica Rabbit." The next year brought The Avengers, another major financial and critical flop. CNN described her as "so distanced you feel like you’re watching her through the wrong end of a telescope." She received Razzie Award nominations for both films. She closed out 1998 with Les Misérables, a film version of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name, directed by Bille August, in which she played Fantine.

Hiatus (1998–2002)

After the birth of her first baby in 1998, Thurman took a rest from major roles to concentrate on motherhood. Her next roles were in low-budget and television films, including Tape, Vatel, and Hysterical Blindness. She also starred in Chelsea Walls, a movie directed by then-husband Ethan Hawke. In 2000, she narrated a theatrical work by composer John Moran titled Book of the Dead (2nd Avenue) at The Public Theater. She won a Golden Globe award for Hysterical Blindness, a film for which she also served as executive producer. In the film, she played a New Jersey woman in the 1980s searching for romance. The San Francisco Chronicle review said, "Thurman so commits herself to the role, eyes blazing and body akimbo, that you start to believe that such a creature could exist—an exquisite-looking woman so spastic and needy that she repulses regular Joes. Thurman has bent the role to her will."

After a five-year hiatus, Thurman returned in 2003 in John Woo's film Paycheck, which was only moderately successful with critics and at the box office. Her next film was Tarantino's Kill Bill, which relaunched her career. In Kill Bill she played assassin Beatrix Kiddo, out for revenge against her former lover. Tarantino wrote the part specifically for her. He cited Thurman as his muse while writing the film, and gave her joint credit for the character, whom the two conceived on the set of Pulp Fiction from the sole image of a bride covered in blood. Production was delayed for several months after Thurman became pregnant, as Tarantino refused to recast the part. The film took nine months to shoot, and was filmed in five different countries. The role was also her most demanding , and she spent three months training in martial arts, swordsmanship, and Japanese. The two-part action epic became an instant cult classic and scored highly with critics. The film series earned Thurman Golden Globe nominations for both entries, and three MTV Movie Awards for Best Female Performance and twice for Best Fight. Rolling Stone likened her to "an avenging angel out of a 1940s Hollywood melodrama."

The inspirations for The Bride were several B-movie action heroines. Thurman's main inspiration for the role was the title character of Coffy (played by Pam Grier) and the character of Gloria Swenson from Gloria (played by Gena Rowlands). She said that the two characters are "two of the only women I've ever seen be truly women [while] holding a weapon."Coffy was screened for Thurman by Tarantino prior to beginning production on the film, to help her model the character.

By 2005, Thurman was commanding a salary of $12.5 million per film. Her first film of the year was Be Cool, the sequel to 1995's Get Shorty, which reunited her with her Pulp Fiction castmate John Travolta. In the film, she played the widow of a deceased music business executive. The film received poor reviews, and came in below expectations at the box office. In 2005, she starred in Prime with Meryl Streep, playing a woman in her late thirties romancing a man in his early twenties. Thurman's last film of the year was a remake of The Producers in which she played Ulla, a Swedish stage actress hoping to win a part in a new Broadway musical. Originally, the producers of the film planned to have another singer dub in Thurman's musical numbers, but she was eager to do her own vocals. She is credited for her songs in the credits. The film was considered a bomb at the box office, but many praised Thurman's efforts, including A. O. Scott of The New York Times who said: "Uma Thurman as a would-be actress is the one bit of genuine radiance in this aggressively and pointlessly shiny, noisy spectacle."

With a successful film career, Thurman once again became a desired model. Cosmetics company Lancôme selected her as their spokeswoman, and named several shades of lipstick after her, though they were sold only in Asia. In 2005, she became a spokeswoman for the French fashion house Louis Vuitton. On February 7, 2006, she was named a knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France for outstanding achievement in the field of art and literature.

In May 2006, she bought the film rights to the Frank Schätzing novel The Swarm, which is in development and due for release in 2011. When the film remake The Women was in pre-production in 2006, Thurman was cast as Crystal Allen, alongside Annette Bening, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Lisa Kudrow and Anne Hathaway, being directed by James L. Brooks, but the director was changed and Thurman was no longer part of the cast.[citation needed] In July 2006, she starred opposite Luke Wilson in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Thurman portrayed a super-heroine named "G-Girl" who is dumped by her boyfriend and then takes her revenge upon him. She received a reported $14 million for the role, but the film flopped. Once again she was well-received, but the film was not.

In February 2008, she starred opposite Colin Firth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Accidental Husband, a romantic comedy about a woman who finds herself married while engaged to another man. It seems like archetypal Hollywood contrivance, but according to Thurman, a similar situation happened in New York. Also in 2008, she starred as Elsa in the British film My Zinc Bed, in which she plays a cocaine addict, starring opposite Paddy Considine and Jonathan Pryce. In 2010, her movie Motherhood, set a record for the biggest bomb in British cinema history garnering just £88 on 11 tickets on its opening weekend. In the United States it earned just $93,388 in three weeks of release.

She will star in the film version of the 1950s books Eloise In Paris, playing the role of Nanny, to be directed by Charles Shyer.

In April 2011, it was announced that she would be a member of the jury for the main competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

Personal life

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Thurman met English actor Gary Oldman on the set of State of Grace, and they were married in 1990, but it ended two years later. On May 1, 1998, she married actor Ethan Hawke, whom she met on the set of Gattaca. Hawke's novel Ash Wednesday is dedicated to "Karuna", Thurman's middle name. She acknowledged that they had married because she was pregnant – seven months at their wedding. The marriage produced two children, daughter Maya Thurman Hawke (born July 8, 1998) and son Levon Green Hawke (born January 15, 2002), and the couple separated in 2003. When asked on The Oprah Winfrey Show whether the break-up involved betrayal, she said, “There was some stuff like that at the end. We were having a difficult time, and you know how the axe comes down and how people behave and how people express their unhappiness." In a 2004 Rolling Stone cover story, Thurman and director Quentin Tarantino denied having had a romantic relationship, despite Tarantino once having told a reporter, "I'm not saying that we haven’t, and I’m not saying that we have." She dated hotelier Andre Balazs from 2004 to 2006, and was engaged to London-based financier Arpad Busson, whom she began dating in 2007, but the relationship ended in November 2009.

Activism and charity work

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Thurman supports the United States Democratic Party, and has given money to the campaigns of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Joseph R. Driscoll. She supports gun control laws, and in 2000 she participated in Marie Claire’s “End Gun Violence Now” campaign. She is a member of the board of Room to Grow, a charitable organization providing aid to families and children born into poverty. She serves on the board of the Tibet House. In 2007, she hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway with actor Kevin Spacey.


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1988Johnny Be GoodGeorgia Elkans
1988Dangerous LiaisonsCécile de Volanges
1988Kiss Daddy GoodnightLaura
1988Adventures of Baron Munchausen, TheThe Adventures of Baron MunchausenVenus/Rose
1990Henry & JuneJune Miller
1990Where the Heart IsDaphne McBain
1991Robin HoodMaid MarianJohn Irvin directed TV movie.
1992Final AnalysisDiana Baylor
1992Jennifer 8Helena Robertson
1993Mad Dog and GloryGlory
1993Even Cowgirls Get the BluesSissy Hankshaw
1994Pulp FictionMia WallaceNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Performance
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
1995Month by the Lake, AA Month by the LakeMiss Beaumont
1996Truth About Cats & Dogs, TheThe Truth About Cats & DogsNoelle
1996Beautiful GirlsAndera
1996Duke of GrooveMayaTV film
1997GattacaIrene Cassini
1997Batman & RobinDr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
1998Les MisérablesFantine
1998Avengers, TheThe AvengersEmma Peel
1999Sweet and LowdownBlanche
2000VatelAnne de Montausier
2000Golden Bowl, TheThe Golden BowlCharlotte Stant
2001TapeAmy Randall
2001Chelsea WallsGrace
2002Hysterical BlindnessDebby MillerProducer
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, TV Mini-series
2003PaycheckDr. Rachel Porter
2003Kill Bill Volume 1The Bride / Black MambaEmpire Award for Best Actress
Saturn Award for Best Actress
MTV Movie Award for Best Performance
MTV Movie Award for Best Fight
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
2004Kill Bill Volume 2Beatrix Kiddo / The Bride / Black Mamba / MommyMTV Movie Award for Best Fight
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Empire Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Performance
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress - Drama
2005Be CoolEdie Athens
2005Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindKushana (Voice)English re-dub version of 1984 movie
2005PrimeRafi Gardet
2005Producers, TheThe ProducersUlla
2006My Super Ex-GirlfriendJenny Johnson/G-GirlNominated—People's Choice Awards
Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Fight
2007The Naked Brothers Band: The MovieHerself
2008Life Before Her Eyes, TheThe Life Before Her EyesDiana
2008Accidental Husband, TheThe Accidental HusbandEmma Lloydalso Producer
2008My Zinc BedElsa Quinn
2008Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, AA Muppets Christmas: Letters to SantaJoyTV film
2009MotherhoodEliza Welsh
2010Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning ThiefMedusa
2011Bel AmiMadeleine Forestierfilming
2012Movie 43Unknown


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1993Cognac Festival du Film PolicierJury "Coup de Chapeau"Jennifer 8Won
1995Razzie AwardsRazzie Award for Worst ActressEven Cowgirls Get the BluesNominated
1995Academy AwardsAcademy Award for Best Supporting ActressPulp FictionNominated
1995BAFTA AwardsBAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting RolePulp FictionNominated
1995Chlotrudis AwardsChlotrudis Award for Best Supporting ActressPulp FictionNominated
1995Golden Globe AwardsGolden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion PicturePulp FictionNominated
1995MTV Movie AwardsMTV Movie Award for Best PerformancePulp FictionNominated
1995Screen Actors Guild AwardsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting RolePulp FictionNominated
1998Kids' Choice AwardsKids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie ActressBatman & RobinNominated
1998Razzie AwardsRazzie Award for Worst Supporting ActressBatman & RobinNominated
1999Razzie AwardsRazzie Award for Worst ActressAvengers, TheThe AvengersNominated
2001Gotham AwardsBest ActressWon
2002Independent Spirit AwardsIndependent Spirit Award for Best Supporting FemaleTapeNominated
2003Golden Globe AwardsGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television FilmHysterical BlindnessWon
2003Screen Actors Guild AwardsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television MovieHysterical BlindnessNominated
2004Saturn AwardsSaturn Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 1Won
2004BAFTA AwardsBAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading RoleKill Bill Vol. 1Nominated
2004Empire AwardsEmpire Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 1Won
2004Golden Globe AwardsGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture DramaKill Bill Vol. 1Nominated
2004MTV Movie AwardsMTV Movie Award for Best PerformanceKill Bill Vol. 1Won
2004Online Film Critics Society AwardsOnline Film Critics Society Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 1Nominated
2004Irish Film and Television AwardsAudience Award for Best International ActressKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2004Teen Choice AwardsTeen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress – Drama/Action AdventureKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005Saturn AwardsSaturn Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005Broadcast Film Critics Association AwardsCritics Choice Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005Empire AwardsEmpire Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005Golden Globe AwardsGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture DramaKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005MTV Movie AwardsMTV Movie Award for Best PerformanceKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005Online Film Critics Society AwardsOnline Film Critics Society Award for Best ActressKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005Satellite AwardsSatellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture DramaKill Bill Vol. 2Nominated
2005People's Choice AwardsPeople's Choice Award for Favorite Female Action Movie StarNominated
2007People's Choice AwardsPeople's Choice Award for Favorite Female Action Movie StarNominated

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