Get this: "The Bride" doesn't like violence

Kill Bill: Vol. 2's Uma Thurman separates movie gore and real life

April 5, 2004
Toronto Star
By Peter Howell

HOLLYWOOD - Uma Thurman says her vengeful bride character in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill has become such a part of the culture of violence, teen girls now invoke her name when taking on school adversaries.

"I know that some high school girls were referring to defending themselves as saying they were we going to `Do an Uma' on that person ... and I thought this was really funny," Thurman said over the weekend in advance of the April 16 release of Kill Bill: Vol. 2. (The first half of the movie, released in theatres last fall as Kill Bill: Vol. 1, arrives on DVD April 13.)

The statuesque Thurman, 33, said she has also spotted many young girls dressing up in yellow tracksuits like the one her character The Bride sports while using a samurai blade to slice and dice opponents.

But Thurman admitted she doesn't really find violence funny, or as easy to do as it looks in Kill Bill, which continues The Bride's one-woman murder spree in the hunt for Bill, her sadistic former boss and lover, played by David Carradine.

Even tougher to take, however, is the hypocrisy of American society that winks at acts of real-life violence while expressing outrage toward violence in movies.

"As a mother, I hate violence," Thurman said.

"But I also hate what I find that's really weird: This American phenomenon of having such tolerance for real-life violence and making such a big fuss about creative expressions of violence.

"America is so violent. It's so much more violent than anywhere. We're one of the few western countries, maybe the only one, that allows guns."

She didn't explicitly name the federal U.S. government led by President George W. Bush, but her meaning was clear. She holds the feds accountable for failing to adequately address violent gun crime in city streets -- a problem that is also of serious concern in Toronto, which at one time was referred to as Toronto the Good for its lack of violence and crime.

"This is still a huge struggle," Thurman continued. "We have millions of handguns on the street and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. But they want to talk about violence in movies from a government level. And yet they all are so deeply in bed with the NRA (National Rifle Association) that they won't do anything about constant shootings that are happening all over the country."

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is much more of a character-driven movie than its predecessor. It will surprise many people to learn that The Bride has much warmer feeling toward Bill than his attempted assassination of her would suggest. Both The Bride and Bill are much more than just killing machines, so much so that Thurman says she wondered if she really could fulfill the movie's title.

"When I first read the script, one of the things that really niggled me -- there were many -- was that I wasn't really convinced reading it that I really wanted just to kill Bill ... and I worried that if there's ambivalence about killing Bill, does that kill the movie?

"And ultimately, in the playing of the moment, I found there was room for all those things.

"There was room for ambivalence. There was room for heartbreak. There was room for revenge. There was room for, `Goodbye, Bill.'"

Being an actress means having to do things that you might not do in real life. But Thurman admitted she originally balked at the many hours of martial-arts training she ultimately required both in China and in the U.S. to get in shape to wreck havoc.

Her indoctrination into Tarantino's kung fu world included watching as many classic martial arts movies as she could stand. It wasn't always easy for her.

"They'd send me a Bruce Lee tape and I'd watch Bruce and I'd go, `Forget it! I can't do that! It's never going to happen!'"

But she saw it through, and even found time to laugh on the set.

"I used to say to David every day, `You're going down! So glad to see ya, I can't wait to kill ya!'"

Thurman said she patterned her performance on two powerful women in older independent films: Pam Grier in the 1970s blaxploitation film Coffy and Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes' Gloria.

"Maybe Pam Grier and Gena Rowlands are two of the only women I've ever seen on film holding a gun and being really women. Not being like Starship Troopers, or something. Being really women and being convincing and powerful and incredible."

In Kill Bill: Vol. 2, The Bride is buried alive inside of a coffin. Asked for her advice to moviegoers on how to avoid a similar fate, Thurman quipped, `Don't let it happen to you.'"