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Uma Thurman is one bride who wears red — from other people’s blood.
Her character The Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s ruthless revenge fantasy “Kill Bill — Vol. 1” and the new “Kill Bill — Vol. 2” began when the two worked together 10 years ago on “Pulp Fiction” and began making up stories about a woman, marked for death on her wedding day, who goes on a gruesome killing spree.
Thurman is Tarantino’s crimson-soaked muse.
“Together, we talked about The Bride forever,” Thurman said. “We were out one night talking and he was telling me about genres and filmmaking, and (the 1973 blaxploitation revenge film) ‘Coffy’ and different movies...”
Thurman, who turns 34 April 29, said their conversations would run hours. “We got going back and forth and cooked up the character of The Bride together. Like, wouldn’t it be great to play this woman...assassin...wedding chapel massacre...and da da da da dah. Usually that kind of talk is cheap but not with him. He went and sculpted the seed ideas of the movie.”
Thurman, he said, would play a sexy assassin who wants out of the business. Her boss and lover, Bill, would slay her groom and entire wedding party and leave her for dead. Resurrected years later, she would embark on a mission of revenge to kill you know who (David Carradine) and his squad of hired murderers (Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox and Michael Madsen).
Birth of a heroineBut like the character, the story of “Kill Bill” and The Bride would remain comatose for years. After “Pulp Fiction,” Thurman and Tarantino crossed paths less and less. They met again at a Miramax Oscar party about four years ago, and Thurman inquired about the fate of their limb-slicing heroine.
“Somehow or another he got completely excited about the idea again and went and found the pages and started writing again. He just put it somewhere, on some yellow legal pad, somewhere in his files. I just asked out of interest, in case he lost them. That led to his two years of writing.”
He wrote so much that the saga of The Bride became two movies. The first installment came out in November and was praised for its stylish action sequences in which the violence was almost cartoonish (one extended scene was animated).
Sliced-off arms and decapitated necks blasted blood like firehoses as Thurman wielded a mystical sword against a legion of foes. After that, what’s left for the second half?
Tarantino tones it down. “The first movie in its own sort of wild way is expressionistic, sensorial action piece that’s almost a setup for this movie. It’s the source. You see The Bride in all of her fierceness and streamlined rage,” Thurman said. “The second one is where you really see her origin and her struggle and what she lost.”
Opposites attractThurman said the key to her relationship with the director is contrast.
“I think we’re really different people actually, but that’s what’s fun about talking to each other. We have very different perspectives. He’s a very extroverted, public person. I’m a very introverted person. We’re just very different characters, but somehow or other...” She finished the sentence with a shrug.
The “Kill Bill” saga has provided Thurman with a career renaissance, restoring her status as a guy-flick vixen after late-1990’s flops “Batman & Robin” and “The Avengers.”
Her screen presence waned during her three-year marriage to Ethan Hawke. She appeared in little-seen dramas such as 2000’s “The Golden Bowl” and 2001’s “Chelsea Walls,” which Hawke directed. She’s currently at work on “Be Cool” a sequel to the mobster-in-Hollywood comedy, “Get Shorty.”
Hawke and Thurman, who have two children together, split up last summer after reports that Hawke had an affair with a Canadian model. “It hasn’t been a big issue for a long time,” she said of the breakup. “It’s something I don’t want to talk about anymore, because I just don’t think it’s good for my children.”
Although a credit at the end of the “Kill Bill” movies states: “Based on the character of ‘The Bride’ created by Q & U,” the U in that equation shies away from recognition for the story.
She said The Bride’s dialogue is a mixture of Tarantino’s rat-a-tat-tat speechifying with Thurman’s sleepy-sexy delivery. “It’s a weird, interesting melding of his and my voice.”