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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Tarantino expresses regret over Uma Thurman stunt accident

Director responded over claim he had made the actress perform a car stunt that put her life in danger

Quentin Tarantino apologised to Uma Thurman over a car stunt that went wrong in the film Kill Bill. AFP/Bertrand LANGLOIS
Quentin Tarantino apologised to Uma Thurman over a car stunt that went wrong in the film Kill Bill. AFP/Bertrand LANGLOIS

Quentin Tarantino has responded to Uma Thurman’s allegation that he put her life in danger with a dangerous car stunt in Kill Bill, calling the incident “the biggest regret of my life”.

But just as he was making amends for that incident – and trying to explain it – the director was being excoriated on social media on Tuesday for remarks he made in a 2003 interview with Howard Stern that resurfaced online, seemingly defending Roman Polanski for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, saying the victim “wanted to have it” and was “down to party” with Polanski.

The incident involving Ms Thurman became public on Saturday, in a New York Times column in which the actress, while also making sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, recounted Tarantino’s persuading her to drive a car on the Mexico set that she had been warned might be faulty.

Ms Thurman told columnist Maureen Dowd that she had expressed fear beforehand, and asked that a stunt driver do it instead. An irritated Tarantino convinced her to do it, she said, and she crashed into a tree, suffering what she said was permanent neck damage, a concussion and damage to her knees. Video that Ms Thurman provided the Times – which was provided to her by Mr Tarantino himself – shows her struggling to control the car before crashing, and then being lifted out of the vehicle.

In an interview with Deadline published on Monday, Mr Tarantino disputed some of the details in the Times account but said he had indeed persuaded the actress to drive the car, although not as angrily as described. He said he had driven the road himself and it had seemed totally straight, but that a decision was made for Ms Thurman to drive it in the other direction, and somehow there was a turn that he didn’t expect.

“I didn’t force her into the car,” he told Deadline. “She got into it because she trusted me. And she believed me.” He said seeing the crash was “just horrible ... It was heartbreaking." He called it “the biggest regret of my life.”

Ms Thurman spoke out again on Monday on Instagram, reposting the crash video and acknowledging that Mr 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 ... I am proud of him for doing the right thing and for his courage.” She said she held the film’s producers and “the notorious Harvey Weinstein” responsible for covering up and refusing to give her the video for years.

“They lied, destroyed evidence, and continue to lie about the permanent harm they caused and then chose to suppress,” the actress wrote.

It wasn’t just the car incident that called Mr Tarantino’s behaviour into question; Ms Thurman also said the director himself both spit on her and choked her during scenes where it was called for in the script. Mr Tarantino explained to Deadline that he spit on the actress himself because he felt he could do accomplish it more efficiently than actor Michael Madsen, and that it was Ms Thurman’s idea that he choke her. “I can act all strangle-ey, but if you want my face to get red and the tears to come to my eye, then you kind of need to choke me,” Mr Tarantino explained.

The director was also getting severely criticised on Twitter on Tuesday as audio surfaced of his remarks concerning Polanski, 84, who has been a fugitive since fleeing to France in 1978 while awaiting sentencing for unlawful sex with a minor in 1975.

“She wanted to have it and dated the guy,” Mr Tarantino says in the audio interview. When Howard Stern and his co-host, Robin Quivers, protest, the director replies: “Look, she was down with this.”

Some were noting on Tuesday that Polanski will figure as a significant character in Mr Tarantino’s upcoming film about the Manson murders, slated to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the murders next year. Sharon Tate, who was killed, was married to Polanski.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with the girl, Samantha Geimer, when she was 13. She has said he drugged and raped her.