Uma

Uma Thurman knows that there are no retakes in theater, no postproduction fixes, no chances to dub in a line. When she strides onstage for “The Parisian Woman,” a play by Beau Willimon, the “House of Cards” creator, that opens Nov. 30 at the Hudson Theater, no flattering lenses or editing trickery will help her.

“Of course it’s exposing,” she said over dinner recently, “but no exposure, no challenge. You can’t test yourself in safety.” […]

“It wasn’t very difficult to cast her,” said Stephen Frears, the director of “Dangerous Liaisons,” speaking by telephone. “She was so striking, so beautiful and so fresh.”

She was also, as Mr. Frears said, “very formidable.” That’s a hallmark of her career and also maybe a clue to why that career has been so eclectic. Ms. Thurman isn’t a delicate actress or a melting one or the kind who comes right to the front of a movie screen and invites you in. There’s a remove in a lot of her best work (“Henry & June,” “Kill Bill”), a sense that she has emotions and ideas that are hers alone.

She has refused to be typecast as a siren or a femme fatale and has struggled to find roles that attract her. It isn’t that she won’t play wives and girlfriends — she will, she has. But these are women as likely to steal a scene as to yield to it.

Quentin Tarantino, who directed her as a gangster’s wife in “Pulp Fiction” and wrote the “Kill Bill” movies for her, compared Ms. Thurman to golden-age luminaries like Greta Garbo and Bette Davis. “There’s this year’s blonde and there’s last year’s blonde. Interchangeable. But to me, Uma has a quality that could rank with a Marlene Dietrich,” he said in a phone interview. He also called her, with affection, “a big, tall willow.” […]

Playing Chloe, she said, was taxing her more than any part in a decade. It was forcing her to use all of her actorly muscles “in a more total and protracted way.”

Is Chloe a siren? Maybe. A femme fatale? Depends who you ask. Happily, she is more than that, too.

As dinner wound down, with plates of vegetables and tiny bowls of tofu littering the table, Ms. Thurman considered the question of what a woman like Chloe really wants. “I think I’m still exploring that,” she said. Finally, she gave what she called “a most banal and bad answer.”

“I think she’s wanting and demanding to be fully alive,” Ms. Thurman said.

~ Alexis Soloski, excerpts from “Uma Thurman, Ready to Be Tested.” Hollywood’s “contempt and dismissiveness” toward women have led her to Broadway. In “The Parisian Woman,” she’ll be onstage for every minute of every scene. (NY Times, Nov 8, 2017)

Comments

  1. “I think she’s wanting and demanding to be fully alive,” Truth hides behind the banal and obvious. Let go of judgment and trust the inner guide.
    Good on you Uma ❣️ And Dave for sharing. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. She is like no one else but herself and she’s spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “You can’t test yourself in safety.”
    This line alone is worth the price of admission.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. she is true to herself and understands her power.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Every sentence here rings true. She is all that and more. And I don’t find her last sentence banal. It’s what we all wish for, to be fully alive. Life lived on a day to day basis for most has no safety net. I am convinced she will take the ‘Parisian woman’ to new hights and Parisians might have to eat their heart out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kiki, thank you. Your thoughts remind me of:

      Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous.

      ~ Anaïs Nin, from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

      ——-
      and For some reason, this too (“For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweet as when one longs to taste it”):

      For twenty-five years I have held this passage from Marilynne Robinson’s novel Housekeeping in my mind: Imagine a Carthage sown with salt, and all the sowers gone, and the seeds lain however long in the earth, till there rose finally in vegetable profusion leaves and trees of rime and brine. What flowering would there be in such a garden? Light would force each salt calyx to open in prisms, and to fruit heavily with bright globes of water—peaches and grapes are little more than that, and where the world was salt there would be greater need of slaking. For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweet as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing—the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries. This seemed (and seems) to me, besides being prose of consummate clarity and beauty, to so perfectly articulate not only the sense of absence that for years I felt permeating every spiritual aspect of my life, but also, and more important, to bestow upon it an energy and agency, a prayerful but indefinable promise: “the world will be made whole.”

      ~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; April 1, 2014)

      Like

  6. With looks like she just walked out of an Ingmar Bergman movie, and then stepped into the world of Tarantino…amazing talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We love Uma here. She is all these things and more – a complex woman actor, like Charlotte Rampling, Glen Close, Frances McDormand, Helen Mirren and their ilk. Angelina Jolie wants to be but isn’t, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

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