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Uma Thurman Recounts Terrifying Kill Bill Car Accident

Fifteen years after a violent car crash took place on the set of Kill Bill: Volume 1, director Quentin Tarantino has renounced his hold on the video of the accident. Actress Uma Thurman, who played The Bride in the martial arts film, revealed the footage in a new New York Times story, recounting the terrifying crash and speaking out against the "dehumanizing" experience of filming the Kill Bill movies. 

Thurman says that she felt immense pressure from Tarantino to shoot the stunt — the scene in which she begins driving to murder Bill (David Carradine) — that required her to drive a reconfigured convertible. She notes that she'd heard the vehicle wasn't in good working condition, and had expressed that she was uncomfortable with the idea of driving it. Thurman says that she also suggested a professional stunt driver perform the scene, but Tarantino insisted she operate the vehicle by herself. 

"Quentin came in my trailer and didn't like to hear no, like any director," she explains. "He was furious because I'd cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said, 'I promise you the car is fine. It's a straight piece of road. Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won't blow the right way and I'll make you do it again.' But that was a death box that I was in. The seat wasn't screwed down properly. It was a sand road, and it was not a straight road."

What happened next was Thurman's worst fear realized: As she was attempting to handle the vehicle across a narrow curve, the car swerved off the road and crashed into a palm tree at a high speed. The footage (included in the New York Times piece) shows Thurman holding her head in her hands and then leaning against the driver's seat chair in the moments after impact. Later, crew members (and Tarantino himself) are seen comforting Thurman, who is then able to stand up. 

But that doesn't mean she walked away unscathed. It's quite the opposite, actually. As Thurman recalls, "The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me. I felt this searing pain and thought, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to walk again.' When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car and I was very upset."

Thurman states that Tarantino "had an enormous fight" afterward, and she accused him of trying to kill her. "He was very angry at that, I guess understandably," she said, "because he didn't feel he had tried to kill me."

When Thurman asked her lawyer to send a letter to production and distribution company Miramax asking to see the video of the crash and indicating her right to sue, Miramax offered on one condition: She was to sign a document "releasing them of any consequences of my future pain and suffering." Thurman refused. 

For years, she and Tarantino fought over the footage of the accident, but the director agreed to hand it over to her in the midst of the sexual misconduct allegations against Miramax co-founder and former Weinstein Company head Harvey Weinstein. According to Thurman, the accident happened in the final four days of filming on Kill Bill, after she says she told Tarantino that Weinstein had sexually assaulted her in London following the 1994 release of Pulp Fiction. The rise of the #MeToo movement, Thurman says, inspired her to try to obtain the crash footage by putting the pressure on Tarantino. 

"Quentin finally atoned by giving it to me after 15 years, right?" Thurman says. "Not that it matters now, with my permanently damaged neck and my screwed-up knees ... When they turned on me after the accident, I went from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool."

Tarantino didn't respond to the New York Times' request for comments.