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Why You Haven't Heard From Uma Thurman In A While

Once upon a time, Uma Thurman was Hollywood's hottest starlet. After "Pulp Fiction" wowed critics and audiences alike in 1994, Thurman seemed destined for box office greatness — but that fiercely shining star has dimmed somewhat in more recent years. Let's take a look at why she doesn't get many movie offers anymore.

Riding the Tarantino train

Name two Uma Thurman movies. Chances are, the first ones that came to mind were "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill," both written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Although she had over a dozen credits before "Pulp Fiction," Tarantino's cult classic was arguably the film that shot Thurman to stardom. After its success, she split her time between shooting for Oscar nods (1998's "Les Miserables" and 2005's "The Producers") and pandering to wider audiences with forgettable flicks like 1996's "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" and 2000's "The Golden Bowl."

Just when her career seemed sure to nosedive into oblivion, Uma Thurman teamed up with Tarantino again for both "Kill Bill" films, released in 2003 and 2004, respectively. As with "Pulp Fiction," the movies triggered a surge in Thurman's star status ... and as with "Pulp Fiction," that fame faded fairly quickly. Is Thurman's career entirely dependent on Tarantino? It's a responsibility he seems ready and willing to assume. According to David Carradine, who played Bill in "Kill Bill," Tarantino said of Thurman, "I want to be directing her for the rest of my life."

Thurman's baby daddy blues

Thurman fends off hordes of sword-swinging gangsters in "Kill Bill," but in real life, she's had to deal with something much worse: A child custody battle. According to TMZ, Thurman's ex Arpad Busson, the father of her youngest child, Luna, dropped an ultimatum on her in 2016, threatening that if she films a movie, she won't be able to see Luna anymore. If there's ever been a reason to turn down a movie role, that's gotta be it ... even if the motivation is totally messed up. Earlier in 2016, TMZ also reported that Busson had filed a request with the court to get more custody of their daughter. With all that time in front of a judge, it's no wonder Thurman doesn't have many chances to get in front of a camera.

Charity work

For years, Uma Thurman has been an outspoken member of a range of charities. Not only is she a board member for Room to Grow, a charity tasked with helping children born into poverty, she's also done advertising work as a spokesperson for USAID, an organization focused on helping those affected by war, famine, and drought in the Horn of Africa. Early 2016 also saw the actress put in face time at an AIDS charity event in Hong Kong. With all this humanitarian work, who has time to crank out blockbusters?

Uma Thurman has racked up the Razzies

Throughout her career, Thurman has been nominated for no less than three Golden Rasberries. The first came after 1993's "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," a Gus Van Sant adaptation of a novel by the same name. The Washington Post wrote that Uma Thurman's "strangely passive characterization doesn't go much deeper than drawling and flexing her prosthetic thumbs." Her next two Razzie nominations came back to back for her roles in 1997's "Batman & Robin," in which she played Poison Ivy, and 1998's "The Avengers." Thurman has bounced back a little since those flops, but they haven't exactly been forgotten. Considering the amount of time she's been a household name, she really doesn't have many noteworthy roles under her belt.

Thurman tends to be a box office bust

Razzies aren't great to have, but they don't necessarily mean a whole lot. What it all really comes down to is box office draw — and Uma Thurman just doesn't bring the gravy. Her filmography boasts a handful of films that grossed roughly $100 million or more during their theatrical runs, but for the most part, her Hollywood history is one of underwhelming financial returns. While it's true that a number of her movies have been lower-budget efforts that weren't aiming for blockbuster status, she's also been in a number of high-profile duds, including "Gattaca," "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," and "The Avengers."

Thurman's astronomic asking price

Despite her spotty film record, the "Kill Bill" series shot Uma Thurman's per-film asking price up to a hefty $12.5 million, according to W Magazine. That's a lot of cash to gamble on an actress who rarely draws a crowd, and few studios have been willing to take the bait. "Be Cool," Thurman's next film after "Kill Bill" wrapped, made less than half its $53 million budget on opening weekend, and barely broke even on overall domestic sales. The same year, 2005, "The Producers" bombed spectacularly with a $154,000 opening weekend, and proceeded to only make back $32.9 million of its $45 million budget. That's bound to make a production company think twice about footing the bill for Thurman's services.

Thurman's lawsuit lottery

Consider this: Maybe Uma Thurman just doesn't need the money any longer. She's certainly pulling in plenty from the court system. In 2010, she settled a $10 million lawsuit against British production company HandMade Films, the company behind British classics like "Monty Python's The Life of Brian" and "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels." According to Deadline, Thurman signed a contract to receive £2.8 million for the as-yet unreleased film "Eloise." When the production was delayed and Thurman wasn't paid, she sued for her original fee plus expenses lost waiting for production on the film to start. Between that and her millionaire ex, it's possible she just doesn't feel the need to act in every movie that comes her way just to get another paycheck — which is good news for anyone who suffered through her work opposite Ben Affleck in the infamous 2003 dud "Paycheck."

Broken bones

In June 2016, the BBC reported that Thurman had been thrown off a horse in the Caribbean and "broke a few bones." While the website didn't go into many details about what happened during the riding accident, it's definitely possible that her light 2016 filming schedule was partially due to her recovery from the injury. Whether it came down to casts or casting calls, Thurman didn't appear in any 2016 films, and her only IMDb credit — for "The Brits Are Coming" — ended the year in post-production.

Thurman's busy being a mom

Beyond all the lawsuits and celebrity gossip, Thurman is still a mom to three  children, and anyone who's ever been in that situation knows that, millionaire or not, it takes a lot of work to raise kids on your own. By her own account, it's been hectic. As she told the Times in 2009, "My big wish now is to make a little time for myself. I think many women, working women, get this. I mean, how do you justify that hour and a half to yourself? When you have this to do and that to do and you want to be there ... " This very private woman has a lot going on behind the scenes that even the tabloids don't pick up on.

Thurman has been spending time on the small screen

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Uma Thurman cranked out an average of two feature-length film projects per year. Nowadays, she keeps her slate of projects a little more diverse, in terms of medium. For instance, she's starred or guest-starred on a handful of television series produced in recent years, including NBC's 2015 version of "The Slap," six episodes of Bravo's "Imposters," and the short-lived Netflix organ transplant-based horror endeavor, "Chambers." Thurman is currently in the process of shooting the thriller series "Suspicion," which will air on Apple TV+.

During the 1980s and most of the 1990s, television was considered something of a step down for film actors. But thanks to the advent of prestige cable drama (and every streaming network's ongoing effort to make the next watercooler show), today's movie stars can dip in and out of TV without diminishing their professional stature. If Thurman winds up reinventing herself on TV at some point during the upcoming years, she won't even be the first '90s film icon to do so. Much to the utter bewilderment of many Gen Xers, a vast swath of people mostly know Winona Ryder as the mom from "Stranger Things."

Thurman's celebrated return to the stage

As has been well documented, Hollywood doesn't tend to offer an overabundance of worthwhile roles to women over the age of 35. So, in order to find stuff to do that would hold her interest, Uma Thurman ventured beyond the boundaries of mass media. She has since found herself acting on stage for flesh-and-blood audiences instead of cameras.  

In 2017, she played the lead in "The Parisian Woman," a Broadway production written by "House of Cards" showrunner Beau Willimon. Two years later, she performed the lead role in "Ghosts," penned by 19th century playwright Henrik Ibsen, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.  

"Ibsen's work, having studied it in high school a bit, was one of the things that drew me to want to be an actress," Thurman told the Boston Globe in 2019. "Ibsen's women are so fascinating and deep and complicated and truly require every scrap of talent one has to get through them."

Thurman's last few films haven't been classics, but then again, who cares?

Any actor who survives in show business for nearly 40 years is going to have made some crummy movies. Some of Uma Thurman's most recent forays onto the big screen certainly qualify as such: YA horror "Down A Dark Hall," con artist comedy "The Con is On," Lars von Trier's "The House that Jack Built," and baffling Robert De Niro family film "The War With Grandpa" all failed to generate much positive buzz. 

But honestly? We don't think Thurman is losing much sleep over any of that. This is someone who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein, endured a botched stunt Quentin Tarantino allegedly pressured her into doing, and still came out fighting. Let's take a moment to consider how many of her films have enriched our lives over the years — and the price we now know she paid to make them. Maybe the least we can do is not give her any flak if she feels like doing a silly feature, a la "The War With Grandpa."