Uma Thurman: ‘I didn’t appreciate being pretty when I was younger’
-Apr 11, Caroline Blight , Health -
Uma Thurman is currently sending shivers down our spine in her new Netflix series Chambers, a psychological drama about a young woman who receives a donated heart. It’s one of the few projects Uma, 48, has taken on since the birth of her third child Luna, who she had with ex-partner Arpad Busson six years ago. She also has daughter Maya, 20, and son Levon, 17, with her former husband Ethan Hawke.
After signing up for her first job when she was just 16, Uma has proved it is possible to have a life-long career in Tinstletown and take time out for family too.
She’s always been her own person
One thing is for sure, when it comes to acting Uma has always known it was her calling. After growing up listening to stories about her actress grandmother, who died when Uma was three, she felt it was something within her reach and by her teens it was time to move out of the family home to the big city to make her dreams come true.
“I moved to NYC when I was basically 15 years old,” she explains. “My parents say ‘you were very independent!’ I guess I was, I transferred my school and was cast in my first film age 16. I pretty much never stopped working until I had children.”
Looking back she realises this outlook on life is not the norm. “I was very driven at a very weirdly young age, I guess I must have been a very unhappy high school student’ she laughs. “I guess I had the luck of having passion for something that I could do because I could act and the phenomenal opportunity to be able to do it which doesn’t happen often.”
Perhaps through the confidence of always being offered roles she has wanted, Uma was happy to take a step back when she had children taking fewer roles and having whole years where she didn’t step on a film set or stage, “I’m very lucky in my children. I don’t like to talk about them much since they are private little people but I’m very fortunate l am very close to them and they are my heart. So that was wonderful.”
Check out: Celebrity mothering advice for Meghan Markle
And she has stood up against the sexism of Hollywood
During the #MeToo furore Uma spoke out about her sexual abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein and also the emotional manipulation she received as the ‘muse’ to Quentin Tarantino. Ultimately she hopes it will provide a better place for younger actors to work in – like her eldest daughter Maya.
“It’s definitely going to produce a better working environment,” she says. “It’s definitely safer, in a way I don’t want this to crush peoples creativity, it would still be nice to be able to fall in love with your leading man and not get arrested. I think we have to find our way from an ignorant place to a creative and respectful place.”
Uma enjoys the ageing process
She’s always been celebrated as a beautiful women and her looks have become iconic thanks to Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. But Uma says when she was growing up she never had a sense she was attractive in any way.
“I’m enjoying getting older because I feel I didn’t appreciate being pretty when I was younger,” Uma explains. “I felt terrible, in fact. When I was 10, someone told me I had an ugly smile, so I spent the whole of my younger years feeling embarrassed and never smiling with my mouth open. But what are you going to do?”
Being taller than average and not having all-American looks added to the feeling that she wasn’t one of life’s beauties, “I was a late in life bloomer as regards to coming into my own body I spent a lot of my life skulking and ducking and diving,” she admits. But as she gets older she appreciates her body and her appearance more than ever.“We all lose our looks as we get older and I actually think there’s a beauty to older people that’s just different to the beauty of younger people,” she explains. “You look good as a beautiful mature woman but you do not look 12 and if you tried you would look really weird.”
Exercise helped her find herself
Uma’s supermodel height might be celebrated now, but as a child and teen it was more of a hinderance, especially as she also felt uncoordinated. All that changed when she began training for Kill Bill.
“I had just had my second child when I was about to film Kill Bill and I went into training when he was three months old and I was still nursing him,” she explains. “I was really big, I’m someone who gains a lot of weight when I have babies. I don’t know why but I can only give birth at 190lbs. I have never been that athletic so it really did actually change my life in many ways. It gave me my centre. I think it changed me, I always identified as awkward and I didn’t see myself as being strong. When you train with Master Woo-Ping and his team from 9-5, five days a week and you hurt so bad you can’t walk up the stairs to your bedroom it’s like wow – I did that!”