TheBlot Magazine Exclusive interview of Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman plays the heck out of her character (Mrs. H) in Lars von Trier’s new film, “Nymphomaniac.” The film is worth seeing especially because of her range of emotion. The movie became too long, so it is being released as two separate films: volume I and II. I’m not sure that was the best way to go. The cuts feel jarring. But now that you know, go see this movie. It is another strong and unusual film by von Trier.
I was not into seeing a porn flick just for shock’s sake, but hallelujah, it’s not that at all. Yes, there are plenty of sex scenes, but if you’re hoping for raunch, then don’t go. The sex scenes are not even the central focus of the film. The story covers 20 years in the life of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed sex addict. (Stacy Martin stars as the younger Joe.) The flick boasts a powerhouse cast, which also includes Christian Slater and Stellan Skarsgard.
I was thrilled that Thurman agreed to sit down with me for an interview. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since “Pulp Fiction.” Waiting for her, I expected to be awed by her famous 6′ height (I’m only 5’2”), but instead I just looked in her face and saw her smile as she came over and sat down. Once we were seated, the height was never a thing. She spoke candidly and without Hollywood diva affectation. I felt like I was just hanging out with a friend, chatting in her living room.
I was recording her on my iPhone, and at one point she stopped answering a question to look down at it and point. She said, “Look, you’re getting a Facebook message.” It was a funny moment because whoever it was could wait.
Q: How did you like working with Lars von Trier?
Uma Thurman: It was a fantastic experience. I’d always wanted to work with him and never knew that I would be able to.
Because we didn’t know each other. We’d never met. It was such a wonderful thing. I got this phone call that said, “Lars von Trier wants you to do this big, giant scene in his movie.” I was so excited.
You’d just had a baby then, right?
Yes, my baby was three weeks old and along came the script. I thought it was a magnificent, wonderfully textured, challenging scene with more twists and turns than I’ve had sometimes in a whole movie. It was just perfect, perfect, perfect. It was a dream come true.
I would think you’d have your pick of roles, no?
You were shy when you were younger and moved around a lot. Since you were always the new kid at school, do you feel nervous on a new movie set?
Always. It’s terrifying! But, I have been doing this since I was a teenager, and been through every awkward phase you can think of. Living the life of an actress and becoming famous, I’ve had ups and downs at different times in my life, and you have experiences in your public and private life. I think I’ve finally gotten to a much more relaxed place with it all. I guess that’s the great part of growing up. You start to accept yourself.
Did you ad-lib?
It was all in the script. She lost control of her life and is desperately humiliating herself, trying to do it with some kind of pride and dignity.
How different was it to prepare for one intense scene instead of a whole movie?
This character does as much as you could do over the course of a whole movie in one massively concentrated section. I prepared like I would if I were going to do a monologue in a one-act play. I ran it and ran it and ran it and worked through the lines, and thought through them trying to get inside the psyche of von Trier through his words. That’s what you do. It’s like breaking down a poem but then performing it. I walked in prepared and we let it fly together. I think we had a really good time — but you’d have to check with Lars. [Smiles]
Can you name any directors who are similar to von Trier?
No, I think he is incredibly unique — his courage and sensitivity and bravery to explore the female condition and allow that to be central to his work is amazing. I don’t think there is anyone you can compare him to, with the exception perhaps of Woody Allen, whose career has also been so prolific. Woody Allen has also been very central in his own work. Woody Allen has also written some of the great full-bodied female characters that you remember. If you think for a minute about how many movies you’ve seen, there are not that many bountiful roles for women.
What’s next for you?
I think I’m almost settled on doing a film, which should be starting soon, but it’s not quite set yet. It’s in the press* so you can see anyway, but I don’t think it’s 100 percent secure yet so I don’t want to really talk about it. But you can google it, though, because it’s been written up in Variety or something.
*Thurman was referring to “American Ultra”
Watch a clip of Thurman’s scene as Mrs. H in “Nymphomaniac: Vo. I”:
Watch the movie trailer: