Working with Quentin Tarantino for the first time on “Pulp Fiction” presented Uma Thurman with several challenges, including one scene where she would have to painstakingly recreate a drug overdose, but nothing was more terrifying for the young actress than dancing opposite John Travolta. In what has become one of Tarantino’s most iconic scenes, Thurman’s Mia Wallace and Travolta’s Vincent Vega get up on stage at the fictional Jack Rabbit Slims restaurant and perform the twist during a dance competition. According to Thurman, it was the scene she dreaded most during the making of “Pulp Fiction.”
“I was more afraid of the dancing than almost anything because it was exactly to my total insecurity,” Thurman said during a keynote speech at France’s Series Mania Festival (via Variety). “Being big and awkward and still quite young then. But once I started dancing I didn’t wanna stop, so it was a dream come true.”
Thurman fell in love with Tarantino’s “juicy dialogue” between scene partners while making “Pulp Fiction.” “It’s like love,” the actress said. There is nothing better than being with the right person.” Thurman made her feature film debut opposite Steve Buscemi in Peter Ily Huemer’s “Kiss Daddy Goodnight,” but she said it was after her third feature, Terry Gilliam’s adventure comedy “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” that she started to feel like a real actress.
“When Gilliam cast me in his movie, albeit in an ingénue role, I think that was the pivot that made me realize it was real, that I would dedicate my life to the dramatic arts and work like an animal until I got good at it,” Thurman said. “Flying to Chichen Itza at 17 and seeing it transformed by his imagination, a true auteur, I realized I wasn’t just cheating out of school, but this was a real art form, and I could be part of it.”
After watching a montage of scenes from her career, including the buried alive sequence from “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” Thurman said, “I think it is always about dancing or fighting for your life. I got 12 shades of PTSD watching that. Those were epic experiences.”
Next up for Thurman is the Netflix horror series “Chambers,” which she stars in and also produces. The show debuts on the streaming platform April 26.