What the Hell Happened to Uma Thurman?

Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman has been a Batman villain, Robin Hood’s girlfriend, an Avenger (the English kind) and Quentin Tarantino’s muse.  She’s worked with Robert DeNiro, Bill Murray, John Travolta and George Clooney.  But these days, she’s shifted gears into supporting roles.  What the hell happened?

Thurman starred her career as a model at the age of 15.

thurman - modeling

Uma Thurman – Modeling career

In 1985, Thurman appeared in Glamour, a Vogue supplement and the cover of British Vogue.  Her modeling work lead to acting opportunities.  In 1988, Thurman appeared in four movies.

thurman - kiss daddy goodnight

Uma Thurman – Kiss Daddy Goodnight – 1987

Thurman’s first acting role was in the no-budget thriller, Kiss Daddy Goodnight.  Thurman played a model who picks up older men so she can drug them and rob them.  Steve Buscemi also appears in a small role.

thurman - johnny be good

Uma Thurman – Johnny Be Good – 1988

Thurman’s first mainstream movie was Johnny Be Good which co-starred Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey, Jr.

Hall was desperately trying to escape his image as the brat pack nerd.  He played a star high school quarterback and Downey played his best bud.  A couple of years earlier, Downey had tormented Hall in Weird Science.  It’s funny to remember when Iron Man played second banana to Rusty Griswold.

Johnny Be Good got bad reviews and currently holds a 0% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.  It flopped at the box office dooming Hall to the fate suffered by most of the Brat Pack.  Thurman and Downey were more fortunate.

thurman - baron 1

Uma Thurman – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – 1988

Later that year, Thurman had a small but eye-catching role in Terry Gilliam’s mad fantasy, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was a famously troubled movie.  Like most Gilliam movies, the flights of fancy put the film over budget.  A regime change at the studio meant that its US distributors weren’t especially excited about promoting Munchausen.  So they dumped it in relatively few theaters with little fanfare.

thurman - baron 2

Uma Thurman – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – 1988

Thurman played the goddess Venus who emerged naked from a clam shell.  In her limited screen time, Thurman created one of the more memorably images in a film full of visual splendor.

Although Baron Munchausen flopped in the US, it fared better overseas.  Reviews were mostly positive and the film has developed a cult following.

Next: Dangerous Liaisons and Henry and June


Posted on March 29, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 160 Comments.


    Uma Thurman and Janeane Garofalo starred in The Truth About Cats And Dogs, a 90s movie that deserves more love…


  2. 11 Actors Who Survived Career Suicide Twice

    Uma Thurman

    Uma Thurman will forever have a place in the hearts of filmgoers because of Pulp Fiction, but she has a bad habit of signing on for crap following a triumph. She put the brakes on a potentially huge career after Pulp thanks to the one-two punch of Batman & Robin and The Avengers; they were awful, and sadly she was awful in them.

    She went through a dry spell in her career following this, but when Tarantino came along with Kill Bill she looked set to come back in a huge way; yet for some inexplicable reason she followed them up with muck like Paycheck and My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

    Again it looked like she’d squandered her chance, but in recent years she’s been doing excellent work in character roles like Nymphomaniac and The Slap, and Tarantino will no doubt call on her services again sometime soon.


  3. 15 Actors Stuck In Hollywood’s Dog House

    Uma Thurman

    Sexy, talented and kick-ass, Uma Thurman has/had everything but recently she has been limited to roles that even Jennifer Aniston might have thought twice about. In the 1990’s performances in Pulp Fiction and Gattaca positioned her as one of Hollywood’s leading lights, but roles as Poison Ivy in franchise killer Batman & Robin, and the financial disaster that was the remake of British television series The Avengers effectively turned that light off.

    After a hiatus following the birth of first child, Thurman returned with the Kill Bill volumes that saw her threaten those heady heights once again but little else since has shown any promise. A victim of the Movie 43 curse (it’s hard to have sympathy), Thurman has done nothing to trouble the box office in the last few years.

    So What Next?

    Who else thinks Thurman is probably casting envious glances over at Jennifer Jason Leigh? More than anything else she needs a call from her close pal Quentin and another plum role to show off her talents. With Kill Bill 3 repeatedly rumored, that redemption might be closer than ever.



    Paul Gleason is hilarious in this movie, he really is. As a coaching counterpart to the assistant principal in The Breakfast Club (1985), he provides the only beacon of light in Johnny Be Good, an otherwise ridiculous ’80s comedy. To put things in perspective, Anthony Michael Hall, who so convincingly played the nerd a few years prior, was now presented as the big man on campus, snagging ladies and football scholarships with ease. Um…no? The jump just doesn’t work here, and a script built around a running joke only furthers the lack of laughs scattered over this eternal 90 minutes.

    Uma Thurman pops up as youthful eye candy, but it’s RDJ’s appearance that really pushes this thing into WTF territory. Playing Hall’s best pal and the closest thing ever to a human Looney Toon, his off-the-wall ramblings are downright confusing opposite the jock’s gawky machismo. And that’s just the first half; things go down quicker than an Olympic diver on the latter part of the picture, no doubt aided by Downey’s motor-mouthed madness. It’s a move no one ever talks about anymore, and if ever graced with it’s presence, you’ll understand why.


  5. 10 Actors Who Need a Redemption Movie ASAP

    Uma Thurman

    Uma Thurman could be resumed in three words: “Quentin Tarantino Muse”. Back in the 90’s, her face was in every bedroom wall, and in the early 2000’s she brought back the yellow tracksuit into fashion, all that thanks to QT two masterpieces: Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol.2.

    But to do her justice, she is a skilled and accomplished actress who can do well in James Ivory (The Golden Cirle) and John Woo (Paycheck) universes… She can be as praised and acclaimed as in Gattaca or lose big like in Batman & Robin or the Avengers (No, not the one with Shawarma , the other one).

    After changing our lives being Beatrix Kiddo, she strangely opted for a different type of movies: Rom-Com and familiar dramas. What came next was a wreck; we had An Extraordinary Husband, Life Before Her Eyes, Motherhood, Prime, My Super Ex-Girlfriend…. Instead of becoming the Sigourney Weaver type of actresses, she went to be the one producers call when Sarah Jessica Parker is busy.

    How can she rise again: Those last years, Hollywood is fond of strong badass women avatars like Furiosa , Ilsa Fauslt or Gina Carano/Ronda Rousey flicks. Like Zellweger with comedies, Uma Thurman could convert again into the action/sci-fi genres.

    Add to that, no one is against seeing her teaming against with Quentin Tarantino, after all, she is his muse.


  6. Uma Thurman joins Bravo drama “My So-Called Life”

    Uma Thurman Joins Cast of Bravo’s Scripted Drama ‘My So Called Wife’
    by Elizabeth Wagmeister

    Uma Thurman has joined the cast of Bravo’s upcoming scripted series “My So Called Wife,” Variety has learned.

    The Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee will appear as a guest star in a story arc that spans several episodes.

    “My So Called Wife,” which was greenlit this March, follows a con artist, played by Inbar Lavi, who is as beautiful as she is dangerous, which makes her unsuspecting victims even more tormented when they realize they have been used and robbed of everything, including their hearts.

    But things get complicated when her latest victims, Ezra (Rob Heaps) and Richard (Parker Young) try to track her down just as she eyes her next mark, Patrick (Stephen Bishop).

    Thurman will play Lenny Cohen, the ultimate fixer.

    When the reclusive ring-leader of a group of con artists needs to keep his employees in line, eliminate an enemy or whip up a world class omelette, there is only one person for the job — the lethal, articulate and mysterious Lenny Cohen.


  7. There’s an interesting theory about her brief marriage to Gary Oldman. I read this, IIRC, on google groups (interesting site btw, you can see forum discussions going back to the early 90s). The buzz in Hollywood was that he was about to become a big star and she wanted to be associated with him before that happened. Similar, to a lesser extent, to what people suspected was Demi Moore’s motive for marrying Bruce Willis. Except Oldman didn’t get the stardom as predicted so she left him in the dust as soon as she realized his career wasn’t going anywhere.


  8. Its funny uma was a big star yet aside from the Quienten movies and a bit part in dangerous liaisons none of her films where hits. People must talked aobut her looks more cause no one saw her flicks


    • Rows of flops next to the milestones in her filmography prove she isn’t a box office draw. But she is a household name. Pulp Fiction and even Batman & Robin are staples of the ’90s. The Kill Bill movies were staples of the ’00s.

      She also comes off as very personable and is charming in every role. It always bugs me when people refer to her as “exotic” or “unconventional looking.” In the photoshoot scene in The Truth About Cats & Dogs, she was perfect.

      That photo of her at the top of the page doesn’t do her justice. I wonder whether it’s incidental or was chosen to make a point. On a few of these “What the hell happened to…” entries, the ostensibly “recent” picture is from nearly ten years ago where the subject of the entry still appears to be looking fabulous.


      • That picture was current the last time I did an update. I’ll swap it out next time. When I select the picture, I try to find one that is current, not staged for a magazine shoot, not unflattering but not overly glamorous. I’m never actively trying to make the subject look bad. At least not with the picture at the top of the article.


  9. Uma’s mom Nena Thurman used to be a big time model. Her first husband was LSD guru Timothy Leary. They divorced and she has been married to Uma’s dad for 50 years.


  10. Uma Thurman’s Baby Daddy Forcing Her to Choose Movie or the Kid

    Uma Thurman is stuck between a rock and a hard place … if she shoots a movie she won’t see her daughter. That’s the predicament she’s in, thanks to her baby daddy.

    Uma’s ex-fiance, Arpad Busson, just filed legal docs asking a judge to prohibit her from taking their 4-year-old daughter to Europe while she shoots a movie … sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ.

    We’re told Uma has been blindsided by the latest conflict … she’s supposed to leave in 2 days.

    Arpad wants the kid to stay put in NYC, so now a judge will decide … possibly creating a real-life “Sophie’s Choice” for Uma.

    TMZ broke the story … Uma and Arpad’s nasty custody battle heads to court in a few months to hash out visitation rights.

    A rep for Uma tells us … they’ll let the lawyers and judge handle it.


    • I wonder if she met Arpad when she was doing Batman & Robin. Elle Macpherson who had a small role in the movie was dating him at the time.

      Her personal life is kind of a mess but I love how she’s so dignified and weathers scandals with such grace. She never courts controversy unlike so many.


  11. Nena von Schlebrügge (a.k.a. Uma Thurman’s mother) circa November 1961


  12. Why Uma Thurman Doesn’t Get Many Movie Offers Anymore

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


  13. Blind Items Revealed #4

    November 4, 2016

    This very tall B+ list mostly movie actress who has been working for decades is hooking up with the married head of a foreign conglomerate. He has been sending a lot of very highly paid work her way.

    Uma Thurman


  14. Uma Thurman’s Custody Battle Got Uglier

    Actress and Quentin Tarantino fetish object Uma Thurman is currently locked in a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend Arpad (Arki) Busson over their four-year-old daughter, Luna.
    Last week, Arki accused Uma of mixing pills and booze while she accused him of letting Luna ride a scooter without a helmet (um…). Uma finally got her hands on some alleged real dirt this week. We’ve got hookers, the threatening of ex-girlfriends, and cheating on high school tests! True, one of those accusations is a little frivolous compared to the other two, but, you have to throw everything at the reputation wall and see what sticks!


  15. Blind Items Revealed #3

    November 30, 2016

    This aging, very tall B+ list mostly movie actress has now gone up three breast sizes in the past two years. She is convinced it is getting her more work after having trouble in the year prior to her first surgery.

    Uma Thurman


  16. Uma’s dad says the industry doesn’t take proper advatage of her.


  17. Uma Thurman says turning down Lord of the Rings was one of her worst decisions

    Uma Thurman really, really regrets turning down the role of Éowyn in the Lord of the Rings franchise.

    “I do consider it one of the worst decisions I ever made,” the actress said while speaking with Lord of the Rings super fan Stephen Colbert on The Late Show Monday night. “But I had just had my first child, and I just, I don’t know, I was a little house bound.”

    “I think it was a little bit, little unknown for me,” she added of uprooting her family to move to New Zealand for the movie’s long filming process. “But it was definitely a regret.”

    This isn’t the first time that Thurman has said she hated that she missed out on the role. In an interview with DigitalSpy in 2008, she said that she wished she “could’ve been able to take that plunge,” but that she couldn’t with her young daughter. The Thin Red Line star Miranda Otto ended up taking on the part.

    It is likely that if Thurman had taken on the role of Éowyn she would have missed out on her most famous role as The Bride in the Kill Bill films, which definitely would have been a shame. However, it would have been interesting to see the actress’ take on the famous Tolkein character.

    Thurman isn’t the only actor to turn down a part in the Lord of the Rings series: read up on all of the actors who could have been a part of the famous fantasy franchise.


  18. WTF happened to Uma Thurman’s career?

    She’s now relegated to a guest star on the show Imposters?

    —Anonymous (622 views)

    37 replies 35 19 hours ago

    She was always overrated and over-exposed.


    reply 1 19 hours ago

    She was never a good actress. She had an OK face with an extraordinary body. She was also blonde. That will take you very far in Hollywood. Now she’s aged horribly and her looks can’t hide her lack of talent anymore. And then there is the rumored drug use.


    reply 2 19 hours ago

    She could be a very good actress. She was great in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues but it was a difficult novel to film, and failed despite many hilarious sequences.

    She just disappeared for too long and then it was too late.


    reply 4 19 hours ago

    She was a guest star on Smash. There’s no coming back from that.


    reply 6 19 hours ago

    Mental illness. It was an issue during her recent divorce and child custody battle.


    reply 8 18 hours ago

    I did that awful movie where I played the Jewish therapist with her. So awful. I didn’t even get a Globe nomination for that one. How humiliating. I even got Globe nods for She-Devil and Death Becomes Her. You have to be really bad to not even be globe nominated.


    reply 10 18 hours ago

    What really puzzles me is that she’s on a Bravo (scripted drama) show. I mean HBO, sure. But Bravo, really?


    reply 13 15 hours ago

    It was supposed to be private and her lawyers were outraged.

    She has low affect. She’s not “mentally ill” she drinks and takes (or took) antidepressants and adderall. Big wup. Her problem is she is lazy and luxury dependent. Rather like Vanessa Paradis. She’s been in the euro-trash jet set crowd for decades. Truly many ladies who do nothing much. Arpad Busson is a chic slime-ball. Pursued this trophy for years after being Elle Macpherson’s sugar daddy and baby daddy. Truly baroque soap operatic family history for both parties. Read the first paragraph in his wiki article to get a gander.

    In short, their kid was born f***ed for life.


    reply 14 13 hours ago

    Aspie Tarantino got tired of her for his pop up MTV videos he calls films. Her wide spaced eyes just don’t do it for us.


    reply 15 12 hours ago

    All her men leave her. She must be difficult to be with. Ethan Hawke, Gary Oldman, Timothy Hutton and many others have sampled her then moved on.


    reply 20 11 hours ago

    She had cosmetic surgery and it changed her looks, not for the better. She was supposed to do a television movie about the life of Anita Bryant. What ever became of it?


    reply 24 10 hours ago

    What happened to her career is that it went much further and lasted much longer than it had any reason to.


    reply 27 10 hours ago

    She aged. She took time off to have kids and be a mom. There aren’t a lot of parts for women over 40. Those parts tend to go to the women who’ve been working steadily, keeping their names and faces relevant. You’ve got to keep hustling.

    I wouldn’t pay much attention her exes allegations, the court ruled in her favor.


    reply 30 9 hours ago


    • 14 Actors Who Desperately Need A Hit Movie

      Uma Thurman

      Another Tarantino alum who can’t seem to catch a break, Uma Thurman’s career has cooled down significantly in recent years, generally taking small supporting roles in movies that either bombed or didn’t get a major theatrical release.

      Thurman’s last starring project to be even moderately successful was 2006’s My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and though a few of her movies since have been hits, typically she’s only appeared in them for a few scattered scenes, so she can’t really take much credit.

      As for the future, she does have six movies due for release over the next year, though only upcoming thriller Serenity, co-starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, has any real box office potential.


  19. Uma Thurman Cast in Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built

    Thurman joins Matt Dillon in the upcoming Lars von Trier serial killer film The House That Jack Built


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