Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Uma's Birthday

Today is actress Uma Thurman's 39th birthday, and I have a few thoughts to share.

Modern movie audiences probably recognize Thurman from her roles in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films and cult favorite "Pulp Fiction."

But I first saw her when she was breaking into movies in the late 1980s. The first time I saw her was as Venus/Rose in "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen." It was a modest role, compared to the lead roles she has had in most of her films, but she was only 18 and still new in the business.

Her role was inspired by the famous Botticelli painting, "The Birth of Venus," which can be seen below:

That same year, I saw Thurman in another supporting role in "Dangerous Liaisons," co–starring with John Malkovich, who made his movie debut only four years earlier with an Oscar–nominated performance in 1984's "Places in the Heart."

"Dangerous Liaisons" really launched Thurman's career, paving the way for her appearances in "Henry & June," which was the first film to be rated NC–17, "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," "Mad Dog and Glory" and, of course, the "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill" films.

But Thurman may have been a bit overshadowed in "Dangerous Liaisons" by her co–stars — besides Malkovich, the cast included Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer and, in her final role, Mildred Natwick.

Over the years, Thurman hasn't always received rave reviews for her performances, but I attribute that more to the weakness of the material or the shortcomings of the director. For more than 20 years, I have regarded Thurman as one of the shining stars of the movie industry, and I think there are many great performances in her future.