How did Tarantino and Uma Thurman Conceive 'The Bride'

Sometimes brainstorming with your friend leads to your best work. 

This may surprise some of you... but I was a total nerd in high school. I skipped the sophomore dance to go see Kill Bill. I wasn't yet seventeen, so I dragged my Dad with me.

Thanks, Dad.

The Bride was my date that night, and the movie really became a turning point for me when it comes to film appreciation. 

I read everything that had to do with the movie. I watched the movies this movie referenced. 

The Kill Bill series became my favorite Tarantino film(s). For me, they have a lot to say about life, love, revenge, damage, forgiveness, and justice. They also contain one of Tarantino's best characters, The Bride. 

But how did Tarantino develop The Bride? And how did Uma Thurman help? 

Let's watch this awesome video and then chat after the jump. 

How did Tarantino and Uma Thurman Conceive 'The Bride'

When it comes to crafting character development and character arcs, there's no one quite like Tarantino. But I have always found his best work comes from collaboration. First, with Roger Avary in Pulp Fiction and then with Uma Thurman when it came to developing The Bride. 

Thurman told Today“Together, we talked about The Bride forever,” Thurman said. “We were out one night talking and he was telling me about genres and filmmaking, and (the 1973 blaxploitation revenge film) Coffy and different movies...”

It's here I want to dispel the sexist notion of the term "muse". This was two people at the top of their artistic game, collaborating.

Thurman goes on to say, “We got going back and forth and cooked up the character of The Bride together. Like, wouldn’t it be great to play this woman... assassin... wedding chapel massacre... and da da da da dah. Usually, that kind of talk is cheap but not with him. He went and sculpted the seed ideas of the movie.”

When it came to writing, it was a joint effort. 

“Somehow or another he got completely excited about the idea again and went and found the pages and started writing again. He just put it somewhere, on some yellow legal pad, somewhere in his files. I just asked out of interest, in case he lost them. That led to his two years of writing.”

Two years! That's dedication. But look at what it produced. 

But what made their collaboration special? 

“I think we’re really different people actually, but that’s what’s fun about talking to each other. We have very different perspectives. He’s a very extroverted, public person. I’m a very introverted person. We’re just very different characters, but somehow or other...” according to Today, she finished that sentence with a shrug.

A credit at the end of Kill Bill states: “Based on the character of ‘The Bride’ created by Q & U.”

This collaboration birthed the idea, but the story and dialogue came from Tarantino. 

Other cool Kill Bill facts

According to Cinemablend, "Tarantino confirmed Warren Beatty was once sought for the role. Tarantino even wrote Bill with Beatty in mind, though the more intense focus on martial arts training caused Tarantino to rewrite it for the late David Carradine instead. Tarantino also claims Bruce Willis was considered at one point."

The Crazy 88 scene took around two months to shoot, and they had to use exploding condoms filled with blood to achieve some of the blood-spatter scenes. 

Kill Bill Controversy 

Years after the filming of Kill Bill, Uma Thurman came out to talk about the danger on set. Her story was scary and worrisome. It depicted abuse from Tarantino that was expanded in a New York Times piece, saying, “Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director,” she says. “He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: ‘I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road.’” He persuaded her to do it, and instructed: “ ‘Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won’t blow the right way and I’ll make you do it again.’ But that was a death box that I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.” 

The story continues, “The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me,” she says. “I felt this searing pain and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to walk again,’” she says. “When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car and I was very upset. Quentin and I had an enormous fight, and I accused him of trying to kill me. And he was very angry at that, I guess understandably because he didn’t feel he had tried to kill me.”

Ethan Hawke, then Thurman's husband told The New York Times the incident ended this way: “I approached Quentin in very serious terms and told him that he had let Uma down as a director and as a friend,” He said he told Tarantino, “Hey, man, she is a great actress, not a stunt driver, and you know that.” Hawke added that the director “was very upset with himself and asked for my forgiveness.”

In a devastating note, Thurman sums it up this way: “When they turned on me after the accident,” she says, “I went from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool.”

This is a crushing legacy of this movie, but one that maybe has shown signs of reconciliation in recent years. And one that hopefully has imparted serious lessons to Tarantino. 

So where is the story going now? 

In its early inception, Kill Bill was envisioned as one four-hour film. In fact, the four-hour version of Kill Bill was shown at the Cannes Film Festival during its premiere and was subtitled The Whole Bloody Affair. 

But the movie was split into two after Weinstein agreed to release it and the rest is history. We have yet to see that mashed up version in any sort of release. People thought Tarantino may rerelease it that way, but the future holds something very different.  

In a 2019 interview with Andy Cohen, Tarantino floated the idea of Kill Bill Vol 3, saying, “I just had dinner with Uma Thurman last night,” Tarantino told Cohen. “We were at a really cool Japanese restaurant. I do have an idea of what I would do with [‘Kill Bill Vol. 3’]. That was the whole thing, conquering the concept. What has happened to The Bride since then? And what do I want to do?”

Tarantino added, “I didn’t just want to come up with some cockamamie adventure. [The character] doesn’t deserve that. The Bride has fought long and hard. I have an idea now that could be interesting. I still wouldn’t do it for a little bit. It would be at least three years from now. It is definitely in the cards.”

While we have no idea if another movie will happen, it certainly provides an interesting legacy for the Kill Bill saga. 

I hope we get another chapter, but I hope it's one born from the collaboration of two artists, and one done safely and amicably. 

Only time will tell. 

Would you welcome a third Kill Bill movie? 

Let us know in the comments.

Up Next: Exploring the Many Genres Present in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill 

If you take a critical look at films, most of them fit neatly inside a specific genre, like drama, comedy, or horror, or even a couple of complementary genres, known as cross-genres—Dramedy, Horror Comedy, or Weird West. However, if you were to look at Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film Kill Bill: Vol. 1, you'd be hard-pressed to cram that thing inside any kind of genre-specific box.     

Your Comment

2 Comments

I would love to see a Volume 3. Hate there's such a sour note in the legacy, but good to hear there's been some continued reconciliation. I have no doubt the 2 will knock out whatever they churn out.

July 8, 2020 at 9:03PM, Edited July 8, 9:03PM

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Daniel Custard
Editor>Director>Writer
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The character of "the Bride" was partly inspired by an episode of "Highlander the TV series" in season 6 ep5 "Patient 7" of a comatose female immortal Kyra who lost her memory. Similarly both the Bride and Kyra woke up from a coma and killed a male hospital worker who tried to rape.

July 9, 2020 at 12:59AM, Edited July 9, 12:59AM

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Simon Chan
Director of Photography
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