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Uma Thurman Strikes Back

The last time Uma Thurman teamed up with writer/director Quentin Tarantino, she danced her way to an Academy Award nomination for playing the drug-addicted wife of a mob boss in "Pulp Fiction."

Thurman's back on the big screen as a wronged woman out for the ultimate revenge in Tarantino's latest film "Kill Bill, Vol. 1."

A woman out for revenge is the character Tarantino said he wanted her to play 10 years ago while working in "Pulp Fiction." Thurman says, "At that time, the...idea of the movie started with him and then he wrote eight wonderful pages of the opening, which is still in the movie pretty much. And those eight pages went in the drawer."

Asked what it is like to be someone's muse, Thurman tells The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen, "I feel so privileged that I got to see somebody like him in his creative process, how he came up with the script, the things he drew on to be included in that and get to witness it was really extraordinary."

In the movie, Thurman plays Black Mamba. On her wedding day, a group she used to work with kills her groom and the entire wedding party and leaves her for dead.

Thurman explains, "The character does get basically annihilated at the get-go and somehow continues to persevere and reemerges with really only one thing on her mind, which is to avenge the crime of the loss of her child and to take these people back to hell with her, pretty much."

For her role, she had to learn two types of martial arts, two types of sword fighting and two types of knife fighting. "It was intense and you take some hits," Thurman says pointing at a clip from the film in which she describes her character as "battling a 17-year-old mace-wielding maniac. She was fantastic. Her character's name is Go-Go. That was actually quite dangerous because she was really good at twirling it and she was really good at what she was trained to do, which is sort of throw it at me. But as soon as that was done, she wasn't good at stopping it, so that ball would fly out. I got hit in the head by that ball several times."

No worries; the ball that hit her in the face was made out of foam and not metal. She notes, "I wouldn't have a career anymore if I was hit by the real one, I guess."

She also had to learn Japanese. Thurman says, "I did my best. That was the first thing I started was way before shooting, I would sit down with the Japanese tutor and like try to pick up Japanese and get used to speaking in the language."

Thurman has been out promoting the movie for a while, and the questions have not only been about her character, but her personal life, particularly her marital problems with Ethan Hawk, which Thurman says, "It's been incredibly hard and it's very difficult." So how is she handling it? "I'm a big girl," she says, "I take my hard times like any other woman and I have two small children and, really, I'm more concerned for them than I am for either of us. That's the most important thing and we share that concern and I think that helps us."

To her fans she says, "I'm doing okay. I'm doing okay."

"Kill Bill, Vol. 1" opens Friday, "Vol. 2" comes out in February. Asked how she explains the genre of the film, "Quentin," Thurman says, "He's a totally unique and amazing, innovative filmmaker and I guess there's Quentin movies."

Some Facts About Uma Thurman

  • Uma Karuna Thurman was born in Boston, Mass., on April 29, 1970
  • The daughter of a Columbia University professor and a model-turned-psychotherapist, she is named after a Hindu goddess
  • She began her career as a Click model
  • Thurman began acting in 1987 with the independent feature "Kiss Daddy Good Night"
  • In 1988, she received wide attention as the virginal victim of John Malkovich's seduction in "Dangerous Liaisons"
  • In 1994, Thurman first teamed with Quentin Tarantino in "Pulp Fiction"
  • In 1997, Thurman co-starred with Ethan Hawke in "Gattaca"
  • In 2002, she received positive reviews for her role in the HBO film "Hysterical Blindness"
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