In October of 2017, director Quentin Tarantino spoke out about his longtime collaborator Harvey Weinstein and the mounting accusations of sexual assault against him, telling the New York Times, “I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”
If you were being generous, you could chalk this up to refreshing honesty from one of America’s most beloved auteurs, but—as Uma Thurman recently told the Times—you’d be mistaken to do so. In a recent Maureen Dowd op-ed, Thurman describes Tarantino as a volatile manipulator who not only ignored Weinstein’s behavior, but also sided against her following her own assault at Weinstein’s hands. Things turned, she said, on the set of the Kill Bill movies during a scene in which Tarantino demanded she do her own stunts.
She says she insisted that she didn’t feel comfortable operating the car and would prefer a stunt person to do it. Producers say they do not recall her objecting.
“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 deathbox that I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.” (Tarantino did not respond to requests for comment.)
The car crashed into a tree with Thurman behind the wheel. Upon requesting the footage of the crash from Tarantino and Miramax (Weinstein’s company), she was informed that the only way she could have it is if she agreed not to sue. (You can see the video in the Times article.)
Harvey assaulted me but that didn’t kill me. What really got me about the crash was that it was a cheap shot. I had been through so many rings of fire by that point. I had really always felt a connection to the greater good in my work with Quentin and most of what I allowed to happen to me and what I participated in was kind of like a horrible mud wrestle with a very angry brother. But at least I had some say, you know?
That Tarantino’s apologia is disingenuous in the era of #MeToo could come as a surprise if you’re unfamiliar with the director’s love of depicting women having the shit kicked out of them on camera or if you’re unfamiliar with interviews he’s done in the past. Like, for example, this 2003 Howard Stern interview submitted to us by a reader in which he adamantly defends Roman Polanski’s sexual assault of a 13-year-old in 1977.
Asked by Stern why Hollywood embraces “this mad man, this director who raped a 13-year-old,” Tarantino replied:
“He didn’t rape a 13-year-old. It was statutory rape...he had sex with a minor. That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down—it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world. You can’t throw the word rape around. It’s like throwing the word ‘racist’ around. It doesn’t apply to everything people use it for.”
Reminded by Robin Quivers that Polanski’s victim—who had been plied with quaaludes and alcohol before her assault—did not want to have sex with Polanski, Tarantino became riled up.
Tarantino: No, that was not the case AT ALL. She wanted to have it and dated the guy and—
Quivers: She was 13!
Tarantino: And by the way, we’re talking about America’s morals, not talking about the morals in Europe and everything.
Stern: Wait a minute. If you have sex with a 13-year-old girl and you’re a grown man, you know that that’s wrong.
Quivers: ...giving her booze and pills...
Tarantino: Look, she was down with this.
What do you know: A Weinstein apologist who pushes his actors into unsafe situations and loves casually using the n-word is also an asshole with dangerous opinions.
Updated on February 8, 2018: In a statement to IndieWire, Tarantino has issued an apology to Samantha Geimer, Polanski’s victim, saying:
I want to publicly apologize to Samantha Geimer for my cavalier remarks on “The Howard Stern Show” speculating about her and the crime that was committed against her. Fifteen years later, I realize how wrong I was. Ms. Geimer WAS raped by Roman Polanski. When Howard brought up Polanski, I incorrectly played devil’s advocate in the debate for the sake of being provocative. I didn’t take Ms. Geimer’s feelings into consideration and for that I am truly sorry.
So, Ms. Geimer, I was ignorant, and insensitive, and above all, incorrect.
I am sorry Samantha.