Tarantino muse continues making hits

'Kill Bill' sequel tops box office

— Uma Thurman is one bride who wears red -- from other people's blood.

Her character The Bride in Quentin Tarantino's ruthless revenge fantasy "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" and the new "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" began when the two worked together 10 years ago on "Pulp Fiction" and began making up stories about a woman, marked for death on her wedding day, who goes on a gruesome killing spree.

"Kill Bill: Vol. 2" debuted at the weekend box office with $25.6 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It slayed the competition -- namely the No. 2 debut of "The Punisher," at $14 million, and the Nia Vardalos comedy "Connie and Carla," which opened well out of the top 10 with $3.26 million.

Thurman is Tarantino's crimson-soaked muse.

"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 ..."

Thurman said their conversations would run hours. "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."

Thurman, he said, would play a sexy assassin who wants out of the business. Her boss and lover, Bill, would slay her groom and entire wedding party and leave her for dead. Resurrected years later, she would embark on a mission of revenge to kill you-know-who (David Carradine) and his squad of hired murderers (Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox and Michael Madsen).

But like the character, the story of "Kill Bill" and The Bride would remain comatose for years. After "Pulp Fiction," Thurman and Tarantino crossed paths less and less. They met again at a Miramax Oscar party about four years ago, and Thurman inquired about the fate of their limb-slicing heroine.

"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."

Tarantino wrote so much that the saga of The Bride became two movies. The first installment came out in November and was praised for its stylish action sequences in which the violence was almost cartoonish (one extended scene was animated).

Sliced-off arms and decapitated necks blasted blood like firehoses as Thurman wielded a mystical sword against a legion of foes. After that, what's left for the second half?

Tarantino tones it down. "The first movie in its own sort of wild way is expressionistic, sensorial action piece that's almost a setup for this movie. It's the source. You see the bride in all of her fierceness and streamlined rage," Thurman said. "The second one is where you really see her origin and her struggle and what she lost."

Tarantino did not make himself available for an interview with The Associated Press to talk about "Kill Bill: Vol. 2."

Thurman said the key to her relationship with the director was contrast.

"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 ..." She finished the sentence with a shrug.

The "Kill Bill" saga has provided Thurman with a career renaissance, restoring her status as a guy-flick vixen after late-1990s flops "Batman & Robin" and "The Avengers."

Although a credit at the end of the "Kill Bill" movies states: "Based on the character of 'The Bride' created by Q & U," the U in that equation shies away from recognition.

She said The Bride's dialogue is a mixture of Tarantino's rat-a-tat-tat speechifying with Thurman's sleepy-sexy delivery. "It's a weird, interesting melding of his and my voice."


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