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Uma Thurman

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After a year of highs and lows, Uma Thurman is wrapping up 2003 with a mighty big Paycheck. Call it a reward for an actress who came out kicking and screaming last fall in the Quentin Tarantino bloodbath Kill Bill: Vol. 1 – and for a mother of two who saw her marriage (to Ethan Hawke) fall apart in the tabloids. Her new futuristic sci-fi thriller, directed by John Woo and costarring Ben Affleck as a confused engineer chasing his memory, puts Thurman back in what she calls the “girl” role. That is, she’s having fun in a part that doesn’t involve wielding a sword or being covered in gore – and she gets to kiss the boy.

Thurman recently chatted with reporters about making Paycheck, working with a heartthrob and seeing into the future. Oh, and watch out, she has a slap kick to brag about.

You’ve labeled Paycheck your ‘fun’ movie after filming the physically intense Kill Bill. What made it so enjoyable?
I got to play the girl. I had a really nice time. Ben (Affleck) did all of the heavy lifting. I got to watch John Woo work, Ben hit people. I wasn’t covered in blood.

How was it going into action mode this time around?
I play a biologist and I’m a girl – and the few things that I do in the action (scenes) are very street, very self-defense. None of the stunt people knew what I’d just been through (training for Kill Bill), but I bragged slightly. I was like, “Would you like a slap kick or should I do a stop point?” I kind of had the stunt lingo and could deal with pretty much anything that they wanted to throw me.

What about Ben Affleck? Did you know each other before filming Paycheck?
I had met Ben before. I actually sat with him one night with a group of actors and friends on election night, last election. I was totally struck then by his humor and his intelligence, and we’re both from Massachusetts and he really just reminded me of the kind of people that I went to high school with. He just seemed very easy, and familiar, and fun, and gracious, and like someone from home. Totally comfortable.

Even with all the screaming fans?
He’s a heartthrob and he takes it with a tremendous amount of humor. His female demographic is high, and there by the grace of God go we. Like, good for him. He has such a nice attitude about it and is very gracious with people from the crew, to me, to the screaming teenagers full of joy across the street. He’s a good example. He’s done well, he really has.

And how about you? You already have your own screaming fans, but what do you see for the future?
I mean, everyone always tries to look into the future of their career. We do struggle to want to bring you a good movie. So, you look at the script, you look at the director, you look at yourself, you’ll look at anything and read any tea leaf to try and find a way to deliver and make your efforts not be in vain.

If you knew the future, would you change it?
The temptation, of course, is to think yes. But really, the way that I look at it is the situations that worked out well deliver you one thing, and the situations that didn’t taught you something really crucial. You can’t really unstring your life and just take the good moments, because then, you wouldn’t be who you are. You’d be less much rich.