April 14, 2004 03:45 PM

Back as the The Bride in Kill Bill, Vol. 2, Uma Thurman, 33, has turned into a butt-kicking cultural icon – fans are even using the sword-wielding actress’s name as a verb, threatening to “go Uma” on anyone who wrongs them.

The star herself is ready to defend her character to naysayers who call the portrayal anti-feminist. Thurman – known for being director Quentin Tarantino’s muse – recently chatted with reporters about continuing such a violent role, fulfilling the movie’s titular mission and letting Tarantino get his jollies.

What have women said to you about your Kill Bill role?
Gosh, I don’t know. I know that some high school girls were referring to defending themselves by saying that they were going to do an “Uma” on that person or they were going to go “Uma” on them, and I thought that that was really funny.

How do you see your character? What do you think of some people’s reaction that it’s a woman abused for entertainment?
I’m not going to buy into that. I mean, the scope of the journey that the character goes through is something that you wouldn’t blink twice at if you saw Mad Max or Clint Eastwood. For people to find that to be anti-feminist is interesting to me, because for as many people who find it upsetting, there are many more who find it exciting and inspiring.

But being an assassin, does your character get any sympathy from you?
When I first read the script I wasn’t really convinced that I really wanted to just kill Bill. I think that it was dramatically complicated by the presence of the child. Ultimately, I found that there was room for ambivalence, there was room for heartbreak, there was room for revenge. … It was not at all ‘Ha, Bill’s dead. Ha!’ Although, I said that in my trailer afterward because once Bill was dead, I was close to home (Laughs).

What was it like shooting a fight scene with Daryl Hannah?
It was pretty funny. I mean, it was pretty explosive sometimes too. Daryl is very nice to work with, and this is so absurd, two skinny blonde girls, one covered in garbage and the other one all decked out with an eye patch, beating each other up inside of a trailer.

And what’s with all the foot shots in the movie? Is Tarantino obsessed with your feet?
Well, no. I don’t think that it’s me in particular. He’s widely accused of having a foot fetish, and in fact, many people commented during shooting that he could have released an entire version of this story solely on the foot shots.

Filming was delayed a year because you were pregnant with Roan, right?
Theoretically. When I was pregnant, the script wasn’t done and frankly, a little more pre-production probably wouldn’t have hurt us, I mean, just for the scope of the work and shooting a film in so many different countries.

Did you look to any past performances for inspiration?
Pam Grier (in 1973’s Coffy) and Gena Rowlands (in 1980’s Gloria) are two of the only women that I’ve ever seen on film holding a gun and really being women. So, those two, and all the Bond women.

Then, on the other side of it … Mel Gibson’s Mad Max because there’s a great warrior character who’s primarily silent, as well as Clint Eastwood in the Sergio Leone movies. There he is and he says nothing. He comes back and his character is entirely in his eyes.

Can you give us any tips on how to survive being buried alive?
Well, the key thing is don’t let it happen to you.

We understand that in addition to kicking butt you have another on-set skill: knitting. How many pieces can you turn out per shoot?
Ah, it depends on how much time I have. I will say, I’m getting quicker.

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