Here's why people think "Death Proof" was inspired by Uma Thurman's car crash on Tarantino's set
For Quentin Tarantino’s film Death Proof, it seems like art imitated real life. The 2007 grind-house film was about a man who hunts down attractive women and murders them by making them ride in his “Death Proof” car (it’s only death proof if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat). What does this have to do with Uma Thurman? In an interview with the New York Times, Thurman talks about Harvey Weinstein and about her time on the set of Kill Bill.
In the famous scene where she’s driving the blue convertible to kill Bill, she was asked to do the driving herself. She had heard that the car had been reconfigured from stick to automatic and the car might not function properly. She obviously felt uncomfortable and wanted a stunt double to do it. The New York Times notes, “Tarantino aficionados spy an echo of Thurman’s crash in his 2007 movie, Death Proof.”
“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.”
The video shows the horrible crash. And how the car was definitely not safe for Uma Thurman (or anyone) to drive.
Tarantino finally gave her the footage of the accident after 15 years, showing how dangerous the car really was. Miramax initially didn’t want to hand over the footage — weeks after Uma crashed, her lawyer sent a letter to Miramax, saying she could sue.
According to The New York Times, Miramax would only give her the footage if she signed a legal document saying that the production and distribution company would be let off the hook for paying for any physical damage, “future pain and suffering.” Uma told The New York Times that her neck and knees are permanently injured.
Watch the trailer for Death Proof here. It will make you feel uncomfortable by how much Uma’s crash possibly inspired this film, which is purely about violence against women.
Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 came out in 2003 and 2004, years before Death Proof. Both films were produced by Harvey Weinstein. Another eerie detail is that Death Proof stars Zoë Bell, who was Thurman’s actual stunt double in Kill Bill.
This is unfortunately another story of how violent misogyny almost killed (and kills) women. Sexual assault is obviously something that needs to be combated in Hollywood and everywhere else. But there are also so many power dynamics at play that make women risk their lives in order to please men, keep their job, or try to feel safe. To know that Tarantino created a film with the sole premise is that women, who are treated like prey, are killed by a man’s vehicle, is incredibly disturbing.