At fifteen, she was spotted by two New York talent scouts in a production of "The Crucible" and they offered her a chance to audition in New York. She took the opportunity presented to her, left school, and moved to New York City to become an actress. Touching down in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, Uma supported herself by washing dishes and by modeling. Luckily, she didn't have to work at it long: at sixteen, she landed her first leading assignment-as a young vamp who seduces men to rob them-in the low-budget thriller Kiss Daddy Goodnight (1987).
Inglorious as this debut may have been, Uma managed to garner the only favorable notice granted the inconsequential film. She slogged her way through her next project, the teen comedy Johnny Be Good (1988), and was subsequently rewarded with a more high profile role as the goddess Venus in Terry Gilliam's spectacular The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). At seventeen, she performed as a convent-sheltered naïf seduced out of her corset by John Malkovich's reptilian Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons (1988). In 1990 she starred in John Boorman's Where the Heart Is. It was her next film, the art-house Henry and June (1990), that was to cause yet another stir. Given a rich role Uma didn't hold back one bit. Her stunning performance was heralded by critics and set her up as a major acting talent, much more than just another pretty face. This success was followed by an appearance as Maid Marian in John Irvin's version of Robin Hood (1991).
It was during this time that Uma was swept off her feet by the gifted British actor Gary Oldman, who was renowned for his hard partying. They married in September of 1990, but the rocky relationship didn't last long and they split the following year amid rumors of his excessive drinking. Uma continued to act in the early 1990’s, but at age 22 Uma reached a crossroads in her career. Jaded by the trials of the film industry and recovering from personal problems she decided to take a break from acting.
It seemed however that the acting bug was firmly cemented inside her and a refreshed Uma was enticed back to star in Gus Van Sant’s Even Cowgirls get the Blues (1994). The exceedingly offbeat movie was panned by dumbfounded critics, and was hardly the successful return Uma was looking for. But Uma's career was to take a huge boost when young upstart director Quentin Tarantino convinced her to play Mia Wallace in his crime classic Pulp Fiction (1994). Pulp Fiction was a commercial and critical hit. It remains one of the best films of the decade, and totally rejuvenated Uma's career (not to mention John Travolta's and Bruce Willis's). Unlike her costars who cashed in on the success of Pulp Fiction with Hollywood blockbusters, Uma by her self admitted "contrary" nature, chose to follow up "Pulp" with two very modest projects. The period drama, Month by the Lake (1995) and the romantic comedy The Truth about. In 1997 Uma landed the highly sought after role of villainess Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin. Next up for Uma was Gattaca (1997) in which she starred with her future husband Ethan Hawke. The following year Uma returned to her period drama roots to star opposite Liam Neeson in the big screen adaptation of Les Miserables (1998). Despite both Gattaca and Les Miserables wining positive reviews, they resumed the trend of disappointing box-office performances for Uma's films. But the real disppointment came after her appearance as Emma Peel in the misguided remake of sixties spy show The Avengers (1998). The big-budget film was initially billed as a blockbuster, but no one seemed to tell the filmmakers this, they produced a movie far too offbeat for mainstream audiences and it bombed.
While Uma’s career seemed to be taking a series of blows her personal life was only getting better, the relationship she had commenced with Ethan Hawke in 1996 was sealed with marriage in May 1998 and the pair welcomed a daughter, Maya, in July of that year. After the year she took off with her pregnancy, Uma has shown renewed vigor in her acting.
In early 1999 she gave an acclaimed performance opposite Roger Rees in
a New York stage production of The Misanthrope. She followed that up with
an appearance in the Woody Allen film Sweet and Lowdown. She has recently
also been in Vatel (2000), The Golden Bowl (2000), Tape (2001), and Chelsea
Walls (2001). Coming up she will play Debby Miller in the movie Hysterical
Blindness (2002). And the long-awaited re-teaming with Pulp Fiction director
Quentin Tarrentino in Kill Bill (2003).
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