Actress Uma Thurman, in long-awaited remarks, accused disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of forcing himself on her sexually years ago in a London hotel room. Weinstein, through his attorney, acknowledged making an "awkward pass" but strongly denied any physical assault and suggested the possibility of legal action over her comments.
In a separate allegation in the same New York Times article on Saturday, Thurman also said "Kill Bill" director Quentin Tarantino during filming coerced her into driving a car that she believed to be faulty, resulting in injuries including a permanently damaged neck, a concussion and damage to her knees. A representative for Tarantino did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Thurman's allegations against Weinstein, who has been accused of rape, assault or other sexual misconduct by scores of women, had been widely anticipated since she hinted late last year that she had a story to tell but wanted to wait until she was less angry. Her story came in an interview with Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
"I used the word 'anger,' but I was more worried about crying, to tell you the truth," Thurman was quoted as saying. "I was not a groundbreaker on a story I knew to be true. So what you really saw was a person buying time."
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Thurman said that an early encounter with Weinstein in a Paris hotel room in the 1990s ended with him suddenly appearing in a bathrobe and leading her to a steam room but that she did not feel threatened. She said that the first "attack" — the word appears in quotes — happened later in London.
"He pushed me down," she said. "He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things. But he didn't actually put his back into it and force me. You're like an animal wriggling away, like a lizard."
Later, she alleged, she arranged a meeting with Weinstein and warned him: "If you do what you did to me to other people you will lose your career, your reputation and your family, I promise you."
The Times article says Thurman's memory of the Weinstein encounter stops there, but it quotes a friend who was waiting downstairs as saying Thurman emerged from an elevator disheveled and shaking.
"Her eyes were crazy, and she was totally out of control," said the friend, Ilona Herman.
When Thurman was able to talk again, Herman said, she revealed that Weinstein, who was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, had threatened to derail her career.
Though the article doesn't make clear how the London hotel room encounter ended, Thurman said: "Harvey assaulted me, but that didn't kill me."
A representative for Thurman, Leslie Sloane, responded to an Associated Press request for more details on all the encounters by saying only: "The article speaks for itself."
Meanwhile, Ben Brafman, Weinstein's attorney, said the producer was "stunned and saddened" by false accusations from Thurman. He emphasized Weinstein and Thurman had worked together for more than two decades.
The lawyer, in a statement, said Weinstein acknowledged making "an awkward pass at Ms. Thurman 25 years ago which he regrets and immediately apologized for." He said it was a mystery why Thurman would wait so long to come forward or "embellish what really happened to include false accusations of attempted physical assault."
He said Thurman's statements to the Times were being "examined and investigated" before Weinstein decides whether any legal action against her would be appropriate.
Thurman, one of the stars of Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," also said that just before shooting began on the director's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1," which came out in 2003, she told him about Weinstein and he confronted the mogul, leading him to apologize.
But she also described a harrowing onset episode on location in Mexico in which Tarantino ignored her expressed fears of driving a car that she had been warned might be faulty.
Tarantino persuaded her to do it, she said, quoting him as saying, "Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won't blow the right way and I'll make you do it again."
Video accompanying the article online — which Thurman says took her 15 years to procure — shows Thurman struggling to control the car, crashing into a tree and then being carried from the car.
"That was a deathbox that I was in," Thurman was quoted as saying.