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Lawrence Bender, the veteran producer of the Kill Bill movies, is apologizing to Uma Thurman after the actress came forward with a disturbing allegation of a “cover-up” over an on-set car crash in Mexico during the making of the series. But he also says, “I never hid anything.”
“I deeply regret that Uma suffered the pain she has, both physically and emotionally, for all of these years from the accident that occurred on the set of Kill Bill,” Bender said Wednesday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The safety of the professionals who work on the movies I produce is vital to me and I never want to let anyone down.”
In a Feb. 3 feature by Maureen Dowd, the actress recalled to The New York Times writer that she was asked to do a driving stunt herself for a famous scene for Quentin Tarantino’s revenge killer. “[Tarantino] said: ‘I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road,'” Thurman told Dowd, adding that the director told her, “‘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.”
On Monday, Thurman released a dramatic on-set video showing her driving a convertible and careening into a tree. The actress wrote that Tarantino “was deeply regretful and remains remorseful about this sorry event, and gave me the footage years later so i could expose it and let it see the light of day.” A one-minute, 47-second video that accompanied the Times article online shows Tarantino coming over and appearing to check on the actress after the crash.
A source says Bender had been concerned for weeks about the car incident since Thurman had posted on Nov. 23 a movie still of herself in the vehicle calling out “Harvey [Weinstein], and all your wicked conspirators.” Bender has said privately that he believes there was no wrongdoing and that he had reviewed the incident with key crewmembers to double-check.
Thurman laid the blame for the accident on producer Bender, executive producer E. Bennett Walsh and executive producer Weinstein. “THE COVER UP after the fact is UNFORGIVABLE,” Thurman wrote Monday in her Instagram post. “[F]or this i hold Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh, and the notorious Harvey Weinstein solely responsible. they lied, destroyed evidence, and continue to lie about the permanent harm they caused and then chose to suppress.”
Bender denied the claim of an on-set cover up, saying, “I never hid anything from Uma or anyone else nor did I participate in any cover up of any kind — and I never would.” The Hollywood veteran has been a longtime Tarantino collaborator, including producing 2009’s Inglorious Basterds as well earlier titles like 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, 1994’s Pulp Fiction and 1996’s From Dawn Till Dusk.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1, distributed by Weinstein’s Miramax, was released on Oct. 10, 2003, and went on to earn more than $180 million globally, while Vol. 2 raked in more than $152 million.
Bender’s full statement to THR is below.
I deeply regret that Uma suffered the pain she has, both physically and emotionally, for all of these years from the accident that occurred on the set of Kill Bill. The safety of the professionals who work on the movies I produce is vital to me and I never want to let anyone down.
I never hid anything from Uma or anyone else nor did I participate in any cover up of any kind – and I never would.
I was informed of Uma’s feelings in regard to this incident a few months ago and have done my best over this time to get as much verifiable information from all of the relevant sources that I could and shared it with Quentin. I wanted to make sure she had all of the answers she had been seeking.
I have great respect for Uma Thurman, both as an artist and a person, and only wish her well.
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