Uma Thurman arguably became a well-known name in Hollywood thanks to her performance in Pulp Fiction. Yet still, there's one person in specific who refuses to watch it: Her own daughter. Here's why.
Runs in the Family
Many people may be familiar with Hollywood star Uma Thurman, while others may possibly already know who Maya Hawke is. But what fans of these two actresses may not know is that they are related.
Yes, that's right, the Stranger Things star who plays Robin Buckley on the thrilling series is Thurman's and Ethan Hawke's daughter. While it might not have been obvious before, seeing these two side by side shows just how much they resemble each other. Both in their looks and their careers.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Back in 2017, Hawke decided to follow in her mom's footsteps by going to auditions and getting her foot through the doors of Hollywood. Her debut role was as Jo March was on BBC's version of Little Women. And ever since that gig, she has thrived in the acting world.
And it's not just because her parents are both arguably some of the biggest names in the industry - but also because the 23-year-old actress is immensely talented. Maybe it's because she picked up a few tips here and there growing up on the sets of her mom and dad's films.
A Long Time in the Making
Thurman and Ethan would always bring their daughter to work. And not because they had to, but because Hawke loved it. She said, "My favorite place to be was on set, behind the camera with headphones on, watching the monitors while my mum and dad did the same scene 100 times over from different angles, just sitting and learning."
In 2021, at age 21, Hawke actually got to work with her dad after spending years watching him do his thing. In fact, she even got to play his daughter in The Good Lord Bird. The following year she revealed to People magazine that getting to act with Ethan was something “we’ve been thinking about forever.” Aww.
Hawke went on to tell the interview from People Magazine that although the film was the first actual time they were together on set, she and her father were “always working together in one way or another.” No matter what, these two have always been there for each other.
"Whether it's me calling him, being like, 'How do I do this? I need help.' Or him helping me with audition tapes. There's a real network of communication there. I really see him as my teacher more than almost anything else," the actress shared. To the naked eye, her relationship with her parents was always a tight-knit one.
A United Front
Although she loved learning about Hollywood, Hawke admitted that growing up, her parents gave her a relatively normal life - despite both of them being in many top-rated movies! She said, “It wasn’t like, ‘Let’s go to this premiere!’ Both of my parents wanted to be understood by their children as people and as parents.”
This might be why even when Hawke had gotten older, neither Thurman nor Ethan pushed their daughter to pursue a career in acting. In fact, they never urged her to focus on one path - she was supported no matter what. But yet still, she went on to be on the big-screen just like them.
“My Parents Are Proud”
Hawke noted, “I don’t think that either of my parents would be like, ‘I’m so proud of my daughter because of how good she was in this one thing or that other thing.’ My parents are proud of me because of the way I treat my friends. My parents are proud of me because I travel alone a lot and haven’t died.”
Her upbringing completely helped the now 23-year-old become the woman she is today. But not just because her mom and dad were arguably great parents, but because they were all placed in the public eye. And, of course, growing up in that world is bound to affect a person.
A Child of Divorce
One of the more impactful things that occurred to Hawke as a child was her parent's divorce. Although today Thurman and Ethan remain close friends, back when their break up was fresh, things weren't exactly smooth sailing. And, of course, this impacted the young girl.
She confessed during an interview with NME, "There were days when things were traumatic, like when my parents went through their divorce, and having all that stuff out in public was incredibly painful." Having the spotlight on her and her family wasn't so easy. But that's not all she had to say for herself.
Growing Up In Hollywood
"When I was a kid, there were days when I had to put an umbrella over my head to get to the car to go to school ’cos there were paparazzi outside," she recalled about her childhood. "I knew enough to know that and to fear it, but eventually my love overpowered my fear - I'm happiest when I get to act and play [music]."
Dealing with paparazzi and the pressure from the media and the public isn't something new to Hawke. Especially since she always saw how her mom and dad had to deal with it. And even years later, when Hawke was older, she continued seeing her family face the same difficulties with the press.
Keeping Things in the Family
Back in 2015, her famous mom was dealing with a very public and ugly custody battle. Thurman and her then-fiance Arpad Busson had welcomed a daughter Luna together. Every time the Kill Bill star went into the family court, the entire building was surrounded by curious paparazzi.
Thurman didn't hold back from telling them to back off, "The press doesn't belong in Family Court. You should respect people's privacy. Thank you, goodbye!" she told the media. But they didn't listen to her request and instead continued snapping pics. These incidences, of course, have led to her not being a big fan of the paps.
Struggling With Paparazzi
When Hawke first expressed an interest in pursuing acting, her parents were supportive - but they also reminded her of all the difficulties that came along with it. Especially dealing with pushy paparazzi. They were wary of the "public life side of acting and the difficulties of that" and “tried to protect” her.
She was well aware of the hardships, but she knew she could handle them. "They wanted to ensure I had a strong enough backbone, my own passion for it, and work ethic. They didn't want to cart me along every red carpet or have me do bit-parts in their movies," she recalled.
Learning The Ins & Outs
So it wasn't until she was over 18 that Hawke officially started to get her career going in the world of acting. "Once I was old enough, and it was clear they were my choices, they were very supportive," Maya shared about her parents' opinion of her decisions.
"It's not awesome. Like, it doesn't feel good getting mauled at the Stranger Things premiere or whatever." But it wasn't as bad as she had thought before. "That's not what most of life is like. It's like that for five minutes. And I love my work — I feel really lucky that I get to do it the way that I get to do it."
Over the years, she has played many impressive roles and hasn't just gotten the chance to work with her dad but also with her younger brother, Levon Thurman-Hawke. Yet she still has not been featured in a movie alongside her famous mom. But in 2021, she told W magazine that she would most likely do so one day.
"Whether a friend or a parent, when you have that kind of intimacy with someone, turning to someone else feels like cheating," she said about working with other actors. Especially since she admires her mom's work ethic and how the job was always put before the aspect of fame.
Adjusting to Fame
When Hawke first entered the world of glitz and glam, she didn't feel a major shift in her life. After all, the fame wasn't something exactly new for her. It might've been her parents who were the stars, but she grew up in the same world as them, so it definitely hit close to home.
"I still don't feel famous. I think the benefit of growing up with famous parents is that the barometer of fame is really high," she explained about life in the spotlight. Today she is a reoccurring character on one of Netflix's top hit series, so it's safe to say she's become pretty well known - even if she may not feel it.
But despite Hawke's positive feelings toward celebrity culture, her mom was concerned when she first got started. Thurman shared with the show Access in 2022, "I think any protective parent would be anxious for their child to sort of become… to go into public arena."
But her worry was for reasons we didn't expect. "Not because they want to be in the public arena but because they're so creative," the actress continued. "I just wish they'd find any other way to be creative." Although, it does makes sense that the daughter of two Hollywood legends chose acting as their creative outlet.
A Destined Path
Despite her motherly concerns, Thurman's anxieties were eased when she realized just how much her daughter loved her job. And even more so when she saw how talented Hawke was. The 52-year-old gushed, "She's, in the end, such a brilliant actress. Obviously, there's nothing else that she would have ever done."
"Her talent was so big. It's what she had to do." Of course, she herself understands that more than anything. After all, she was just in her early 20s when she landed her breakthrough role in Pulp Fiction. So perhaps no one understands Hawke's rise to fame more than her mother.
But despite the immense popularity that Thurman's role as Mia Wallace in the hit movie gave her, she was actually skeptical about accepting the job at first. "I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the movie," the actress confessed during an interview with Vanity Fair in 2013.
Her journey from being the star in a Quentin Tarantino film to the A-lister she is today wasn't always such a smooth ride. Thurman is not a newbie when it comes to dealing with hardships - and she definitely had her fair share during her whirlwind of a rise to fame.
After reading the script for Pulp Fiction, Thurman hesitated about completing the job. The violence and chaos that occurred in the movie left her worried about how filming would be. When speaking about how she felt about the movie's premise, she explained it as being "pretty frightening."
If it hadn't been for the director of the movie, we might have met Mia Wallace as a completely different actress. But luckily, Tarantino was able to persuade her to do it. And looking back, the actress was in disbelief at herself. "No one could believe I even hesitated in any way. Neither can I, in hindsight."
A Life-Changing Experience
Especially because if she had not been cast in that movie, who knows where Thurman would be now. That infamous film launched her career into new heights. After it came out, the actress was even nominated for an Oscar. And although she didn't walk home with the award, it was a major milestone.
Her performance as Mia allowed the people of Hollywood to see just how talented she truly was. It helped her land many roles, including some in other Tarantino films, such as Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. But she will never forget the anxiety that she had when she got to set that first day.
Her "Total Insecurity"
While there were many thrilling scenes, she was concerned about one part we didn't expect. "I was more afraid of the dancing than almost anything because it was exactly to my total insecurity." Thurman continued explaining, "Being big and awkward and still quite young then."
"But once I started dancing, I didn't wanna stop, so it was a dream come true." It might have been fun at the time, but she has a hard time watching any of the scenes today. "I think it is always about dancing or fighting for your life. I got 12 shades of PTSD watching that."
We would assume that such an impactful event in her life would be admired by her kids, but that's not exactly how things were… When Thurman's two children were growing up, she only let them watch one of her projects. And that was the movie The Producers.
"They loved it; I play the big Swedish dingbat," the actress told Another magazine in 2008. But even now, her 23-year-old daughter hasn't seen any other of her mom's films. And it's not because Thurman doesn't want her to - in fact, it was Hawkes's personal decision...
Too “Painful” To Watch
Hawke has yet to watch Pulp Fiction. And when asked why, she revealed to The Guardian in 2021, "Sometimes you don't really want to watch your mom getting shot or your dad go through painful emotions, even though you know it's pretend." And honestly, we can understand.
"So mostly I only watch the happy ones," she continued telling the interviewer. "One of my favorite movies of my mom's is The Producers, where she's dancing around being fabulous. That's much more fun to see than John Travolta jamming a needle into her heart."
Coming Full Circle
But regardless of the fact that Hawke has never watched one of her mom's most iconic films does not mean that it doesn't impact both of their lives to this day. In fact, back in 2020, Maya asked her mom to give her a haircut... one that Thurman was very familiar with.
Thurman posted a picture cutting her daughters hair in the same way her character Mia Wallace had it: the infamous black bob. "We are all finding ourselves again," she captioned the photo. But it wasn't the only time she paid tribute to Pulp Fiction.
During the 2022 Oscar award show, she and her former co-stars John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson went up together to present an award. And fans were delighted to not only see her wearing a similar outfit to the one she's known for from Pulp Fiction - a white button-down and black bottoms - but she also danced!
Thurman and Travolta honored their characters from the movie by doing the infamous dance from the film. This shocked fans… especially since she and the director of the movie, Tarantino, had seemingly drifted apart. In 2018, she finally revealed what had happened between them.
While filming Kill Bill, Thurman had requested that a stunt double do her intense scenes filled with fights and many physical hurdles. But she was denied and told she had to do the scenes herself. Unfortunately, Thurman ended up getting badly injured.
The situation led to Thurman pledging to never work with the A-list director again. Yet a few years later, the two resolved their issues and talks of a third Kill Bill movie was on the rise. Tarantino even suggested that Hawke join them to play Thurman's on-screen daughter. But the film was never made.
“He’ll Do What He Wants When He… Wants”
It wasn't until 2019 that Hawke got the honor of being involved in a Tarantino movie: Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. She told NME in 2020, "He makes you feel like making movies is really important. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't but, when you're on his set, it really feels like it is."
A year later, she was asked about the possibility of a Kill Bill movie, to which she said, “There are always rumors about that. Quentin is on his own darn schedule. He’ll do what he wants when he d*mn well wants. But I’ve known him my whole life, and if he ever wanted to work with me again, of course, I would love to.”
Exploring New Opportunities
But while that sits on the backburner, Hawke is busy putting her all into her character in Stranger Things. “I’m really enjoying getting the opportunity to voice Robin and live in that world and be an LGBTQ character whose identity isn’t… the story that Robin gets to be a part of isn’t necessarily an LGBTQ story.”
And while she hasn't always received positive feedback about her work, she still loves her job. "I try to stay out of the feedback loop as much as possible. I'm super-sensitive... it really affects me when it's bad. You kind of try to keep doing your work without being too influenced by whether or not people like what you're doing."
Women in Hollywood
Luckily her support from her family will always come in handy, especially her mom's. In 2020, she told Nylon magazine, "My mom understands in a different way from my dad how difficult [the acting industry] is" - and some of that had to do with Thurman's experiences as a woman in Hollywood.
“Because this industry is so much tougher on women, my mom had reservations about me not becoming an actor, but becoming a public figure. The emphasis that the business puts on your appearance, the emphasis the business puts on your age - on all sorts of things that have nothing to do with your ability to act.”
The best advice Hawke ever got was from her understanding mom, who said, "make the choices you want to make. And that you follow your gut and your instinct and the projects that mean something to you, and that you don't get trapped in the starlet tornado. That you don't value about yourself the things that the business tells you."
Hawke knows how lucky she is for having grown up with celeb parents who understand her difficulties. “I’m well aware that every part I get is somehow influenced by the history of who I am as a person and where I come from. I’m a not-that-famous, not-that-successful young actress - but if I get cast in something, it will get PR.”
“Gives Me a Massive Leg Up”
Speaking of PR, Hawke explained the benefits she can get from press releases. "From a producer's point of view, that's a huge advantage. Which gives me a massive leg up," Maya confessed. "It was a massive leg up in getting an agent and a manager."
She is well aware of the advantages she has in the industry. "All these sorts of extra things that people don't think about when they think of people getting roles." Nonetheless, she still refuses to watch the movie that helped launch her mom into the spotlight and ultimately led her to where she is today.
“My upbringing plays a part in all those interactions, all those moments, all that reasoning. I will get the opportunities I get. I will try as hard as I can to be brilliant in them. And if I suck enough, I’ll stop getting chances.” Although we doubt that will ever happen.
Although her parents' names may have given her a push into the world of acting, it's Hawkes's talent that continues to keep her successful in the business. We can't wait to see the many more projects she will be featured in... and maybe till then, she'll end up watching Pulp Fiction...