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She had a small role in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, playing the goddess Venus alongside Oliver Reed's Vulcan; during her entrance she briefly appears nude, in an homage to Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.

The most notable of these first four films was Oscar-winning drama Dangerous Liaisons, in which Thurman's character of Cecile de Volanges is seduced by the manipulative Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich). She's more than a little haunted." In 1990, Thurman appeared with Fred Ward and Maria de Medeiros in Henry & June, a sexually provocative drama about the relationship and affairs between writer Henry Miller and his wife June Miller in 1931 Paris.

Other acting credits in the decade include Be Cool (2005), The Producers (2005), and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006).

She received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her five-episode role in Smash (2012), and garnered critical praise for her supporting performance in the Volume I of Lars von Trier's two-part art drama Nymphomaniac (2013).

Thurman received a Buddhist upbringing, and spent altogether around two years in the Indo-Himalayan town of Almora.

Thurman is described as having been an awkward and introverted girl who was teased for her tall frame, angular bone structure, enormous feet and unusual name (sometimes using the name "Uma Karen" instead of her birth name).

She obtained a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Sci-fi Actress and was also nominated for Favourite Movie Actress at the Kids' Choice Awards.

In 1998, she starred as a British secret agent in The Avengers, another financial and critical flop; CNN described her as "so distanced you feel like you’re watching her through the wrong end of a telescope." She took on the role of Fantine in Les Misérables, the 1998 film version of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name, directed by Bille August.

In Quentin Tarantino's neo-noir black comedy Pulp Fiction (1994), Thurman portrayed Mia Wallace, the wife of a Los Angeles mobster.Played by the long-necked Uma Thurman, she's less vixen than ninny – a smooth operator whose maneuvers seem to issue not from shrewdness or intelligence but from a microchip that allows her to robotically spout her lines with careful inflection.It's a blunder of a performance, and makes the viewer wish that [the director] had cast a more accomplished actress — Kate Winslet, perhaps, or Cate Blanchett — who could give dimension to the character and indicate subtext in a way that Thurman can't".A commercial success, the picture also garnered Thurman recognition and acclaim from critics and audiences; Malkovich said of her, "There is nothing twitchy teenager-ish about her, I haven’t met anyone like her at that age. The film was the first to receive an NC-17 rating and partly because many American newspapers refused to advertise films with the new rating, it did not get wide release in the United States. The New York Times wrote: "Thurman, as the Brooklyn-accented June, takes a larger-than-life character and makes her even bigger, though the performance is often as curious as it is commanding." In the 1991 British adventure Robin Hood, she played Maid Marian, the love interest of the titular character.The film was originally intended for a theatrical release in the US, but premiered as a television film for Fox network.

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