An actress noted as much for her exotic, almost otherworldly beauty as she is for her considerable talent, Uma Thurman is one of the most renowned actors of her generation. The daughter of celebrated professor of Buddhist studies Robert A.F. Thurman and Nena von Schlebrugge, a model and psychotherapist who was once married to Timothy Leary, Uma was born in Boston on April 29, 1970. Raised with three brothers in Amherst, where her father taught at Amherst College, she enjoyed a fairly bohemian upbringing, one that was marked by visits from Eastern holy men and Tibetan refugees. Encouraged to think for herself and be independent, Thurman, who had been interested in acting from an early age, left her Massachusetts boarding school at the age of 15 to pursue an acting career. Moving to New York, she earned a living by washing dishes and modeling, though the latter means of support never agreed with her.
The fledgling actress made her debut in Kiss Daddy Goodnight (1987), a forgettable film that cast her as a teen vamp who seduces and robs unsuspecting men. She had a starring role in the teen comedy Johnny Be Good (1988) and also made an eye-catching appearance in Terry Gilliam's underseen fantasy adventure film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). But it wasn't until her casting in Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons (1988) as Cécile de Volanges, the impressionable convent girl deflowered by John Malkovich's slimy Vicomte de Valmont, that Thurman first gained recognition. Her scenes with Malkovich, particularly the one in which he offers to teach her a few bedroom terms in Latin, proved to be some of the most memorable of the year, resulting in a sizable helping of fame for the young actress. Further recognition followed with Thurman's portrayal of Henry Miller's wife -- and the object of both his and Anaïs Nin's affections -- in Philip Kaufman's Henry & June (1990). Unfortunately, the actress' role in the NC-17 film -- which required her to take part in explicit love scenes with Maria de Medeiros -- inspired a great deal of unwelcome, stalker-like attention from any number of "fans," causing Thurman to shy away from doing a subsequent number of films. The projects she did take part in all proved to be forgettable affairs: Robin Hood (1991), Final Analysis (1992), Jennifer 8 (1992), Mad Dog and Glory (1993), and Gus Van Sant's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994).