Uma Thurman has a hang-up about being late. “I have a real thing about time,” she tells The Quarterly. “I am obsessively punctual.” The 38-year-old actress can’t get where she’s going fast enough. If she’s caught in traffic, it’s torture. “I’m like a caged animal in a taxi. I try to breathe. I try to do what my father, a Buddhist scholar, calls ‘red-light therapy.’ Even though you want to commit hara-kiri because you’re late and there’s a red light, you have to realize there’s some meaning in it. You have to slow down, calm down, and realize you’re not in control anyway.”
Thurman wasn’t always so prompt. “As a child, I liked to get to school late and leave early. Growing up in New England, where the winters were dark and cold, it was just so monotonous.” But when she began acting, at 16, her irregular hours ceased. “The film business is like a military operation, and if you’re late, they scold the living daylights out of you. Being late on a film set is a very big deal. For some reason there are people who are arrogantly late, who seem not to care that 60 people are waiting for them. But I am the well-behaved, neurotic type who suffers immensely if I know I’m keeping anyone waiting.”
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