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Uma Thurman Called Her '90s Marriage to Gary Oldman "a Mistake"

There's a 12-year age gap between the two actors.

When you're young and in love, everything seems like it's right with the world. That's evidently how Uma Thurman felt when she married her first husband, Gary Oldman. The two stars reportedly met back in 1989, when he was 31 and she was just 19. They married in 1990 and were divorced in 1992, two years before Thurman had her breakout moment in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. So while you may know all about her second marriage, to Ethan Hawke, you may not have even realized that she was once legally bound to the now-64-year-old Oscar winner. After Oldman and Thurman's relationship fizzled, she looked back on it in an interview, calling their love affair "a mistake." Read on to find out more about this little-known famous couple and why the Kill Bill star regrets getting hitched.

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They may have been introduced by Sean Penn.

Neither Oldman nor Thurman have revealed how their relationship started. But according to InStyle, one story goes that Sean Penn introduced Thurman to his co-star when he and Oldman were shooting the 1990 movie, State of Grace. Another version says that Thurman met Oldman when she came to set to visit the movie's director, Phil Joanou, her boyfriend at the time. Speaking to Filmmaker Magazine in 2014, Joanou confirmed that, either way, the two actors somehow began dating and got married "right after the movie."

Around the time the movie was in production, Oldman had been married to Lesley Manville for a couple of years. They split in 1989, and their divorced was finalized in 1990.

Thurman called it a "crazy love affair."

Uma Thurman in 1999
Diane Freed/Stringer

By 1996, Thurman was a huge star—and about to meet Hawke on the set of Gattaca. In an interview with Vanity Fair that year, she spoke out about her first marriage for the first time.

Thurman said that it "a mistake," adding, "But you know, what can I say? He's a truly great actor. We met when I was 18. He was 12 years older. It was a crazy love affair that ended, as it needed to. He was my first love. I had no prior experience."

The interviewer asked if getting together with the much older Oldman was "a daddy trip." To this, Thurman laughed and said, "Not unless it was to make my father mad."

Friends said they noticed a change in her when the two were together.

Gary Oldman in 2022
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

To Vanity Fair, Thurman's friend, film director Terry Gilliam, noted that he felt like she was a different person when she was with Oldman.

"There was a great change in Uma," he said. "She seemed to be drawn to difficult people—maybe she was trying to prove something—and had somehow aged overnight, lost her youth, which she has since regained."

Oldman was dealing with alcoholism at that time, though he's been sober since the late '90s. He told The Los Angeles Times in 2021 about the extremity of his drinking problem.

"I used to sweat vodka. It becomes such a part of you," he said. "My tongue would be black in the morning. I blamed it on the shampoo. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, to be in the grip of it. It's hell. And that self-effacing humor? That's just there to mask the inadequacy."

"Gary will always be crazy. It takes a special kind of woman to put up with him," an unnamed source told Vanity Fair back in 1997. Meanwhile, the magazine reports, Oldman once complained of Thurman, "You try living with an angel."

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They both went on to other relationships.

Luna Thurman-Besson and Uma Thurman in 2022
Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Oldman would go on to marry three more times after Thurman. He was married to Donya Fiorentino, a model, from 1997 to 2001, then to singer and actor Alexandra Edenborough from 2008 to 2015. His current wife is Gisele Schmidt, a curator and writer. They've been married since 2017. The actor has three children: one from his marriage to Manville and two that he welcomed with Fiorentino. Over the years, Fiorentino has claimed that Oldman physically abused her, which he has denied. (Their son Gulliver Oldman issued a statement in 2018 maintaining his father's innocence and calling his mother "a sad and very troubled person.")

Asked about his multiple marriages, including to Thurman, by Playboy in 2014, Oldman began his answer with a "groan," the outlet noted. "Look, relationships are very, very hard," he said. "They just are. I mean, four times! I'm not proud to say it. One of them was for 10 minutes. I don't think it meant very much to either of us."

As for Thurman, she married Hawke in 1998. They welcomed two children: daughter Maya Hawke, now famous for her role on Stranger Things, and son Levon. They divorced in 2005, and Thurman went on to date French businessman Arpad Busson. The couple were engaged twice and share a daughter named Luna, born in 2012, but they never married. As of 2021, the star, now 52, was dating Bloomberg Media CEO Justin B. Smith, per People.

Karen Fratti
Karen Fratti is an entertainment and culture writer. She went to Temple University, where she received a B.A. in English and has an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School University. Read more
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