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The film saw her play the female lead and love interest of Timothy Hutton's character.Despite modest box office returns, the film was favorably received by the critics, who praised the script and acting, particularly that of Hutton and Portman.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.

She has performed in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action movies.Following her appearances on the December 1985 and May 1986 covers of British Vogue, she starred in Dangerous Liaisons (1988).Thurman next starred with Janeane Garofalo in the romantic comedy The Truth About Cats & Dogs as a ditzy blonde model.In 1997, she starred opposite Ethan Hawke in Gattaca, a science fiction film set in a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic manipulation to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents.Thurman was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Film for Hysterical Blindness (2002).

Hailed as Quentin Tarantino's muse, she reunited with the director to play the main role in both Kill Bill films (2003–2004), which brought her two additional Golden Globe Award nominations.

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.

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".

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