October 27, 2005
Uma Thurman, Shiksa Goddess
Sandra Bullock was all set to take the role of Rafi Gardet in the movie "Prime," playing the 37-year-old woman who falls in love with a 23-year-old Jewish artist. But two weeks before shooting, Bullock pulled out. The actress told the trades the script hadn't been revised to her satisfaction, although writer/director Ben Younger insisted that he had gone over all script changes with Bullock. He also said he was perplexed by Bullock's sudden, lurching departure.
Now, a year later, as the film is being released to good reviews, there's just one word for the Bullock fiasco: Whatever.
That's because, shortly after Bullock's resignation, Uma Thurman signed on for the role.
In a role that seemed to be calling for the ultimate shiksa -- the unattainably perfect tall, blonde, very not Jewish woman, who could imagine anyone more perfect than Ms. "Kill Bill"/"Pulp Fiction"/"Truth About Cats and Dogs" Thurman?
"She's a shiksa goddess," Younger told The Journal.
"She's someone who would be irresistible to a nice Jewish momma's boy," said the director, who grew up Modern Orthodox and went to yeshiva for elementary and high school.
Uma's character, Rafi, is for the most part, oblivious to the religious conflict raging between her boyfriend David Bloomberg (Bryan Greenberg) and his mother Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep).
"There's a huge theme between the fact that she's sort of agnostic, probably a WASP, non-religious, and he comes from a strong Jewish background and heritage -- and that means a lot to him and his family," Thurman said. "And she's kind of outside.... In some way she's not welcome."
Thurman said her character is "just a typical open person who's not brought up with religion."
But that doesn't mean she won't fall for a Jewish boy. At one point, Rafi says to her therapist Streep (before confessing that she is dating the therapist's son): "You were so right about Jewish men. He's so attentive. I mean, of course, you know, you're married to one."
(The Streep character, more to herself than her client, says: "Yes, but he has A.D.D.")
Younger said Rafi is just expressing what's out on the street: "Non-Jewish women talk about it, how [Jewish men] are not afraid of closeness and intimacy."
So what is it about the shiksa goddess type that appeals so much to Jewish men?
"I don't think it's the taboo thing," Younger said. "I think it's about getting as far away as possible from what you grew up with. It's probably genetically healthy. I think everyone wants something different."
"Uma's the poster child for different as far as Jewish boys go," Younger said. "You don't see Uma at the Young Israel."