Thurman is getting a well-deserved starring role in ‘Chambers,’ where she’ll play a grieving mom in search of the truth.
From Dangerous Liaisons to Kill Bill, there’s no genre that the extraordinary Uma Thurman can’t master — and now, with a starring role in Netflix’s upcoming hourlong drama Chambers, she’ll be taking on the world of supernatural horror as well.
Chambers (as in those of the human heart) centers on a young heart attack survivor who “becomes consumed by the mystery surrounding the heart that saved her life.” Yet as she gets closer to uncovering the truth about her donor’s sudden death, she also starts taking on the deceased’s characteristics, some of which are “troublingly sinister.”
According to Deadline, Thurman will play the heart donor’s mother Nancy, who tentatively begins to form a relationship with the young recipient — only to find out that her daughter may not be as dead as she thought.
It’s an intriguing premise that’ll draw inevitable comparisons to Netflix’s existing supernatural smash-hit series Stranger Things, whose character of Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) in particular seems to bear a resemblance to Thurman’s Nancy — both are mothers forced to reckon with the loss of children and their subsequent “return,” which is accompanied by unwelcome otherworldly forces.
In Stranger Things, Joyce is a fiercely protective single parent searching for her son Will, who is swallowed up by the Upside Down and eventually rescued, though he retains an ominous mental connection to the monster inhabiting it; Nancy will likely face a similar mystery as she tracks down what really happened to her heart-donating daughter (who seems, like Will Byers, fated to come back somehow — maybe she’s trapped in a malevolent mirror dimension too).
Chambers could do for Thurman what Stranger Things did for Ryder, as the latter’s raw-edged standout performance was often cited as one of the elements that made the series must-watch TV. While by no means at a standstill, Thurman’s career isn’t as saturated with the same frequency of leading-lady roles she enjoyed throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, when she was often described as Quentin Tarantino’s muse; the actress has since publicly spoken about the discomfort and anger she felt during that time.
On the big screen, Thurman’s recent roles seem almost shamefully unrewarding — she plays a murder victim literally only referred to as “Lady 1” in Lars von Trier’s serial-killer drama The House That Jack Built, and she’ll be playing a harried mom in the family comedy The War with Grandpa (which was pulled from wide release at the last minute following The Weinstein Company’s internal shakeups).
But Thurman has also been forging a steady path on television, and the Chambers announcement could mark a welcome new era in her career. She garnered an Emmy nod for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama thanks to an appearance on Smash and has enjoyed a supporting turn in the well-received dark comedy Imposters, but Chambers seems like it’ll offer Thurman the kind of intense, weighty starring role she hasn’t had in a long time (but certainly deserves).
Moreover, the caliber of Chambers‘ production team provides even more reasons to get excited. The series was created by up-and-coming actress/writer/director Leah Rachel, will be executive produced by Academy Award-winning screenwriter/director Stephen Gaghan, and will feature Akela Cooper as its showrunner. Cooper already has a list of impressive genre TV credits under her belt, having served as a producer for shows like Luke Cage, American Horror Story, and The 100, and her involvement in the project suggests that Chambers will be well-versed in the language of thrills.
As a female-driven genre story that’s written (mostly) by women and whose lead character is a determined yet emotionally vulnerable mother, Chambers feels like a genuinely refreshing new project amidst the still largely male-dominated landscape of TV. But it’s also worth noting that female directors have found a lot more room to thrive on the small screen recently, and Chambers will hopefully continue that tradition of fostering female talent in its further casting and directorial choices.
It’s also exciting to see Thurman in particular cast as Chambers’ lead because her arguably most prominent past projects (Dangerous Liaisons, Pulp Fiction, Gattaca, Kill Bill Vols. I and II) have all been films written and helmed by men. In addition, a starring role in a 10-part series could lend Nancy’s character the kind of interior depth and nuance that’s admittedly hard to portray across just one or two films. If Chambers is what kicks her career back into high gear again, we can’t wait — let the Thurmanaissance begin.