LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Uma Thurman has always liked a challenge, and she got one with her new film, "The Life Before Her Eyes," an intense drama about a mother haunted by a horrific decision made as a teen-ager.
The movie, directed by Vadim Perelman who also made the 2003 dark drama "House of Sand and Fog," debuted in select U.S. cities last week and expands nationwide on Friday.
Thurman perhaps is best known for roles in director Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill" movies, and for years she has been highly sought out as an actress. But for "Life Before Her Eyes," she also took on the role of producer, helping shepherd a difficult story onto the screen.
"I developed it, kicked it around and kept it alive for years, so it was very satisfying to finally get it made," she told Reuters.
Thurman plays Diana, an art-history teacher living a seemingly idyllic life, but audiences soon learn she is haunted by terrible events in her past as the film cuts back-and-forth between the present and events 15 years earlier.
As a young free spirit, Diana (played by Evan Rachel Wood) and her best friend Maureen (Eva Amurri) were cornered in a high school bathroom by a deranged student gunman who asked them to make an agonizing choice between which girl should live and which should die.
Fifteen years later, in the present, Diana is trying to come to terms with her decision as she struggles to raise her own rebellious 8-year-old daughter and deal with the possibility her husband is having an affair.
"The Life Before Her Eyes" starts with a graphic and horrific Columbine-style school massacre. But for Thurman that senseless act of violence was a departure point for a tale she sees as "a beautiful, haunting piece with a lot of humanity about a girl coming-of-age, a woman dying, and the struggle to grow up in America."
The movie deals with the tricky transition from girlhood to womanhood and the stress and strain of a mother-daughter relationship, Thurman said.
Thurman, who turns 38 later this month, is a versatile actress whose movies have ranged widely from musical "The Producers" to the action-filled "Kill Bill" movies and period drama "Dangerous Liaisons." She has already completed her next film, romantic comedy "The Accidental Husband" in which she stars opposite Colin Firth.
She also produced the 2002 HBO movie "Hysterical Blindness," and said she liked producing and was looking for another project.
"I'm very choosy about everything I do -- and also very lucky," she said.
The New York-based star hasn't been quite so lucky in her private life. She's been married -- and divorced -- twice, first to Gary Oldman, then to Ethan Hawke with whom she has a 10-year-old daughter, Maya, and a 6-year-old son, Levon.
Asked if she and Hawke are still friends, she replies simply, "We do our best. It never is (easy)."
Would she ever consider getting married again? "I can't comment on that," is all she said. "But I'm doing well. I have my good days and bad, but they're getting better."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman