Tarantino Lets Uma Get Away with Murder

10/03/2003 at 10:00 AM EDT

Piqued by curiosity about "Pulp Fiction" director Quentin Tarantino's first movie in six years, Natasha McElhone, Daniel Bedingfield and Peter O'Toole joined the film's stars -- Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, Julie Dreyfus and Michael Madsen -- at Thursday night's London premiere of Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1," an intensely violent homage to the spaghetti Western and kung fu martial arts genres.

PEOPLE reports that, according to Tarantino, who arrived at the theater looking energetic and animated in a navy jogging suit: "A standard staple in Japanese cinema is to cut somebody's arm off and then use garden hoses for veins. (This film) is our way of keeping that tradition alive."

With so many methods of killing employed in the film (which will soon open in the U.S., followed by "Vol. II" next year), Tarantino, 40, is firm about his favorite.

"I gave Samuel Jackson a really good line," he says. And that is, "You've got to kill everyone in the room with an AK 47."

And did leading lady Thurman, 33, who underwent intense physical training for the role just days after the birth of her second child, have a preferred method of assassination?

"No, but I'm very possessive of my sword," the actress joked. "I earned it. I learned the hard way, but it's all about the journey, isn't it?"

Though polite, the recalcitrant Thurman (who looked stunning in a glittering silver and white Christian Dior dress) persistently steered clear of questions concerning her alleged split with husband Ethan Hawke, choosing to focus on the night itself instead. "It's like the Academy Awards out there!" she said.

One thing is clear: Tarantino has found his muse in Thurman, who also starred in his breakthrough 1994 "Pulp Fiction." "I don't need (Marlene) Dietrich," he said of this younger vintage blonde beauty, "because I have Dietrich."

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