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Batman And Robin's Uma Thurman Reflects On Playing Poison Ivy 25 Years Later, And She Certainly Remembers The Rubber

Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman & Robin may not be the most beloved of the Batman movies, but one thing it wasn’t lacking in was star power. Along with George Clooney taking over the Caped Crusader mantle from Val Kilmer (who found the role “isolating”) and Clueless star Alicia Silverstone being recruited to play Batgirl, the 1997 blockbuster also starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman as lead antagonists Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, respectively. Batman & Robin celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and Thurman recently reflected on playing the popular Batman villain, including all the rubber involved.

Uma Thurman was the first actress to play Poison Ivy in live-action, and in the two and a half decades since then, the character has also been played on camera by Clare Foley, Maggie Geha and Peyton List in Gotham (it’s a long story) and Bridge Regan in Batwoman (the latter series also saw Nicole Kang’s Mary Hamilton transforming into Poison Ivy 2.0). For Thurman though, she was pleasantly surprised to realize that this June, two and a half decades will have passed since her Poison Ivy outing, telling ET:

Oh my goodness, that’s amazing. I was just talking about Joel Schumacher, the director who is a friend I love so much. ... I loved Joel Schumacher.

Batman & Robin was Joel Schumacher’s second Batman movie, having inherited the directorial reins from Tim Burton for 1995’s Batman Forever. Uma Thurman’s version of Poison Ivy, a.k.a. Pamela Isley, was originally a botanist who turned into a plant-manipulating, poison and pheromone-emitting supervillain after her colleague, John Glover’s Jason Woodrue, knocked a shelf of toxins on her after she saw him turn serial killer Antonio Diego in Bane with the Venom drug. After arriving in Gotham City, Poison Ivy partnered with Mr. Freeze, but she was eventually defeated by Batgirl and later earned Freeze’s ire when he learned she tried to kill his wife, Nora.

Although Batman & Robin was widely criticized, to the point that George Clooney has apologized for the movie on numerous occasions, Uma Thurman’s performance as Poison Ivy drew some praise in various reviews. From her end, Thurman has an enjoyable time working on the movie, even though she had to wear a lot of rubber. As the actress recalled:

That was a fantastic experience. I had to wear lots of rubber suits. I did not have a rubber mask. I had my own face. But I had some rubber appliances on my face sometimes. That was about as much rubber as I've ever worked with, personally.

Because of its poor critical reception, Batman & Robin marked the end of the original Batman film series, which relaunched in 2005 with Batman Begins. In 2020, Batman & Robin writer Akiva Goldsman said he was sorry for how the movie turned out, and also revealed that the story was originally intended to be darker. As for Uma Thurman, her notable post-Batman & Robin credits include Gattaca, the Kill Bill movies, My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and this year sees her starring in the TV series Suspicion and Super Pumped.

A new era of Batman cinematic history kicks off on March 4 with the release of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck will also reprise their respective versions of Gotham City’s Dark Knight in The Flash, which comes out on November 4.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.