Zoe Bell interview by Paul Salfen
Although you may not recognize her name yet, you probably know her work. New Zealand native Zoe Bell was the stuntwoman for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2 and doubled for Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess. If you’ve seen her new film Grindhouse, though, you’ll definitely know who she is by the end of the movie. The apparent breakout star of Quentin Tarantino’s segment, Death Proof, features Bell as herself in an unforgettable action sequence in which she rides on the hood of a car and later, with co-stars Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms, kick Kurt Russell’s ass. Doing interviews in bed at home in Venice Beach, which she says is “not too bad”, Bell, 28, is looking forward to riding the wave of success that seems to be coming her way. She says, “I’m interested in seeing if I can pursue a little bit of this acting thing along with my action stuff. It would be a shame not to take this opportunity and grab it by the horns.”
The scenes where you’re strapped to the hood of the car are pretty intense. Although you’re used to this stuff; did you get hurt at all?
Not really. A few bruises and scrapes. There was one point that I hit my knee right on the nerve and had a dead leg. We were doing the scene and I had to put my hands up on my throat to let them know to cut the scene. I think I freaked out everyone else. What you’re watching on the screen, they’re watching on the monitor and I’m supposed to be acting scared, but theoretically I could really be hurt at some point so they got all worried when we had to stop. It could kind of embarrassing to have to stop the film over a dead leg, though.
So how was it to kick Kurt Russell’s ass?
It was a blast. I was so stoked to see how that scene turned out. He was such a good sport because the girls were so keen on making it look cool and looking tough. He’s an honorary stuntwoman, er, stuntman. He races cars, plays baseball and all that so he knows how to jump into action.
Did you realize that you would have such a stand-out role until you saw the way the movie turned out?
No. It is pretty cool. It was unbeknownst to me. I thought I was playing a small cameo role at first. There’s actually about fifteen to twenty minutes missing from each film that are for the non-English speaking counties that are getting the movies separately. I didn’t know that the speaking half of what I did would make it because there’s a whole big scene with Rosario and the girls before they come to pick me up.
So are you getting your own action figure?
That’s what I was told. There’s supposed to be, but I’m more excited about the bobble heads. I want a bobble head of me!
What’s it like working on the set with Quentin? Is it as high-energy as he is?
His love of working on the set is infectious and contagious. He really makes you feel like you’re part of the movie, not just an actor going from A to B. He says it’s “our movie”, it’s not him saying, “my movie”. The funny thing about Quentin is that he’s got this incredible energy like a small kid in a candy store but he’s also incredibly calm. If something’s not working and he has to wait a half an hour he doesn’t brood for a half an hour, he’ll just keep joking, laughing and hanging out. One time when we damaged the car pretty severely, we put a hole in the radiator and it was going to take 45 minutes to replace it and that’s 45 minutes of shooting time, so we spent 45 minutes listening to music. He realized there was nothing he could do about it and he was OK with it. He’s pretty patient guy considering.
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