‘Death Proof’ Star Zoë Bell Talks Acting and Stunts at Florida Film Festival

New Zealand stuntwoman Zoë Bell has been kicking butt since playing Lucy Lawless’ (Xena) stunt double on the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. Her background includes gymnastics, martial arts and sports. Her career took off after playing actress Uma Thurman’s stunt double in both of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films.

Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Zoe Bell  Image courtesy: ZoeBell.com

Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Zoe Bell
Image courtesy: ZoeBell.com

Tarantino cast Bell as herself in the action-thriller Death Proof  (2007), which was shown during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival. Seeing the movie on the big screen and feeling the adrenaline rush and anticipation was worth every penny I spent at the Enzian Theater. My husband Dan and I rented the movie years ago but watching it in the theater put us in the driver’s seat instead of the couch.

Death Proof

Death Proof

The movie features a psychopathic stuntman Mike who kills women with his death-proof stunt car. He meets his match when he comes across stuntwomen Bell and Kim and makeup artist Abernathy driving a muscle car during a movie-making break on the back roads of Lebanon, Tenn. Bell’s gripping performance while playing ships mast, a game where you ride on the hood of a car, during a car chase with stuntman Mike, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Bell is natural, funny and a badass throughout the movie.

A Q&A with the darling daredevil followed the film presentation, with Bell sharing that Tarantino provided her with acting training during the filming of the Kill Bill movies. He had also seen her in Double Dare (2004), a movie about stuntwomen, and felt she was a character that people enjoyed watching and wrote a role for her in Death Proof

Photo by: Sandra Carr

Photo by: Sandra Carr

Bell’s role in Death Proof was such an honor from Tarantino. I asked Bell what it was like to play herself. Bell thought “Tarantino was complimentary but smart because I wasn’t a trained actor and didn’t know the difference or had any point of reference for acting myself or somebody else. The reality was he wrote the character based on me—it was my name, acting and career. But the words were his. Quentin writes dialog and that’s what he does. Quentin wouldn’t allow me to take acting classes and just wanted me to know my script. For the record, I have never rode on a hood of a car or killed a man before [Laughs].”

Zoe Bell during her Q&A at the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival Photo by Sandra Carr

Zoe Bell during her Q&A at the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

She also portrayed Eve, an assassin getting revenge on her former employers in the web series Angel of Death (2009) with former Xena star Lucy Lawless. TV show appearances include Lost, CSI: Miami, Gossip Girl and Hawaii Five-O.

Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr at the Florida Film Festival on April 12, 2013 Photo by: Dan Carr

Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr at the Florida Film Festival on April 12, 2013.
Photo by: Dan Carr

Besides Death Proof, her big-screen films include Django Unchained, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Oblivion. She produces and plays the lead character Sabrina in Raze, a horror, female-fighting flick about abducted women that are forced to fight to the death with their bare hands. The movie premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be out in theaters real soon.

Raze Image courtesy: Upcoming-movies.com

Raze
Image courtesy: Upcoming-movies.com

Bell says Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was the most challenging role during her career. She plays a Tall Witch in the movie and had to undergo three hours of prosthetic makeup glued into her orifices, contacts, fake teeth and heavy clothing with a corset, hood,  gloves tucked into her costume, horns on her shoulders and heeled boots.

Zoe Bell and Tanya Hanson Photo by: Sandra Carr

Zoe Bell and Tanya Hanson
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Zoe Bell and fans at the Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Tanya Hanson

Zoe Bell and fans at the Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Tanya Hanson

Being a stuntwoman isn’t easy and Bell provided one person with some valuable advice. “You should be in peak, physical condition and keep training, so that you’re capable of whatever people are asking of you. It’s important to know what your limits are. If you push yourself too far and commit to jobs that are past your limit, then that’s when you disappoint people. Just work very hard to be the best.”

Tanya Hanson, Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr striking a pose on the red carpet during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. Photo by: Samantha Laine

Tanya Hanson, Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr striking a pose on the red carpet during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla.
Photo by: Samantha Laine

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