Hell’s Bell23 Jul, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Stuntwoman Zoë Bell’s first attempt at acting involved being strapped to the hood of a speeding car in Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 Grindhouse flick Death Proof. Now Bell is headlining the DVD release Angel of Death, playing remorseless assassin Eve, who suffers severe head trauma (from a protruding knife) and is then haunted by her victims. Eve seeks revenge on those who originally ordered the hits — the mob. Lucy Lawless, Doug Jones and Ted Raimi also star.
Originally released on Crackle.com as a 10-episode Web series, Angel of Death, created by Ed Brubaker, attracted nearly 5 million unique visitors, prompting a DVD release of a 90-minute movie version.
Angel of Death hits shelves July 28 on DVD ($24.96) from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Agent DVD recently caught up with Auckland, New Zealand, native Bell.
Agent DVD: Why do you like beating up guys on film?
Zoë Bell: To be honest, it doesn’t matter if it’s guys or girls. I like the fights. It’s the joy of the choreography and dance.
After rolling an Aston Martin, who would get out looking hotter, Eve or James Bond?
We both get out, holding hands, topless. There are quite a few men who look good without their clothes on. I like men without their clothes on. I think women look hot without their clothes as well.
How did you get into stunt work?
I did gymnastics and martial arts growing up, and I met people who were getting paid to do it, which I was highly jealous of. I kept talking about it at home and my dad, who is a doctor, fixed up a guy with a bump on his head who turned out to be a stuntman. My dad was like, “Interesting. Here is some Phenol. Can I please have a phone number because my daughter won’t shut up, and I would like to have her call you.”
How did Tarantino convince you to start acting, in Death Proof?
I was under the impression that he wanted me for some cameo shout-out to stunt people. It wasn’t until I read the script that I realized how wrong I was. Even then I didn’t really get how important my character was until it came out and audiences responded. I totally got how this job was a massive responsibility, an awesome privilege and an honor.
Were you intimidated by the amount of dialog in a typical Tarantino film?
I think I had done three separate lines of dialog before. The thought of learning 40 pages of dialog was completely overwhelming. Having not been an actor before and not having built-in fears like fucking up dialog on a set and how embarrassing and horrible that is, I think helped me. We did six pages of dialog in one shot. It was a lot. But I didn’t know that was a lot. I’m not usually on the set when dialog is being shot. So at the end of the day when the girls said, ‘Holy crap we just did six pages in one in one shot,’ I said that’s good. That’s exciting. That’s cool, right? I didn’t know to be terrified of that, which was probably a good thing.
Is Tarantino crazy or a just mad genius?
A little bit of both really. He definitely begins somewhere in the realm of genius. He has a lot going on in his head at all times. You sense that when you are talking to him. There is no single thought running through his head. He has so much to offer and so much to say and so many thoughts and opinions and ideas. I can’t imagine being him. It must be exhausting.
What’s the best way to take down Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) or Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) in Kill Bill 1 & 2?
I think plucking out Elle’s other eye is the best way. Beatrix is apparently a little bit more difficult. I think you might have to fuck with her daughter. That would be the only way to do it. I loved playing her stunt double. I had so much work on that project. I like being an integral part of the movie making process. There was so much action and we’re all such a tight knit group I really felt like I was a key player. I was 22 at the time and learned so much.
Do you think Tarantino and Brubaker are smitten by some kind of dominatrix fantasy of you?
Of course. I would never in a million years have thought that, but now that you mention it, it’s entirely possible. I think I would be a cute dominatrix.
A lot of the making of Angel of Death is covered in the extras on the DVD, but what does the disc leave out about you?
Like some dirty little secret? I would like a tattoo. It’s always been like if I get one, someone has to cover it at work. But as I get older, I think, ‘Why not?’
I was thinking of getting my lip pierced. Belly button ring and pierced nipples never sounded appealing to me due to my line of work. You are just asking to lose a piece of something. I’m quite happy having both of nipples intact.
Growing up as a child in New Zealand would you have played with a Zoë Bell action figure or Barbie?
Barbie? I was a tomboy. I’m not quite sure when it developed when puberty hit and things starting getting hairy and boobs started growing that I thought I would begin wearing baggy clothes and making faces at the boys instead of making out with them. I wasn’t an aggressive tomboy. I just didn’t want to be a girl. It’s not that I wanted to be a dude as much as I found it hard to accept that I was girl.
Isn’t a woman’s physical assets advantageous?
No, that’s exactly what terrified me. That’s exactly what I didn’t want to deal with. I didn’t fuck dudes. I would much rather joke with the guys and do sit-up competitions than have them appreciating my tits. Even to this day, the way my brain works seems to be quite similar to the way a dude’s brain works. So I’ve always related comfortably with guys. Having said that, at the height of my tomboy period, some of my closest friends were girls. Having boobs and being a girl at that age gave me power over guys that I didn’t want and I didn’t know what to do with. So I did everything in my power to pretend I didn’t have tits. It was just easier if I didn’t have relationships at all. I would look at my friends in relationships and say, "why do you do this? All you do is complain." That all started to change at some point (laughing).
So you aren’t overly emotional?
No, I’m pretty sensitive. But I tend to be quite practical too. I don’t know, maybe I’m just talking horseshit right now. I’m not a particularly jealous person. If my guy is talking with other girls, it’s not something I worry about. But if the girl is sticking her tongue down his throat, then we have a problem. Whatever the emotion is that guys tend to function on I tend to share. I can’t multi-task to save my life.
How’s the response in Auckland?
I get recognized on the street and I think that’s okay as long as you’re not a douchebag about it. New Zealand likes it to be proud of their people. We definitely have a little bit of the tall poppy syndrome in New Zealand and if you get too big for your boots a fellow Kiwi is the first one to chop you off at the knees.
(Interlude) I’m sitting on my front porch and there’s a dude sitting on the street with a camera taking a picture of me. Now he’s driving away. That’s totally fucking weird. Ewe, he was taking picture up my skirt. Normally I have my Ninja pants on but you are distracting me so I think I just had my crotch photographed and it going to be plastered on the fucking Internet.
Actress Rachel Ward said in a recent interview that young starlets should be willing to do nude scenes. She said boobs are sexy and viewers want to see them. Where do you draw the line?
It depends on the project. I don’t walk into a room and say, "You know what? If you give me this job I promise I’ll get my tits out." That just seems a compromising to me. If I read a role and I was really passionate about the project and the character had to get her tits out and it made sense to me I would do it. I don’t have a problem with my sexuality. And I think tits are fantastic. But I don’t want them to cheapen the project. I don’t want nudity to cheapen me. Unless it makes sense, I don’t feel like strangers need to see my booty. Things could change. The economy is bad at the moment so I might be getting my tits out (laughing).