Zoe Bell talks Death Proof with RT

The Kiwi stuntwoman gives us the scoop on Tarantino's latest.

Is it also a good thing for your career, going forward, that you can say you've done a lead acting role and can do your own stunts?

ZB: I hope so. I don't want to jinx any potential forward movement but there's a movie coming up next year - it's an untitled project at this stage - and it'll be starring me in a kind of action/adventure sort-of Indiana Jones type genre aimed at young girls for them to have an action hero, basically. Which sounds fucking cool to me. I think the brilliance there is even if there's little roles that require a lot of action the community will be like, "Fuck, yeah, we'll use Zoe, she can talk, she can flip."

It's interesting, though, balancing the two. I don't want to give up stunts, I love doing stunts and I plan to keep doing them. Of course if you're going to become an actor somewhere along the line there's a balance you've got to keep. Because the thing is, if my face becomes familiar and I'm being seen as a featured extra as a stuntwoman, then people may recognise me. But who knows, I don't know of any women, or men really, who've gone from being a stuntperson to being an actor and then mixed it up after that, so I'm kind-of chartering new territory! So fuck the rules, let's just see what we can do with it!

Is there a concern that people are going to hesitate going to you because they think you'll ask for more money than an all-out stuntwoman?

ZB: I have thought that. I would like to make it clear to those guys that I would love to do the work. Maybe it's to do with the money, but I think it'll probably be more about, "Oh, she's an actor now, we can't." And it's been interesting because the last couple of months I haven't been in town - I've been away promoting the movie - and it really doesn't take long to get out of the loop in LA, you know. I rang my friends before I left and said, "Oi, you guys; we're going to hang out, and you're going to hire me on that movie, and we're going to do this..." I want to get back in the loop as soon as I get home just to keep it rolling. Especially if this movie doesn't shoot until next year; I want to get busy. I get bored really easily. If my character is just doing action in whatever form... sweet.

Zoe Bell

Having spoken to stuntmen and women in the past it's often surprising how safe everything is played; every stunt, major and minor, is planned to the last detail. So I'm guessing that Zoe the stuntwoman is not Zoe the character, because she seems decidedly more carefree than most stunt performers I've spoken to...

ZB: More mental? [laughs] Yeah. I'm certainly not a conservative person, and you know personality traits in what you see on screen is definitely me. Whether I would jump out of a car, ride on the bonnet and then chase down a serial killer, I think that's probably the Quentin twist on Zoe Bell.

Life's too short to be super conservative but it's also too short to make it any shorter. I don't plan on dying early, but at the same time I don't plan on playing it so safe that I'll live to ninety. I think when you do that stuff for a living, if I get too nailed, not just my livelihood financially but how I love spending my time is jeopardised. When I was injured after Kill Bill I had a year where I not just couldn't make any money but I couldn't swim, I couldn't surf, I could hardly run, which is insane. I couldn't do gymnastics, martial arts, I could barely crawl on all fours. That was devastating to me.

Suddenly you realise, shit, I'm not invincible, and suddenly you have to find a balance where you can keep doing the shit that you want to do without hindering the way you want to live. But, still avoid massive risk so you can keep doing what you want to do. It's tricky.

What happened on Kill Bill?

ZB: A stunt went wrong, basically. It was one of those human errors that shouldn't have happened, but it did. Basically, they told me that all the bones in my wrist dislocated except one. The ligament that was attaching all of them got bust so I had surgery to mend the ligament. I had pins to immobilise it for three months and so after three months everything had atrophied and it was fucked for a good year before I got Catwoman and even on Catwoman I still couldn't crawl. I was battling with it for a long time; it was miserable.

It was really painful, but more than that it really fucked with my head. That was the hardest part; suddenly not knowing where I stood, or what my identity was, or what I was going to do with my life. All of those big mid-life-crisis things happening at 23 all at once. That was the scary part for me. Not to mention just being in pain all the time which made it worse.


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