Zoë Bell

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Not to be confused with Zoë Ball.
Zoë Bell
Zoe Bell Oblivion Premiere.jpg
Bell at the 2013 premiere for Oblivion in Hollywood
Born Zoë E. Bell
(1978-11-17) 17 November 1978 (age 35)
Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Occupation Actress
Stuntwoman
Years active 1992–present

Zoë E. Bell (born 17 November 1978) is a New Zealand stuntwoman and actress. Some of her most notable stunt work includes doubling for Lucy Lawless on Xena: Warrior Princess and for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. As an actress, she has appeared both on television and in feature films and also starred in the web series Angel of Death. She is probably most recognized for playing herself in the Quentin Tarantino film, Death Proof.

Early life[edit]

Bell was born on Waiheke Island, New Zealand, to Tish, a nurse, and Andrew Bell, a doctor.[1] She has a younger brother named Jake.[2] She grew up on Waiheke Island in Auckland. At a young age, she participated in competitive gymnastics and at the age of 15, she began studying Taekwon-Do. She also participated in dance, high diving, scuba, and track and field activities. Bell attended Auckland Girls' Grammar School and Selwyn College.

Career[edit]

Bell began her career in 1992 when her father treated a stuntman for a head injury and came home with a phone number for her to call. Her first stunt job was jumping out of a car in Shortland Street, a New Zealand soap opera.

She did stunts for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, both of which were filmed in New Zealand; by the fourth season of Xena, she was the stunt double for Lucy Lawless. She fractured vertebrae in her back doing wire work stunts on the show, but continued working for a week until another stunt, in which a breakaway chair was smashed on her back, incapacitated her.

After Xena, she did a number of small films and TV stunt work, including stunt coordinating and playing a small role in a short film Reflections with Adrienne Wilkinson (with whom she had previously worked on Xena). She then went on to double for Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

Though she was initially hired as Thurman's "crash and smash" double,[3] the stunt team realized Bell would also make an ideal double for fight scenes and she was trained accordingly. Bell had to learn to fight in the wushu style.[4] Near the end of filming for Kill Bill: Volume 2, she injured her ribs and the ligaments in her wrist while simulating being thrown backwards by a shotgun blast. Bell required surgery and spent several months recuperating.[5] After production wrapped on Kill Bill, she received "The Bells" sign which hung outside the home of the Vernita Green character. She later gave it to her parents. After both Kill Bill movies, she did stunt work for the movie Catwoman, in which she performed high falls and acted as a double for Sharon Stone.

Tarantino was so impressed with her that he cast her in a leading role in his next film, Death Proof, in which she played herself and performed her own stunts, the most notable of which occurs when she hangs onto the hood of a speeding 1970 Dodge Challenger.[6]

In 2004, the documentary Double Dare was released. It focused primarily on Bell and veteran stuntwoman Jeannie Epper, following them during their travails in Hollywood. The film presented a view of opposing ends of the stuntwoman spectrum, with the aging Epper continuing her search for work in an industry where age is not necessarily considered an asset and Bell, then a Hollywood newcomer, trying to break into the industry. The filming of Double Dare covered Zoë's career from the end of Xena to the beginning of her work on Kill Bill: Volume 1.

In 2004, Bell and Angela Meryl (Vivica A. Fox's stunt double) were nominated at the Taurus World Stunt Awards in the categories "Best Overall Stunt by a Woman" and "Best Fight" for their doubling of the knife fight between the characters Beatrix Kiddo and Vernita Green in Kill Bill: Volume 1.[7] In 2005, Bell was nominated for a Taurus in the categories "Best Overall Stunt by a Woman," "Best Fight," and "Best High Work." She and Monica Staggs (Daryl Hannah's double) won Best Overall Stunt and Best Fight for their fight in Budd's trailer in Kill Bill 2. Her Best High Work nomination was for a fall of over 200 feet in the film Catwoman.

After Catwoman, Bell went on to appear as a stuntwoman in the action thriller The Kingdom . In yet another Tarantino feature film, Inglorious Basterds, Bell performed stunts once again.

In August 2007, Bell confirmed she had signed on to play the lead role in a film about an American soldier who, upon returning to the US from a tour of duty in Iraq, helps a young girl in trouble.[8] She told the New Zealand Herald she would do her own stunts in the as-yet untitled film, and that the American accent was "a big challenge". In October 2007, Variety reported that Bell would appear in the 2009 film Game, starring Gerard Butler; the movie was later renamed Gamer.[9]

Bell was a guest star in the fourth season of Lost, playing the role of the freighter team's radio contact, Regina. She stated in interviews that the role required a little acting and some stunt work. She appeared on screen only in episode 7 of season 4, entitled "Ji Yeon".

In 2008, Bell starred alongside her former Xena colleague Lucy Lawless in Sony (Crackle)'s web series Angel of Death which debuted online in early 2009.[10]

Bell also played a medical technician who moonlights as "Bloody Holly", a roller derby star, in Drew Barrymore's 2009 directorial debut, Whip It.[11]

She appeared alongside Wesley Snipes in Italian director Giorgio Serafini's 2010 thriller, Game of Death.[12] She can also be seen in the music video of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' 2012 single "Dream On".[13]

Filmography[edit]

Bell at the 2007 Scream Awards
Year Film Actress Stunts Role Notes
1998-2001 Xena: Warrior Princess No Yes Xena main actress: Lucy Lawless
2000 Cleopatra 2525 Yes No female betrayer
2003 Kill Bill Volume 1 No Yes The Bride main actress: Uma Thurman
2004 Kill Bill Volume 2 No Yes The Bride main actress: Uma Thurman
Catwoman No Yes Laurel main actress: Sharon Stone
Double Dare Yes No herself
2005 Alias No Yes Kelly Peyton main actress: Amy Acker
2006 Poseidon No Yes
Penny Dreadful No Yes
2007 Grindhouse Yes Yes Sicko Eating Paramedic #2 segment Planet Terror
Yes Yes Herself; segment Death Proof
The Kingdom No Yes
2008 Lost Yes Yes Regina 4 episodes
2009 Bitch Slap Yes Yes Rawhide stunt coordinator; fight choreographer
Angel of Death Yes No Eve
Gamer Yes No Sandra
Whip It Yes No Bloody Holly
Inglourious Basterds No Yes Shosanna main actress: Mélanie Laurent
No Yes Bridget von Hammersmark main actress: Diane Kruger
The Proposal No Yes Margaret main actress: Sandra Bullock
The Final Destination No Yes
2010 Fallout: New Vegas Yes No Melissa & Diane & Linda Schuler & Alice Hostetler video game voice-over
2011 Gossip Girl Yes No herself
2012 Game of Death Yes No Floria
The Baytown Outlaws Yes No Rose
Django Unchained Yes No Tracker
2013 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Yes No Tall Witch
Oblivion Yes No Kara
Iron Man 3 No Yes
Raze Yes No Sabrina
2014 Mercenaries Yes No Clay

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Event Film Award Result
2009 Maverick Movie Awards Reflections Best Stunts Won
2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards The Kingdom Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Nominated
2008 World Stunt Awards Grindhouse Best Overall Stunt by a Stunt Woman Won
2008 World Stunt Awards Grindhouse Best Work With a Vehicle Nominated
2005 World Stunt Awards Kill Bill, Vol. 2 Best Overall Stunt by a Stunt Woman Won
2005 World Stunt Awards Kill Bill, Vol. 2 Best Fight Won
2005 World Stunt Awards Catwoman Best High Work Nominated
2004 World Stunt Awards Kill Bill, Vol. 1 Best Overall Stunt by a Stunt Woman Nominated
2004 World Stunt Awards Kill Bill, Vol. 1 Best Fight Nominated

References[edit]

External links[edit]