Stunt Woman Zoe Bell Is On Fire
With Grindhouse opening this month, Zoe Bell, the butt-kicking stuntwoman behind Xena and Kill Bill finally gets to be the star
By Kevin Conley
Zoe Bell wears a gel coat underneath a layer of fire-resistant fabric.
Photo Credit: Ture Lillegraven
ZOË BELL HAS spent a good deal of her acting debut riding spread-eagle on the hood of a white Dodge Challenger while a sicko in a black Charger slams her car into guardrails. The movie, called Death Proof-the Quentin Tarantino-directed half of a double bill of horror called Grindhouse, opening this month-is a slam-bang homage to the race-and-chase movies of the 1970s. The hazardous duty is no big deal to Bell, although looking into a camera is.
One of the biggest lies in the film business is that stars do their own stunts. No-body would underwrite $100 million in production costs if that really were Tom Cruise jumping off a Shanghai skyscraper. But Bell is a bona fide butt-kicker, the muscle behind Xena: Warrior Princess who picked up a pair of Taurus awards (the Oscar of the stunt world) for playing Uma Thurman's double in Kill Bill: Volume 2, also directed by Tarantino. Offering Bell the first starring role of her career, Tarantino knew how to recruit her for Death Proof: with a detailed description of the big stunt finale. "I forgot I even had dialogue," says Bell, who is tall with movie-star curves that she undercuts with bloke-ish aplomb. "I was like, 'Sweet, dude. Car stuff! That'd be a buzz.'" Bell's costar Rosario Dawson describes the way most actresses read a script, focusing on the dialogue and skimming past things like car chases. "But Zo's exactly the opposite," she says. "She goes 'blah, blah, blah' past the scene and reads the action."