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Zoe Bell: A Back Stage Exclusive

Zoe Bell: A Back Stage Exclusive
Photo Source: Aaron Fallon
"I know this sounds ridiculous, but I'm not much of a fighter," says Zoe Bell, despite a mountain of evidence suggesting otherwise.

Born and raised on a small island off the coast of New Zealand, Zoe soon moved to the mainland and then to the U.S. where she's been flying through the air, kicking and punching people, and riding on the tops of cars ever since.

While known for her death-defying stunt work as Lucy Lawless' double on "Xena: Warrior Princess" and later as Uma Thurman's in "Kill Bill," Zoe is now an established actress with roles in Tarantino's "Death Proof," and as Bloody Holly in Drew Barrymore's directorial debut "Whip It" (just released on DVD). Zoe is very down-to-earth in person, someone you could easily spend hours drinking beer and hanging out with.

Actor2Watch: Tell us about when you first met Quentin Tarantino?

Zoe Bell: I first met him because I was traveling to Canada for a holiday to check it out because I didn't think I could work in America.

I didn't have a headshot. I didn't have a resume. I didn't have shit because in New Zealand, there's, like, four stunt women. If you want the tall one that can flip and fight, you call me. If you want the short one... Do you know what I mean?

While I was in San Francisco, Quentin's assistant talked to a friend of hers who was a friend of mine who like," There's auditions on. You should go." I was like, "Sure. Then I can go home and say I auditioned for a Tarantino movie." I had actually no intention of getting the part.

The first time I met Quentin was at the audition. I walked in and there was a guy that looked really familiar on the bike, and I sort of smiled at him and he smiled back. I was like, "How do I know someone here?" I kept walking. I was like, "Oh, my God. That was Ethan Hawke. Where the fuck am I right now? I'm in a time warp. What's going on?" I walk in and there's Daryl Hannah pumping iron. I'm like, "Oh, my God. That's 'Splash.' Where am I?"

I did my audition and I saw Quentin there and a bunch of Chinese guys. Everyone was floating around. It was all just a bit surreal really. At the very end, Quentin came up to me and said, "I'm Quentin. Nice to meet you." I was just like, "Hi. You look really familiar. I know you." And the rest is history. It's amazing.

A2W: How did you make the transition from stunt person to actor?

ZB: I'm still doing it. You take a bunch of acting classes. I've taken a bunch at Larry Moss, and I'm also training with a woman called Caitlin Adams.

And that's just purely a confidence thing because I've always been a loudmouth. But I'm accustomed to being the loudmouth behind the scenes because no one's really watching. I'm the little go-engine. Like, "Everybody's in a good mood, and we're happy!" And suddenly, I'm having to remove myself and say, "I need ten minutes to get emotional." And I need to be sexual in front of people, and I need to be emotional in front of people. I need to cry in front of the crew. I'm like, "Wow. That's kind of fucking frightening. It's way more scary than throwing myself off a building."

The hardest transition actually was when people say, "What do you do?" And saying, "I'm an actor." That's been the hardest thing for me. It's just weird. I don't know what that's about, but I'm figuring it out.

A2W: Do you have any advice for other aspiring stunt women?

ZB: Don't ever compromise your relationships with the men in your professional lives by involving so much sex. I mean, if you want to screw someone because you want to screw them, do what you like. But don't be using it as a way to get jobs. Not that I've done it, but I've watched a lot of people do it. I do the opposite. I'm like, "Hi. I'm a guy. Let's drink beer and fart."

I would also say be determined, be gutsy, and be able to say 'yes' to as much as you possibly can. But always have the balls to say 'no' if you know that you're going to get really drilled, or if you can't do the work. I think people say 'yes' to way too many things.

You've just got to know yourself, and know what you're worth, and know where you're going, and know that you can always, always learn more.

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