Zoë Bell

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Zoë Bell was born on November 17, 1978. She is a stuntwoman and actress from New Zealand. She was the double for Lucy Lawless on Xena: Warrior Princess (1998-2001) and for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003 & 2004) As an actress, she appeared both on television and in feature films. She starred as the lead in the Crackle web series Angel of Death (2009) and she is probably best recognized for playing herself in the Quentin Tarantino film, Death Proof (2007).

Zoë grew up on Waiheke Island in Auckland, New Zealand. As a youngster, 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.

Bell began her career in 1992 when her father, who is a doctor, treated a stuntman for a head injury. Her father came home that night and gave Zoë 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, Zoë was the stunt double for Lucy Lawless. She fractured vertebrae in her back doing wire work 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.

Lucy Lawless and Zoe Bell

Though she was initially hired as Thurman’s “crash and smash” double, the stunt team realized Bell would also make an ideal double for fight scenes. This required additional training for Zoë because she had to learn to fight in the wushu style.

Near the end of filming for Kill Bill: Volume 2, Zoë 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. After production wrapped on Kill Bill, she received “The Bells” sign which hung outside the home of the Vernita Green character in the movie. Zoë later gave it to her parents.

Tarantino was so impressed with her work in Kill Bill, that he cast her in a leading role in his next film, Death Proof (2007). She played herself in this movie and she performed her own stunts. Her most notable stunt in Death Proof (2007) occurs when she hangs onto the hood of a speeding 1970 Dodge Challenger.

Zoe Bell

After Death Proof, Zoë did stunt work for the movie Catwoman (2011), in which she performed high falls and acted as a double for Sharon Stone.

In 2004, the documentary Double Dare (2004) was released. It focused primarily on Bell and veteran stuntwoman Jeannie Epper, as it followed 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.

In 2005, Bell was nominated for a Taurus Award 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 (2004). Her Best High Work nomination was for a fall of over 200 feet in the film Catwoman (2011).

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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. 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 Gamer (2009), starring Gerard Butler; the movie was later renamed Gamer.

Zoe Bell in Angel of Death
Zoe Bell in Angel of Death

Bell was a guest star in the fourth season of Lost (2008), 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.”

Zoë Bell starred alongside her former Xena colleague Lucy Lawless in Sony Crackle‘s web series Angel of Death (2008) which debuted online in early 2009.

Bell also played a medical technician who moonlights as “Bloody Holly”, a roller derby star, in Drew Barrymore’s 2009 directorial debut, Whip It (2009).

Zoë appeared alongside Wesley Snipes in Italian director Giorgio Serafini’s thriller, Game of Death (2011). She can also be seen in the music video of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ 2012 single ‘Dream On’.

Zoë Bell will once again be working with Quentin Tarantino as the stunt coordinator in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) and she will play the role of th stunt coordinator in the film which is to be release in July 2019.

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