Fighting for Recognition in a New Field
New Zealand stuntwoman Zoë Bell’s film Raze is screening at the Imperial Theatre as part of the one of the most influential genre film festivals in the world, the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, which runs through 7 August. Bell is a creative producer and star of Raze, a brutal tale of a group of 50 women who are kidnapped, imprisoned and forced to fight each other to the death.
Bell is famous for throwing punches, kicks and taking hits for Uma Thurman throughout Quentin Tarantino’s epic Kill Bill series. She also starred as herself in Death Proof, the director’s contribution to the 2007 double-bill, Grindhouse. And she stood in for both Mélanie Laurent and Diane Kruger in Inglourious Basterds.
Bell is choosing her projects carefully these days, which means turning down stunt work, “simply so that I can be taken more seriously in my new role as an actor who can carry stuff.” She has been rewarded, here and there, appearing as herself in an episode of television’s Gossip Girl; opposite Wesley Snipes in Game of Death; as Tall Witch in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters; and resistance soldier Kara in the Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion.
But it’s not easy. While she’s clearly got the talent, Bell has learned that it’s hard to change people’s minds once they’ve put you in a box. “I’m having to really fight for it,” she said. “It’s disheartening. I know I’ve got all these qualities. Doing things like Raze, having fought for it, makes it that much more satisfying.”
Bell, 34, was born in Auckland.