New Zealand-born actress ZoÃ« Bell began her career as a stuntwoman, working as a double for Lucy Lawless on "Xena: Warrior Princess." She followed that up by doubling for Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill," and her first major acting role came in Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof." She later briefly appeared as Regina, a member of the Kahana's crew, on TV's "Lost." But now Bell has been given the opportunity to star in her own film, entitled "Angel of Death."
Published in installments on Sony's Crackle.com since March 2 and ending on March 13, "Angel of Death" stars Bell as an assassin named Eve who's stabbed in the head. She suffers severe brain trauma, begins to hallucinate, and becomes haunted by her victims, forcing Eve to seek revenge on the Mob employers who ordered those hits in the first place.
"Angel of Death" was written as a vehicle for Bell by comic book scribe Ed Brubaker ("Captain America," "Criminal") and also stars Lucy Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess," "Battlestar Galactica"), Ted Raimi ("Spider-Man 2," "Darkman") and Doug Jones ("Pan's Labyrinth," Hellboy II: The Golden Army.")
ZoÃ« Bell took a moment to talk to CBR News about her new film, acting opposite Lucy Lawless, the pressure of starring in her own movie, and what it's like working with Quentin Tarantino.
CBR: How did you get involved in "Angel of Death?"
ZoÃ« Bell: My manager at the time and I had been in conversations with Sony about doing a bunch of online-type stuff. It was all a bit vague but they got back to us about a year later. There was a basic breakdown of Eve and her character and something about it just intrigued me. I can't even remember what it was but I was just like, "Oh, that would be fun. I want you to respond to that one." Then I came in for a meeting with a bunch of the guys, Paul [Etheredge] the director, John Norris our Producer and Ed [Brubaker] was on speakerphone in the room. They all just seemed patient and they all had a similar idea of what they wanted and it excited me. They were equally excited about me as they were about Ed and as much as Ed was about me and I was about Ed. We were like, "Really, are we all this happy to be in the same room? That's weird, lets make a movie."
Were you familiar with Brubaker and his comic book work previous to being cast in the film?
I wasn't really but they sent me a bunch of stuff before hand. More for me, I was excited by his presence in this world. I'm not a comic book geek. I'm not and I'm kind of embarrassed to say it, I wish I were a comic book geek. I'm definitely far more educated [on the subject of comics] than I was when I first got here. But the fact that someone who was so raved about wanted to rave about me was pretty exciting stuff. But that was it. It just felt right. It just felt like everyone wanted to do it and I knew it would be an incredibly awesome challenge for me and that's what I wanted. I hadn't had that in awhile
What was your reaction when they told you this would be an Internet project?
I thought the concept was interesting, but to be honest, I didn't really understand what that meant. People would say, "What does that mean?" Fuck if I know? I didn't have a clue but I loved the script and I loved the people that were involved. To be honest, for me if I'm going to start acting -- you know, I've been a stuntwomen for so many years, so stunting for me was like, if the coordinator is someone I want to work with or if the work that is required of me, the action is cool then those are the jobs I want to be doing. It's the same with acting. If the team that is involved, the writer and director are fascinating to me, than I want to work with those guys, you know? If the work itself is fascinating, the character is stunning or the script, even if it's a little character, than that's what I want to do. I don't give a shit if it's on the Internet, TV or the big screen. It sounds cliche but that's not really why I'm doing this.
This is your first lead acting role in a movie. What was that like for you and were you nervous at all?
Scary! If I suck, then this whole project will suck. I mean, I remember thinking that a bit about "Death Proof." I wasn't playing myself because I don't ride on cars but Quentin [Tarantino] wrote it so I'm like the "Quentinized" version of myself. I wasn't really given enough time to think about it like that. It was just like, "This is it. You're doing it, okay?" This one was like, I'm not an assassin, my Mother was not a whore, my Dad did not teach me weaponry, I've never lost my mind and I've never seen dead people, so this is as different from my life as can be. I did a lot of research. I tried to think what it would be like if you were losing the persona that you used to be sane. Maybe it's like an alcoholic becoming sober? Day to day it didn't scare me because I was working and doing my job. It's not until now that I start shitting my pants.
You were Lucy Lawless' double on "Xena: Warrior Princess." What was it like acting opposite her in this project as opposed to essentially playing her on the show?
It was pretty cool, yeah. They wrote in a role for Lucy and wanted her to be involved. I never asked her outright but I get the feeling that she was just doing me a favor. I mean, there are a lot of people in her position, and we've always been fairly tight you know, we really like each other but there's a lot of people that may not have wanted to have done that as a favor. I just think it was really a fucking sweet gesture on her behalf and it was so fun working with her on set.
But yeah, it was completely bizarre and yet it didn't feel that bizarre, it felt very natural. Obviously, we're comfortable with each other on set, we're used to being around each other. But to be sitting opposite her doing lines was like, "Wow." And at one point she said to me, "ZoÃ« ZoÃ« (that's what she calls me) this is not our characters, this is me and you, this is Lucy and ZoÃ« ZoÃ«, we're right here." I was like, "This is awesome. Lucy Lawless is giving me acting lessons." It was a real moment.
What was it like working with your other "Xena: Warrior Princess" cast member, Ted Raimi, and also Doug Jones on this project?
I love Doug Jones and working with Ted again. Ted was there on my first day and thank God he was because internally I was a bit of a mess. But having him, a familiar face, around was good. Doug Jones just cracked me up continuously. I just wanted to hang out with him all the time. I was just like, "Sit by me and say stuff." They were all so supportive of me and so excited on my behalf, not giving me room to fuck it up, feel sorry for myself or get lost. It was great.
How did you get the part in Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof," which helped launch your acting career?
"Kill Bill" is where it started. There's also a documentary called "Double Dare" that Quentin had seen. He told me that he'd shown people the documentary and they responded to me on camera or my character. His whole point was that he wanted my character in a movie. But I was like, "It's not a character, bro, it's me. Nobody's scripting this." He said, "Oh, yeah? Watch me." That's how that came about. I really look forward to working with him again. I wanted to be in "Inglorious Bastards" but I'm not a guy and I don't speak two other languages. "Damn it. If only I had been born a man."
Finally, a lot of your fans were really excited when they heard you were going to be on "Lost." What was that experience like for you and did you enjoy working on the show?
My part was so tiny. Initially, it was going to be a small role and I wasn't going to do the episode. We always knew it was going to be a small part and I had reservations about doing it. They contacted my manager and he was stoked. I was stoked but part of me thought, "Maybe I should hold out for a bigger part?" Ultimately in the end I got to work with Jeff Fahey ("Lawnmower Man") who is one of my favorites, surf in my down time, live in Hawaii for a week, get paid and meet incredible people. And everybody on that set was so nice, well they do live in Hawaii, but I walked off that set and I just wanted to work with those guys again. So you never know?
"Angel Of Death" is now playing on Sony TV's Crackle.com with the finale premiering this Friday, March 13.