The Lucy Lawless Information Page



Sunday Mirror

18 April 2004

Inside story: `I fell for Uma Thurman' Not many people would want to be a body double for Uma Thurman, but stuntwoman Zoe Bell had no worries about slipping into her Kill Bill jumpsuit.(Features)

Byline: Words: Deirdre O'Brien.

Zoe Bell thinks it was destiny that led her to Kill Bill. `I was on holiday in LA when I heard they were holding auditions for stunt people for Kill Bill. I thought I'd f**ked up my chances though, because I'd been training in the morning and worn myself out. I'd fallen over a lot, so I was bruised. But I later found out that's what got me the job. Quentin Tarantino liked that I was tough.'

A professional stuntwoman, Zoe, 25, started her career in her native New Zealand, in Xena: Warrior Princess, doubling for the star of the show.

`I'd done gymnastics for eight years, and martial arts for two, but I didn't have any particular experience,' she says. `To begin with, I was pretty much being kicked around by Lucy Lawless, but I was there for three years and learned a lot.'

So when she went for Kill Bill, Zoe had never even been to an audition. Many of the famous cast were there, but Zoe wasn't intimidated. `Quentin was there, and Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah and Vivica A Fox. But it was all too surreal for me to be nervous. Quentin thought I was really freaked out, so he was trying to put me at my ease, but I didn't really register that I was in the company of such huge stars until later on. Then I thought, "How did I get here?"

`Quentin is really cool. I've seen all his films, and I've always thought he's great. He's exactly like that in real life as well, kind of geeky and goofy, but really enthusiastic and passionate - he's go-go-go all the time. He's nuts, but refreshing nuts, not annoying nuts.'

Two days after the audition, Zoe found out she had the job. `Originally I thought all I was going to have to do was fall and hit the ground. But as time went on, they decided I was capable of more. I'm 5ft 8in and 101/2 stone, so although Uma's taller and slimmer than me, I could just about get away with doubling for her in other shots.'

The real fun started for Zoe when the cast and crew decamped to Beijing, China, to work with the martial arts choreographer and film director Yen Wo Ping, a legend in China and Hong Kong, and the man behind the stunts on The Matrix films. It was here that Zoe started doing more and more of Uma's stunts.

`Uma really impressed me with how willing she was to do stuff. She's not as good as Lucy Liu - now she is really excellent at fighting - but she's not bad. You can see how much she did herself by how many shots her face is in. She did a lot of harness work, like the big fight scene in the first movie, and a lot of the balcony falls herself. I never saw her turn anything down because she was too scared - they wouldn't ask her to do anything really dangerous, that's what I'm for - but sometimes she'd get exhausted and I'd step in.

`My favourite stunt is the fight in the snow garden between Uma and Lucy at the end of the first film. It took ages, but it looks awesome.'

It was also in China that the cracks began to show in Uma's marriage to Ethan Hawke. Zoe says it was clear all wasn't well. `It was obvious she had stuff going on, and she'd also just had her baby, so she wasn't hanging around the set or socialising as much as some. But she was really friendly when we were working.'

Quentin Tarantino has dropped hints that he and Uma had an affair while filming. `We love each other. We had our life together on Kill Bill. It was like a marriage in every way,' he said.

So did Zoe get the impression the director was obsessed with his leading lady? `Yeah, at times, but never to the point where I thought there was anything dodgy going on. He talks about her being his muse, and that's a nice way of putting it.

`What I can tell you is, Quentin likes to party. He loved going drinking with the crew. We were such a long way from home, doing 16-hour days, there was a summer camp atmosphere to the whole thing. That's where I got together with my boyfriend Nick, one of the camera crew. There wasn't really much of a hierarchy on set, but that's because the stars themselves were all easy to work with and really good fun.'

Michael Madsen, who plays Budd, was a favourite of Zoe's. `Michael is one really cool guy. He's a lot like the characters he plays - he's got that cool husky voice and the same slow way of talking. He was great to work with, too. Sometimes with stunt work, actors are like, "I don't want to hurt you", and are too afraid to use force, so you end up having to do five takes. But we did a stunt where he had to throw me out of the back of a truck. I said to him, "Just do it", and he didn't mess around, he just hurled me out. It was great.'

Although Kill Bill was relased in two parts, it was shot back to back - the crew didn't know they were making two films. After China, they moved on to Mexico. But Zoe had to stop after she injured herself.

`I was being blown up during an explosion, and I missed the mat and hurt my wrist. I damaged some ligaments and had to have pins put in. Quentin sent me a big bunch of flowers and a Vegemite sandwich to the hospital. My mum had been sending jars of Vegemite over from New Zealand and I'd introduced him to it - he went crazy for it.'

So Zoe's time on Kill Bill came to an abrupt end - and she didn't even get to keep her yellow jumpsuit as a souvenir. `I didn't mind though - the whole thing was such a blast. It was my first big movie, and I met my boyfriend, so I don't need a jumpsuit to remember it by.'

Kill Bill: Volume 1 is out to own and rent on DVD and video from tomorrow (Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc)



`I did three years on Xena: Warrior Princess. I got to know Lucy Lawless really well - she's a cool chick, we got on brilliantly. But then that all came to an end, and Xena was killed off.'


`I doubled for Sharon Stone, who plays Laurel Hedare, the arch enemy of Catwoman (Halle Berry). So I got to play the bad guy, which was great. Sharon Stone is nuts, but I really liked her. She was very respectful. So many actors don't even think you might have your own ideas, but she would come and ask me, "Well, you're the expert. What do you think?"'