by Staci Wilson
Hard to believe it's been so many years since I did the press junket — for Horror.com — of Grindhouse, and interviewed Tracy Thom and Zoe Bell for the first time, regarding their roles in the Quentin Tarantino segment, Death Proof. All this time later, the two ladies are still working together, and still loving it. I caught up with Zoe on the set of Raze, her latest, which she is also producing.
Staci Layne Wilson / Horror.com: So is this correct… When Raze first started out, it was a little series of shorts? And now you have seen it grow into a feature… did you ever think that was going to be the end goal?
Zoe Bell: I think you'll get quite different answers from all of us involved. Weirdly were all sort of on the same page. But I think we may have had a different subconscious understanding of it, because at one point, it was going to be a Web series. In my head, this was a short that I was going to produce and sort of come in at the end and do a cameo and we were going to try and get something to happen. But there was a possibility of something happening out of it. We talked mostly about Web series and in my head, as we were shooting, I remember coming to work one day, it was like a three or four going I feel like this could be a feature. I don't know where the idea came from, but as I brought it up, no one had talked about it with anybody but it kind of felt like we had already kind of had that conversation I don't mean to sound fatalistic, but it was more like, should we do we? It was more like one of those things. And then we sort of got interested in heat and people were referring to it like a feature and release dates and set and we were like oh yeah. Well apparently, everyone was thinking like that and it just took us a little while to catch up. But it's been so, I hate this word, Hollywood has ruined this word for me, but I think quite an organic process in the sense that it's not like we got this idea and were going to make it a movie then are going to have to put our heads up against heaps of walls and people have been saying no you can't, which makes me look bad sometimes I think that has a bigger story, we stand in the face of adversity and to make it happen anyway. And we were just like all these people are asking for it, maybe we should write it. On that note, we have definitely made our first year of amateur, I wouldn't say mistakes, but “learning from” moments. And hopefully we don't do the same thing quite in the same way again. And we definitely had differences of opinion. And we struggle with all the same stuff that everybody does. When you're working with a bunch of different human individuals, and we're all very individual, you could almost write a cartoon about us and have caricatures of each of us. Like Kenny is kind of a silly grumpy ”I used to be a boxer “ and a bad ass and Beaucage is is sort of a brooding artist of the lot. I'm just a bit of a spaz and I guess the tits of the group. And [our director] Josh is sort of the charismatic pitch guy. He charms people and talks a lot and while wows everybody and somehow we all kind of meet in the middle in making a video or an action film about women killing each other.
I'm sure that you are offered a lot of physical roles and that's where you come from basically but now you get to really act as a producer how much do you take for yourself as far as the lion share and how much do you give to others?
Zoe Bell: Right - as a producer, I want all the lines in the movie. I'm going to have all the dialogue. I want to do all the fights and I want nine credits all for myself.
That's kind of a bit of a challenge too.
Zoe Bell: You know, it's really not. This character, she really doesn't speak that much. I'm not particularly talkative. The situation isn’t really conducive to conversation or speeches at least not for the ladies.
You have no soliloquies in your cell?
Zoe Bell: I do have sort of a monologue. A kind of a chink in my armaments moment, and that's about as much talking as I do. This is easily the most challenging acting chock that I have taken on and so regardless of dialogue or attention, she's just a cool character and the other characters have grown around Sabrina. Since we first wrote it and then we wrote it again and we've wrote it again, even since we have been shooting like those characters have flushed out. And I am all for it. I want the Sabrina character to be surrounded by other amazing characters, because you could be shooting a movie in one room of the house and if you've got amazing characters, you'll still be interested to watch it because that's why reality TV works. They're all in one house and they never fucking leave but it's just a bunch of apparently interesting people quarreling and shagging and doing interesting things and people get addicted to watching it. In fact, there have been times as a producer I'm like “God, one time when I produce I definitely want to be not acting in it, because I have to take one hat off and put the other hat on and my skill set at this point in time is more apt to be an onset producer”. Just because I've lived on the set for so long, that's where I've actually discovered that I know some stuff. It's kind of nice figuring out that, you know, what you know. You know?
So, Sabrina is she the center of all these women and she's trying to stage an uprising? Or do they want to get out?
Zoe Bell: I can't really give too much anyway, I mean I can, I don't want to. To be more truthful, she is sort of the one that you as an audience may want to follow. So were all in the same shit situation dealing with the same shitty people and limitations and threats and danger and misery and every other woman is dealing with exactly the same thing. It's like with any movie at some point you're following someone through the story, because if you followed everybody it would get a bit convoluted. I feel like to say anything more sort of starts giving away. Normally, I tend to wiggle on and branch off and Beaucagewill be like. “Just say you can't say anything”. I'll talk for like half an hour. I still want to know you what's happening in the movie.
OK, so… what does your character go through.
Zoe Bell: Well, my character definitely goes through it sort of serious when you first read a horror script and basically it's like you kidnapped me. And you're forced to kill or be killed. You're like okay, so the art of that is, where we’re start and finished I've done heaps of work on it in the beginning. But I sit here and I think each woman has a different art. When you're put in a situation where you have to fight for your life or you have to fight for the life of your loved ones. Or you have to kill someone or you have to give up your life. There is some pretty pivotal emotional moments in a woman's life that normally don't present themselves as black and white as that and my character made a decision when she was a young child that she sort of has been a little bit in denial of most of her adult life and is forced to face it. Coming of age sounds ridiculous, but it happens. I think to lots of women in Normal life is you have sort of your 30s. And you sort of understand you're an adult woman. And that there are maternal things that come with it and there's excepting certain things and decisions and shit that you've done when you were younger. And it's made you who you are none of this is written in the script by the way. It's not like we have this deep meaning between jail cells, but the art of it is who did you choose to be in the face of adversity. And I think each woman goes through that in each woman ends up becoming different butterflies. And they're not all pretty, there's a giggly ones up in there in terms of the horror. It's sort of a weird thing that obviously there is amazing fights. There's endless fights and people die in all the fights and you get various types of mutilations.
Are they allowed to fight with weapons?
Zoe Bell: It's all bare hands and you find out sort of the basic reason for that towards the end it's all bare hands and it's all exactly in the same arena. So it's not like you're suddenly fighting in the jungle with ninja stars. I think one of the things that people are going to find most horrific about this movie is not the scary bad guys. And it's not the blood and guts and broken bones. I think, to be completely honest, it's gonna be the emotional horror of the situation that's just gut wrenching and then on top of that you add blood and all of that stuff. And I really think that it's not Mortal Combat. There's a lot of reason that there's action movies out there that are exactly what they are, because that's what you want to watch. But this movie is rooted so deeply in what it must feel like to actually be in there. That's such a girl way of looking at things, and it is it's all women.
So you think this will appeal to a female audience?
Zoe Bell: Absolutely, I do. I really do and I'm not just saying that. The women who have read the script and the women that are involved are excited as women, not just as actors, but I think that the weird thing is that kind of, because you know you're used to seeing men having to fight for their lives or for their families or for redemption or revenge and killing people and being like God, that was uncomfortable. I'll do it again, but you never really see the terror that happens. When you take a human life, unless you're a serial killer and to have it translated through a woman's experience makes it just that much more gut wrenching. Holy shit women don't generally speaking go to bars to get drunk to look to pick a fight just to exert some kind of grip. That's just not how we seem to have to find a place in ourselves. It's disturbing it's horrific. I'm really glad that I have the ability to leave that shit it at work when I go home at night. I think that has a lot to do with the rest of the cast and the crew too.
So are you guys almost finished shooting now?
Zoe Bell: Yeah. My mom and dad are arriving four days before we wrap. I'm going to have them be extras in the banquet scene. They're going to be at my table. You'll figure out a little bit later why that's a little bit twisted, because you just go day to day and were working solid days and lots of them. And you have people like “what day are you doing”? I don't actually know what day it is today. Was it Monday yesterday? And suddenly I'm like, if we’re on day 22, that means we got to pass on next week. And that means that my mom and dad arrive on Tuesday and you know, we started the movie and we were like “holy shit, here we go” and suddenly it's like were well over half way through and were on the home stretch to having completed shooting an entire feature film. A really fucking cool one!