JUNGLE RAZE: A Word With CAMINO Star, Actress And Stuntwoman Zoë Bell
Ahead of the release of the new survival thriller, Camino, we had a chance to speak with actress and stuntwoman Zoë Bell about the film which reunites her with Raze helmer Josh C. Waller, her transition into being an actress from stunts, and how she prepared herself for the role Avery Taggert in the film.
You can listen to it by clicking here, or feel free to read the following text transcribed for your convenience. And to Ms. Bell, thank you ever so much for a wonderful conversation about your work!
Film Combat Syndicate: Did you ever consider going into acting when you first started doing stunts?
Zoe Bell: No, I didn't. I found the stunt world and I was like, "Woohoo!"FCSyndicate: [laughs]
ZB: This is what I wanted to do in my life. Though I did drama in highschool and Mum and Dad bought me acting classes with a well known acting coach in New Zealand with the intention of helping my stuntwork. Actually, that was really wise of them in hindsight. There would be times I would consider what it would be like acting as the characters I was doubling but mostly because I was greedy and territorial and thought how fun it would be to take this character and create decisions for all of it; but it never really occured to me as a career choice. Maybe it was I was too scared to or maybe I just never thought about it like that.FCSyndicate: I was wondering since the tone of the movie was pretty intense and dark. For your character to be vulnerable both emotionally and physically, how did you translate that for being a fearless stuntwoman?
ZB: I think the myth of me not having any fear is a misconception. I really enjoyed playing Avery because she's closer to me than people think. She's a capable, intelligent woman but she's never had to run for her life. She's never beaten people up, she's never taken lives; and Zoe has spent her life acquiring skills but skills in the world of faking it, you know? My whole career has been a series of me playing make believe. Make believing that I'm that terrified or that hurt or that strong. So when I was playing Avery, I felt as though that this was a very honest character because that would be me. That is how I would be if I were stuck in a jungle fighting for my life; I would be that person. I'm technically well equipped but never actually had to be mentally ready for real. I felt that her struggle then fed directly into the action.
For me, one of the challenges that I wanted to be conscious of was when Avery started to fight, or jump, or run. I wanted her to not look like me, because me doing those things would be too coordinated as I've done those things a whole lot. I wanted her experience to physically translate to film.
FCSyndicate: Yeah, actually, that reminded me of that one scene where Avery had this sudden calm wash over her when you can feel her character mentally decide that she had to survive.
ZB: Yeah, yeah! Ooh, you gave me goosebumps! Yeah, that was an awesome part! We knew that there had to be a transition somewhere and it happened so naturally on set. What was happening in Avery's head was, if a crazy man pinned you down like that, it could turn into rape of worse. I think that is a primal fear for a woman and at that point, when it became a possibility for her, that's when you decide to fight or give up. When I was being Avery at that moment, I thought, "This is it. This is my only moment."
It was that decision of I have to kill this man. There was a moment before she stabbed him but was like, "I need to get rid of this guy, get him off my tail," but it became that if I (Avery) needed to survive, this guy must die. I must be a killer and that makes a great transition.FCSyndicate: Right, that was really an awesome scene! So when you say that you're feeling the moment for your character, Avery, did you do anything different to prepare for this role?
ZB: I did a lot of preparation, but it was more like I wrote a backstory for my character. That's where the research comes in but that's where the awareness of how she (Avery) would react to the situation rather than how I would react to it which hopefully makes it more truthful and hopefully means that magic does happen and the audience feels it happening to her. Rather than me saying, "I'm going to make this moment happen," we do the research to prepare her for her journey to take her to a certain place. Josh and I were aware that would be an important moment for her, though I can't remember exactly when we decided that; but we used the plot as an emotional track and the little moments in between where Zoe gets out of the way and we get just get into Avery.FCSyndicate: How long was the actual filming? And where did you guys actually film?
ZB: We filmed in Hawaii right after Christmas and we rehearsed for a week and spent New Years there. Josh was directing and his brother was one of the producers and we worked on Raze before so we had this whole family thing going on. So after that, we shot for a week before I was called back for Hateful Eight since their schedule shifted.FCSyndicate: Oh wow, that just clicked in my head. You were Six Horse Judy!
ZB: Yeah, yeah!FCSyndicate: Haha, sorry for interrupting you there!
ZB: [laughs] That's okay! Oh I forgot what I was thinking, oh right! So they shot for ten days, but I left after the first week. We came back five-to-six months later to shoot the last half of Camino, so overall it was about 3 weeks of shooting.FCSyndicate: Oh wow, so was that difficult? Putting a character on hold for a few months then going back right into it?
ZB: It was...definitely a learning experience for me since I never did it before. I never immersed myself in a character before and put it away then come back to it again. I could have used more preparation the second time around than I expected, not that I didn't do any the first time, but I still feel like I wasn't in her skin for a while. I got there again but if this happens again, I know my lesson now.FCSyndicate: So before you go, are there any other projects coming up that we should looking out for?
ZB: Well there is this sci-fi movie coming out called Paradox. There are others that are super early in the works so I don't want to talk about them just yet but one I'll be producing will be in a TV show that I'm interested in.FCSyndicate: Thank you so much Miss Bell for talking with us today! Definitely would love to see you more in leads!
ZB: I would love to see myself in there more! Thank you!
Camino is now playing in select theaters and arrives on VoD and Digital HD on March 8! Paradox opens theatrically on April 15 and on VoD and iTunes on April 19.