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That’s always something I’ve wondered about your work, because clearly there’s feminist films along the way. There’s Death Proof and Whip It, for instance. But I wonder if that’s just part and parcel to you being the stunt woman that you are, of course you’re getting those kinds of movies.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I think being the producer on this film, it’s come up for me a lot, and I think what I discovered is just by the nature of me being the person I am and being who I am in work, and the way I work, and the kind of work I do, means that I just am that person. It’s sort of I represent that just by being it. I’ve never felt the need to get on a soapbox about it. I never felt a need to fight for it. I’ve never felt the need to. And don’t get it twisted, there have been times where I’ve had to be like, "I know I have boobs, but I can still do this, so you should hire me," but I don’t feel like I’m fighting for the right to be, I’m just like telling you, "Treat me with the respect that I’ve earned, regardless of boobs or not." I’m not fighting to be treated like a dude. I don’t want to be treated like a man. I want to be treated as a talented stunt-person, or I want to be treated as an intelligent person.
Being a producer on this film, how did that change the experience of making the film for you, versus the other films you’ve done?
I just, it meant that I was way more hands-on and I was far more involved in the collaboration and the creative side and I loved it. I loved that being a part of the story-telling team was massively satisfying for me. It kind of bled through, my creating Sabrina kind of bled into it a lot. I didn’t write the script, by any means. It’s not my story, but my opinion--like I always have opinions--I’m a very opinionated individual, but it was really fun to have my opinions be heard and bounced around and either accepted or rejected. And it was fun to have other people put their opinions in front of me and have the option of playing around, I don’t know. I just really enjoyed the creating part. It was really satisfying.
Sabrina is grimmer, more somber character than I think the role that most people seem to know you from is Death Proof, where you obviously play a version of yourself. Was that something that was important to you to show your range as an actress?
Yeah, it was sort of, I have to give credit to Josh on that one really, because he’s always had it that I’m capable of a lot more as an actor than I knew and therefore everybody else knew. So, he was very much like, I want to see you pull this stuff out of your hat. I want to see you showing people that you can act. I was like, ehhh, which is works for me, because the minute I’m responsible for somebody, I step up, and yeah, it was really important for me to--not even to find a role like this, but when it presented itself to me, to say yes was important.
How did you get into stunts to begin with?
I’ve always had a fascination with gymnastics, since I was a kid. It was the one thing at the Olympics that I would be like, "Mom can I stay up late to watch gymnastics?" It was the one thing she would let me, and I got into gymnastics when I was about nine, sort of competitively, and I did it until I was fifteen, which was when I was too old, because that’s the truth of gymnastics. I started doing martial arts and I basically met people through both of those worlds, who turned out to be stunt people, and to be honest, it hadn’t even occurred to me that stunt people existed outside of Evel Knievel, like daredevil types. It never even occurred to me that film crews existed. They were just videos in my video store that I watched and the video store just dropped them off. So, when I found out that these people were literally paid to perform and fight and flip, I was like, "Really, God, did you invent this job for me? Is that what happened?"
So, that was sort of, I got really excited about it and then I started talking about it a lot, and met people, and got phone numbers and just kind of put myself out there, due to my dad, basically. My dad was like, "You should just make this phone call, because you could wake up tomorrow exactly the same person you are now, or you can wake up tomorrow a stunt girl," and I was like, that’s really tempting. He came home with the phone numbers, because he was a doctor and a stunt man came in with a bump on his head and dad found out he was a stunt man, and he was like, "My daughter, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah..." and he came home with the phone number.
I’ve seen Double Dare, obviously. It’s funny, because it does sound like your whole story could very well be its own narrative film, even in the form of Whip It!. Like this girl who took this chance becomes her own hero. That’s really cool.
(Laughs) Yeah, that is cool when you say it like that.
Raze opened in limited release on January 10th.
Check back later this week for more from our interview with Bell, in which she talks about her mysterious Django Unchained character, the potential Expendabelles project, and why she hasn't appeared in a Fast and Furious movie yet.
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