IFC Midnight released Raze in select theaters January 10th and it’s now available on VOD platforms (iTunes etc…) everywhere. The movie is BRUTAL. If you’re comfortable with pummelings this is the film for you.
I recently hopped on the phone with star Zoe Bell to talk about capturing that brutality on camera, as well as the sense of camaraderie onset and the modesty and work ethic she brings to her acting roles.
“Stuntwoman-turned-action-star Zoe Bell (Death Proof) headlines this sly subversion of the women-in-prison genre. When Sabrina is mysteriously abducted, she finds herself in an underground lair, forced to do battle with other innocents for the amusement of unseen spectators. Each of these reluctant warriors has something to lose, but only one will remain when the game is done. Violent and relentless, Raze takes its video game aesthetic to the deepest and darkest places, rarely surfacing for air.”
Listen, by virtue of me being me – I’m a strong, intelligent, independent woman who kicks people’s ass for a living – even if I didn’t want to be a feminist I couldn’t help myself. I’m not even offended, I just think [that criticism] is hilarious. It’s really fascinating to watch people’s reactions, it’s not like they’re making it up. I’ve come to the conclusion it depends to your stance on life in general.What you’ve been exposed to.
What got you onboard the film?
Definitely [director] Josh Waller. He’s been a friend of mine for years and we have very similar sensibilities about a lot of things and ironically I think one of the things we have in common is our since of humor, which is funny because there’s so little humor in the movie – but we both laugh at the same spots. When I came onboard the script was a short, it wasn’t yet a feature so it was more the concept that I was intrigued by. It was Josh, the concept and the collaborative creative potential of the team.
There’s a lot of action in the film, a lot of it is pretty brutal. I imagine your stunt work fed into this a bit?
There was one day in particular that I found hard. Once you’ve been Sabrina in this movie, or any of the women in this movie, for enough days in a row even if you weren’t used to fighting it would be exhausting. The situation that these women are in is harrowing and it just sucks. The journey these women are on. I hit a wall at one point during a fight, it wasn’t a massive fight but I had hit a story point where Sabrina passes out. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t find the character enough to find the exhausted Sabrina. All I had to do was pass out and I just couldn’t get it. My job is to keep going and going and going and the one time my job is just to pass out and I can’t do it – what does that mean?
There’s a big ensemble in a relatively cramped space. What was the vibe like on set?
There’ s a lot of juxtaposition. It was a small space with a lot of women in it, but it wasn’t often that you’re sharing the space with anyone unless you’re beating them up. We’re in our cells, it’s not often that we’re sitting face to face feeding off each other. But we were all pretty much onset all the time so even if we weren’t being used there was a since of camaraderie. because it was such a hard, challenging workload, we were all in the same boat. The vibe onset wasn’t somber but it was definitely quiet and serious.
You come from the stunt world, but here you’re creating a living breathing 3 dimensional person.
Well, first of ll than you very much. I do have a tendency to undercut myself but that’s not just because I’m being modest, it’s that thing all New Zealanders are inherently born with. But it’s that way of thinking that probably helped the performance because I worked my ass off. I was just spending hour upon hour upon hour with my character and figuring out what her story was. Where she came from. What her Mom and Dad were like. All of that stuff, I knew the shoot would be hard and there was a lot resting on my shoulders. The least I could do was turn up as prepared as possible. If I screw it up then, then I’m just bad. But if I screw up because I’m not prepared, that’s just rude.