New Zealand’s No 1 stunt woman and action hero Zoe Bell is taking a feather out of her mentor Quentin Tarantino’s cap. The 38-year-old has just wrapped filming mixed martial arts-action-love story-drama The Haymaker, which she is producing, action-directing and in which she features.
It is the directorial debut of visual effects’ artist Nick Sasso, who is also one of the indie movie’s stars. The Haymaker follows a retired Muay Thai fighter (Sasso) working as a bouncer, who rescues an alluring transgender performer (Nomi Ruiz) from nefarious thugs, eventually becoming her bodyguard, protector and confidante.
The relationship leads Sasso’s character to make an unexpected return to fighting, risking not only his relationship, but his life.
The cast shot earlier this year in Thailand, Greece and LA, with completion taking place in Brooklyn, New York, last week. Watching the Mayweather v McGregor fight in New York with boyfriend Jacob Horn gave Bell the right vibe for finishing her filming.
“I get a lot of action scripts that don’t have much story and heart but this has both. And the film is less about the pop star being transgender than it is about the love story,” she told Spy.
“I play a character called Rosie who’s the lead character’s coach. The nice thing is that it’s not a big deal that his coach is a female, but I really dug the way the character is written. In addition to being a producer, I’m also on board as the action director and consultant.
“When you’re working with real fighters, there’s a whole retraining that needs to happen because the art of screen fighting is quite different to the art of actually trying to knock someone’s block off. We are trying not to knock blocks off because we need to do a take two.”
Bell is in the best shape of her career and MMA has always been part of her routine.
“I force myself to maintain a level of fitness because otherwise I find that as I get older I can still do everything, but the days following are less enjoyable if I’m not conditioned for it.”
Bell enjoyed her time directing All Black coach Steve Hansen in the Armageddon-style Arnott’s commercials and will be back later this year to make the short film version.
Bell did a shoutout on Facebook this week to tell the general public they too could audition to help her bring biscuits back.
The directing bug has bitten Bell, and becoming a Hollywood powerhouse woman behind the scenes looks likely.
“I’m also developing two feature films and a TV show. That’s how it works over here — you are constantly creating and developing and working with people in the hope that eventually those projects get off the ground.”
Meanwhile, the multi-talented Hollywood gal is also very excited about looking at starting a director’s course through the American Film Institute.