Zoë Bell was already famous in certain circles when she got her big break as Uma Thurman’s stunt double in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1, but as far as the rest of the world knew, she didn’t exist. As the documentary Double Dare illustrates so vividly, in Hollywood, you can be a key player in a major role and still be a relative unknown.
Bell had been toiling in front of the camera but behind the scenes as Lucy Lawless’ stunt double in Xena: Warrior Princess. Filmed in New Zealand but popular around the world, the series went on for years, affording Bell the long-term gig that most stunt doubles never find.
Double Dare follows Bell as she attends Comic-Con, thrilled that fans recognize her as Xena’s double, but it also shows her reaction as the series ends. The loss of this high-profile, high-voltage job impacts her sense of purpose and even her sense of identity.
Bell meets veteran stuntwoman Jeanne Epper, and they develop a mentor-student relationship. Epper was a ground-breaking, bone-crunching pioneer in the world of stuntwork, doubling for Lynda Carter in the 1970s series, Wonder Woman.
After Xena ends, Epper encourages Bell as she tries to find new jobs. We see incredible behind-the-scenes footage of Kill Bill in pre-production, including Bell auditioning for Tarantino at a dojo. You’ll feel her pain as she tries time after time to “stick the landing” of a martial arts move in front of the director but fails again and again. Despite the rocky audition, she gets the job, and her life goes into overdrive. It isn’t until the end of Double Dare that the audience learns that Bell was seriously injured during the filming of Kill Bill, and you’re reminded that stunt work is a truly treacherous profession and not for the faint of heart.
You become so invested in the lives of Epper and Bell that you feel as if you know them by the end of this gripping documentary. You may even Google the two of them after you’ve finished watching, as I did — kind of like catching up with old friends you don’t even know. Epper and Bell are that engaging, and the film is that engrossing.
If you haven’t seen Double Dare, rent it. You won’t forget these ladies: tough as nails and real to the core.