Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death
Raimi the Mighty
the stars of Angel of Death walk into the room, the
air fills with the sound of camera clicks. Even digital,
they still have that strange shuttering sound. So Ted Raimi
whips out his camera and starts shooting back. "See how
YOU like it!" he says with a smirk. "I'm going to Twitter
this right now!"
Zoe Bell and
Doug Jones just laugh. This trio clearly has a lot of affection
for each other, smiles and teasing coming easily. You'd
never know they're here to promote a taut and violent action
piece starring Bell as an assassin haunted by her amoral
For Raimi, it
was a lark. Already a well-established character actor,
his brief moments in Angel of Death won't mean much
in the greater arc of his career. But for Bell and Jones,
this marks a turning point of sorts. Both are Hollywood
pros transitioning into a new phase. As Eve, Bell continues
her journey from top stuntwoman to action star and perhaps
more conventional leading lady. Jones, master of his lanky
physicality, gets the rare chance to show what a gifted
actor he is without hiding behind latex or CG effects.
"When you have
a career of twenty-three years under prosthetic rubber,"
Jones says affably, "to take that off and to come out on
film like this is rather a vulnerable feeling. The difference
is like walking out of the house in a sweater, and walking
out of the house in a Speedo. Both are legal, but in the
Speedo you're like oh, gosh, are the neighbors watching
me? But then you get to the pool and everything's okay.
That's what it's like for me."
"I know that
analogy!" Bell agrees, her soft New Zealand accent giving
her anxiety a lilt. "It was like that working with Lucy
(Lawless)…in three or four years of Xena we were
rarely on the set together, and then suddenly she's (in
a scene) kneeling down with a pair of pliers and I'm thinking
'when did this happen?'"
Bell knows Ted will be Ted.
then continues, "I don't want to get all mushy about it,
like 'she taught me everything I know.' It's not… I was
her stuntwoman. She wasn't giving me acting lessons when
I was 18. But I watched her on set and I really appreciated
and respected the way she was on set, and I think that translated
to me as a professional."
They shot swiftly
under director Paul Etheredge, a production of three weeks
with a budget of, as Bell puts it with a pinky to her mouth,
"one meeeeellion dollars." Raimi jumps in to note that it
was the most Sony had ever spent on an internet production,
as Angel of Death began as a serial on Crackle.com.
The studio had expected one million viewers, but Raimi proudly
adds, "as it happens, they got five million."
it felt like a real movie," Jones says, helping Bell as
she articulates the differences between this and other shoots
she has worked. She finally just laughs, "we had a lot of
really talented people for really cheap!"
Raimi also notes
that the money seemed to make it to the set. "Look! Real
craft services!" he jokes, causing rueful laughs from both
Bell and Jones as they remember other productions. Jones
sighs with relief, "and we had trailers instead of gas station
Jones: "...you get to the pool and everything's
a nod from Bell. "That's the joy of casting someone like
me in the lead," she says, "instead of someone who has a
name. The money that might be going to my pocket actually
goes to craft services. And I'm glad that it did, because
I'm a big fan of eating and water… I love free water."
Of course, it
wasn't just the free food that brought these three to the
project. For Raimi, it was simple. "The first A.D. (Assistant
Director) called me up, she's an old friend of mine, and
said 'there's a movie I hope you'll do. My movie.'" He laughs,
"What do I do? She says, 'you come in for a day, you get
tied up you're in a trunk, and then Zoe Bell blows your
brains out.' I said, 'it sounds like every day I worked
on Xena. Sure I'll do that.'"
reminisces, "When I went to the first meeting with the people
that were already involved, I walked out and went 'holy
s**t, that's the kind of thing I want to be involved in.'
was very serious about this role.
want to be involved in something where the character's fascinating,
the storyline is clever, the people involved are smart and
passionate and genuinely want this thing to happen in the
same way I feel about it. Whether it's TV or movies or web
was irrelevant to me."
wanted this role so much she enlisted an acting coach to
help her tap into the necessary resources for Eve. Once
she got past the audition, the project still daunted her.
first day of shooting was the scene with Ted in it," offers
Bell. "I was feeling the challenge and the pressure of the
first day of leading this thing, just knowing that he was
going to be on the set put me at ease and it felt familiar."
The two smile
at each other, and Raimi turns to us. "What's gratifying
for me to see after so many years is that she carries a
picture really well. She has wonderful leading lady qualities
and she's going to be a big star, I think. Enjoy this one
on one with her while you can!"
It's hard to imagine any of them putting on airs. Bell scoffs
at the thought, "Oh, yeah, Shakespeare is next. I'm going
straight to King Lear. I'm gonna be King Lear."
turns serious. "I think for me, action is obviously something
I'm comfortable with, and I love it. I'm not unhappy with
that being a prospect. I just feel there's a niche there
that wasn't before."
I love the idea of comedy, comedy totally appeals to me.
After Angel of Death, I'd love to do more Drama."
"I'm open to
anything, but I understand that to build a reputation and
less of a risk factor for the people that are putting money
in, action's where it's going to start for me and I'm hardly
going to complain about that."
of Death, Raimi's prediction doesn't seem that far-fetched,
and let's throw in that Jones' opportunities should be growing,
too. Angel of Death is now available on DVD.