The Last Exorcism's Ashley Bell Talks Cruelty-Free Makeup and Getting Physical On Set
Ashley Bell is best known for her roles in horror films like The Last Exorcism (The Last Exorcism Part II opens on March 1) and The Day, but this actress is far from the scary, demonically possessed girl we know on the silver screen. In fact, Bell is a bubbly fashion fanatic with a taste for British labels and cruelty-free makeup.
Bell has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an MTV Movie Award, but she keeps a pretty low profile. That's probably because she's always working! In the past year, Bell has been filming a handful of projects (look out for The Marine: Homefront, The Bounceback, Sparks and Chasing Shakespeare), including her own documentary Love and Bananas. She's even doing some voice-over work with NBA superstar LeBron James for his animated series The Lebrons. Who would have thought?
We got in touch with Bell to talk about her busy life and the exotic places her work has taken her—from the red carpet to Cambodia.
Lucky: How do you decide what to wear on the red carpet?
Ashley Bell: For me, what's most important when I go out is being comfortable and being true to myself and my aesthetic. I love a clean, classic, all-American, timeless style—style that can last. One of my favorite looks, at The Killers premiere, was a Dolce and Gabbana dress that I thought was absolutely beautiful. I loved, loved wearing that dress. I tend to stick to pretty clean styles.
You do have such a refined style. What was it like to have a wardrobe covered in fake blood, sweat, and dirt for films like The Last Exorcism and The Day?
AB: For me, it's great to be able to transform into a character I'm playing. With these films, it was very important for me to be sure I was physically making a change. Makeup-wise for The Day, starting out they were painting bruises on me, but by the end of filming they didn't have to paint anything on anymore. I like getting physical with the role. I like getting involved. I like throwing myself into what I do. I kind of consider any bruises I get on set to be war wounds. I'm proud of them.
In between filming, what do you do to de-stress?
AB: I take a lot of ballet. It's very important for me to continue to work out and learn something new in between the roles I play so I can keep on bringing something new to the characters. For me, what's kind of meditative is doing ballet. I love the workout. I love the grace and elegance.
Is that really you on the movie poster for The Last Exorcism Part II? How did you get into that position?!
AB: I did it myself. It was really cool because in the first film I did all of my own physicality and stunts. There was no CGI used—and going into the second film it was important to be true to the character and do it all myself again. So when the poster came along and they called me and said, "You wanna come in and shoot the poster?" I said, "Hell yes!" So I did it myself. I have a stress fracture to prove it. It was painful, but this was the role of a lifetime. I can officially say I bent over backwards for my role.
Did you watch a lot of thrillers growing up?
AB: I did—I'm a huge horror fan. My summers were spent watching horror movies with my dad. I think it's led to an incredibly overactive imagination. I'm scared of the dark.
Tell us about Love and Bananas, the documentary you're directing and producing.
AB: I recently got back from Cambodia. The film is about the rescue and transport of two Asian elephants from an illegal logging facility on the Cambodia/Vietnam boarder and their transport to the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary. Getting a chance to stand next to these elephants and hug them and touch them, you realize that they're such gentle giants. It's very important for me to give a voice to these animals that have been abused. They need someone to fight their fight and I hope this brings awareness to the issue. This is my first time directing. It's incredible. I studied directing in college—and working with elephants is amazing because they never forget their lines!
Where are some of your favorite places to shop?
AB: I tend to gravitate towards English brands like Burberry, Reiss, and Ted Baker. It's very important for me, wherever I'm filming, to pick up a little trinket wherever I go. I always pick up a bracelet from whatever city I'm filming in. Every time I see it on my wrist, it brings back such good memories. In New Orleans, I would go antique shopping and find these beautiful Edwardian bracelets. In Cambodia, I picked up a lot of local scarves and local bracelets.
I love Ralph Lauren. I love Armani—those clean, structured suits. I think they're so beautiful. Tom Ford is a huge designer for me. I think his work is absolutely exquisite. And a Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo is so epic. One day, I'll wear a tuxedo on the red carpet and that'll be my favorite look. A very feminine tuxedo.
Photo Credit: Lucas Passmore
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