Bell was born in New Zealand to Tish and Andrew Bell. She has a younger brother named Jake. She grew up on Waiheke Island in Auckland. At a young age she participated in competitive gymnastics, and at the age of 15 quit to study tae kwon do. She also participated in high diving, scuba, track and field and dance. Bell attended Auckland Girls' Grammar School and Selwyn College.
Bell began her career in 1998 when her father treated a stuntman for a head injury and came home with a phone number for her to call. Her first stunt job was jumping out of a car in a New Zealand soap operaShortland Street.
She began doing stunts for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess (both of which were filmed in New Zealand); by the fourth season of Xena, she was the stunt double for Lucy Lawless. She fractured vertebrae in her back doing wire work on the show, but continued working for a week until another stunt in which a breakaway chair was smashed on her back and incapacitated her.
After Xena, she did a number of small films and TV stunt work, including stunt coordinating in a short film with Adrienne Wilkinson (with whom she had previously worked on Xena). She then went on to double for Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
Though she was initially hired as Thurman's "crash and smash" double, the stunt team realized Bell would also make an ideal double for fight scenes and she was trained accordingly. Bell had to learn to fight in the wushu style. Near the end of filming for Kill Bill: Volume 2, she injured her ribs and the ligaments in her wrist while simulating being thrown backwards by a shotgun blast. Bell required surgery and spent several months recuperating. After production wrapped on Kill Bill, she received "The Bells" sign which hung outside of Vernita Green's house. She later gave it to her parents.
Tarantino was impressed with her and cast her in a leading role in his next film Death Proof, in which she plays herself and performs her own stunts, the most notable of which occurs when she hangs onto the hood of a speeding 1970 Dodge Challenger. She also did stunt work for the movie Catwoman, in which she performed high falls and acted as a double for Sharon Stone.
The documentary Double Dare was released in 2004, focusing on Bell and fellow stuntwoman Jeannie Epper, following them as they attempted to succeed in Hollywood. The filming of Double Dare covered Zoë's career from the end of Xena to the beginning of her work on Kill Bill: Volume 1. In 2004, Bell and Angela Meryl (Vivica A. Fox's stunt double) were nominated at the Taurus World Stunt Awards in the categories "Best Overall Stunt by a Woman" and "Best Fight" for their doubling of the knife fight between Beatrix Kiddo and Vernita Green in Kill Bill: Volume 1.
In 2005, Bell was nominated for a Taurus in the categories "Best Overall Stunt by a Woman," "Best Fight," and "Best High Work." She and Monica Staggs (Daryl Hannah's double) won Best Overall Stunt and Best Fight for their fight in Budd's trailer in Kill Bill 2. Her Best High Work nomination was for a fall of over 200 feet in the film Catwoman.
In August 2007, Bell confirmed she had signed to play the lead role in a film about an American soldier returning to the US from a tour of duty in Iraq, and helping a young girl in trouble. She told the New Zealand Herald she would do her own stunts in the as-yet untitled film, and that the American accent was "a big challenge". In October 2007, Variety reported that Bell would also be in Game, starring Gerard Butler.
Bell is credited as a guest star in the fourth season of Lost and played the role of the freighter teams radio contact, Regina. She has said in interviews that the role requires a little acting and some stunt work. She appears on screen only in episode 7 of season 4, "Ji Yeon."
In 2008 Zoe stars with her former Xena colleague Lucy Lawless in Sony (Crackle)'s new web series Angel of Death written by Ed Brubaker set to debut online in early 2009.