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Hell’s Belle

Ashley Bell is back as Nell Sweetzer in this month’s The Last Exorcism: Part II

Ashley Bell

Thanks to a breakout role in 2010’s hit horror film The Last Exorcism, Ashley Bell has been known to take her “scream queen” status to extremes. “I got swarmed by a group of teenage girls on opening night and we had a scream-off,” says the 26-year-old actress, whose film took in nearly $70 million worldwide at the box office and earned her a prestigious Independent Spirit Award nomination. “They started screaming because they were scared to death of me and I was screaming because I was so excited to be recognized for the first time.” Raised in the San Fernando Valley, Bell is the offspring of thespian parents. However, her path to the big screen was all her own. “Going through high school in L.A., I was awkward and self-conscious and got pretty badly bullied. Theater was a safe haven for me to express myself and to hide in characters.” In this month’s The Last Exorcism Part II, the actress revives her role as the possessed Nell Sweetzer.

What can we expect from this movie?
It’s almost a coming-of-age story. [Producer] Eli Roth found a way to spin the genre on its head. The expectations are high, but he wouldn’t do a sequel if it couldn’t be completely innovative—and scare the holy hell out of you.

I understand you took ballet classes to master the role’s intense physicality. Do you still?
When you work on flexibility, you don’t get injured as much. I take ballet two to three times a week at a small place in the Valley. It’s an incredible workout and wonderful skill to have. I’m a little late in the game, but I recently went en pointe. I go there with my mom and without my makeup on.

What’s something we’d be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a big animal rights person. One year for my birthday, my dad took me to the farmers market in Santa Barbara. We went to a crab vendor and bought all of their crabs—two huge bags’ worth. My dad said, “We’re going to set them free.” We went down to the shore and let them out into the ocean. It’s become a yearly tradition.