CHLOE MORETZ ON BALANCE
By Crash redaction
CHLOË GRACE MORETZ HAS COMING OF AGE ON HER MIND RIGHT NOW, AND NOT JUST BECAUSE SHE’S HIT SWEET 16. SINCE UTTERING PRETTY GROWN UP FOUR LETTER WORD IN 2010’S SUPERHERO FLICK “KICKASS” (IT STARTS WITH A“C”, AND SHE WAS 11 AT THE TIME), MORETZ HAS SHOWN AN ON SCREEN MATURITY AND ACTING CHOP SHE NEEDS TO TACKLE EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX ROLES WHILE PRESERVING HER YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM FOR LIFE. SHE’LL TAKE ON THE ROLE OF CARRIE IN THIS YEAR’S REMAKE OF STEPHEN KING’S TWISTED TRIBUTE TO ADOLESCENT OUTCASTS. AND WHILE VICARIOUSLY LIVING OUT THIS TRAGIC TALE OF FEAR AND POWER, MORETZ HAS BEEN MEDITATING ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ACTRESS WHILE BECOMING A WOMAN WITHOUT LOSING HERSELF.
Growing up in show business has destroyed as many lives as it has made careers, but Moretz is determined to prove it can be done with grace. The young star’s secret lies in “finding that middle ground, where I can grow and discover who I am, but also where I can be the girl on the red carpet—it’s trying to find that balance.”
With the spotlight always on, she confides, “You never really have that time to go through an awkward stage.” She’s no stranger to the paparazzi, who are fascinated by the precocious, take-no-prisoners persona she projects both on camera and off, but she manages to stay remarkably level headed under the glare of the flashbulbs, especially considering some of the trouble her peers have gotten into recently. “You have to reach a level of appreciation to let that in because if they don’t want to take a picture of you or have your autograph, then you’re not succeeding in what you love.” Yet no matter how composed she tries to be, Moretz can just imagine someone clicking through a roll of film, trying to snap an unflattering shot to go with the inevitable USWeekly headline: “Stars are late bloomers too!”
It would be a stretch, though, for anyone to call this member of the Young Hollywood brigade a late bloomer. With an impressive list of acclaimed roles under her belt, including Kick Ass, Let Me In, Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning Hugo, and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, the talented teen has seen a tidal wave of early success. Better she find smooth sailing—avoiding what she calls the “tainted” aspects of the industry—than risk getting dragged under. “The spotlight can get crazy and dark really fast,” Moretz says, “but I think as long as you calculate yourself correctly, you keep ahold of your emotions, and you don’t keep bad people around you, you’ll be good.” She’s careful not to Google herself because, as her mom taught her, “if you believe the good, you’ll believe the bad.”
Her dedication to acting—and her sense that this is what she’s meant to do—also keeps her from getting swept away by some of the more frivolous aspects of celebrity (read, dresses and drama—she can get into the dresses but not the drama). Part of her process, part of coming into herself, she says, is “figuring out what inspires me, what makes me tick.” Most teens lead rich fantasy lives—which usually revolve around hitchhiking out their one-stoplight town, or getting asked to prom, or, best yet, becoming a member of the Young Hollywood club—but Moretz goes beyond daydreams. She steps into someone’s shoes and tries on their life, whether it’s her fantasy or not. “I like that I can go play characters like Carrie and do these dark emotional things. I think that because I’ve explored all those emotions already I have no reason to be that rebellious teen.” But she’s still a kid, she’s adamant about that—when you spend your working hours playing dark, broody characters, like Moretz does, you want to cultivate a little humour in your personality: “I still watch Rugrats and Spongebob, you know, because I love that escape.”
For all the mentions of her goofy off screen personality—“I’m always tripping over air and falling on my face at home, making a fool out of myself”—the girl takes herself seriously, and hopes Hollywood does too. She seeks something that strikes a chord when she reads a script, “something that makes me want to be the character,” she says, and she won’t settle for a connection that isn’t there. “I get really bored if I’m not working; I get crazy, crazy bored. But I’m also that girl that’s like, look, I’m not going to go do a crap movie just because I’m bored.” Moretz works hard, pursuing risky, challenging roles that generate plenty of controversy, as did her sometimes-vulgar, violent portrayal of Hit Girl in Kick Ass. She did her own stunts for both the original and the upcoming sequel, Kick Ass 2, spending months in training. The shock value of this pint-sized fireball cursing and killing was what worked for most—and what misfired, for some.
But the character of Mindy resonated with a pre-teen Moretz: “she’s this young, kind of confused girl who doesn’t know what’s going on. She’s thinking, am I a villain or am I a vigilante? It’s this switch personality.” For a girl effectively living two lives, juggling a public and private persona, there are good lessons to be learned: “at the end of the movie you see the characters merge together, and they realize there isn’t a Hit Girl or Mindy, it’s Hit Girl and Mindy. You see Mindy be that awesome, crazy Hit Girl character in Mindy clothes and you realize, I don’t need a mask or a wig or crazy makeup to be someone. I am my own entity. I can be who I want to be, you know.”
Moretz appreciates the strength Mindy finds in herself. The character speaks to what she believes about empowerment, “about overcoming what’s set in front of you, what people say you can’t do. That’s what I do every day.”
She’s used to dealing with criticism, and resourceful enough to have deep reserves of her own strength. The public discussion of female beauty tends to get, well, ugly, and Moretz sums it up nicely: “You’re never enough for someone somewhere and I think that as women, we’re already put behind a gun. When a man gets fat, it’s funny—but when a girl gets fat they write you off the list.”
Carrie tells a darker coming of age tale than Moretz’s own, but the terror and helplessness felt by her character is universal in nature if not scope. Moretz describes it as “a mother-daughter struggle, a very serious struggle between religion and life and love and sex and coming of age.” Factor in a few bullies, and we have every adolescent’s perfect storm of angst. “It’s a very heightened idea of coming of age, but it’s what happens,” she says. “Obviously at the crux of it, it’s this really rad telekinetic thriller, but what immediately excited me about Carrie—it’s not just another horror flick, it’s this brilliant, dark but sweet, beautiful piece of art.”
Only fifteen when Carrie was filmed, Moretz brings all the immediacy of her innocence and experience to the role. As so often happens, she didn’t want to see a 26-year-old playing this sweet, naïve girl who is “willing, yearning to learn about life.” The part felt like it was meant for her because, she says, “I still remember when I first got my period. I’m still learning who I am and becoming a woman—I’m not just sort of remembering what it’s like.” And despite the undeniably extraordinary life Moretz leads, she’s still just a sixteen year old who hasn’t had time to get her driver’s license. “It’s the same kind of thing every girl goes through, just in a different arena,” she says. The power of this coming of age narrative is why Carrie keeps getting remade—growing up is tough, and damaging, and it resonates with every woman to see the archetype of her struggle expressed on screen, even at such extremes.
Despite her youth, Moretz is fervent about using her power as a role model to shed light on the struggles of the human spirit. From her on screen work in films like Carrie to her growing interest in philanthropy, she’s acutely aware that “we [as actors] come from a place where we can influence others, and if we don’t use our power for the better, then we’re misusing it. I want to show people what’s going on in the world outside the US, outside this little bubble we’re in.” Besides her remarkable stage presence and her surprisingly grounded perspective on celebrity and adolescence, Moretz appears to have empathy in spades.
One of her favourite new projects is Girl Rising, directed by Richard Robbins. The film tells the stories of nine young women from around the world who suffer much worse than, as Moretz puts it, whether “oh my god, gas prices went up, or my sink isn’t working today.” Narrated by some of Hollywood’s most respected actresses, the project puts Moretz in the company of Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek, and more—as well as one of her idols, Meryl Streep. Each woman offers her voice to a girl, and Moretz tells the story of Yasmin, from Cairo, who “went through all this horrible stuff but overcame it by believing she was a superhero, that she is stronger than what happened to her.” When Moretz speaks of her Egyptian counterpart, the admiration in her voice is evident: “I’d love to meet her. I would love to talk to her, to learn from her and see the strength within her. She is one of the strongest women I’ve ever seen.”
For her part, Moretz believes in the power of the fairer sex. As a teenager still in the throes of transformation, she’s just starting to get a taste of her potential as a woman. To her critics, she says, “You may tell me, no, I won’t succeed, but we [as women] come from a point where we jump at something. When we set our sights on something, we go at it, we don’t stop, we push all of our energy into something we love. We don’t half anything.”
Interview from Crash #65
PHOTOGRAPHY Doug Inglish
FASHION James Worthington Demolet
TALENT Chloë Grace Moretz
MAKE UP Francesca Tolot
HAIR Gregory Russell
DIGITAL TECH Maxfields Hegedus
Special Projects Editor Greg Krelenstein for Starworks Group