by Staci Layne Wilson
I first interviewed Chloe Moretz in 2005 when she acted in the controversial remake of The Amityville Horror. It was on the red carpet at the premiere, and I remember asking her if she would be allowed to stay and watch the show. She said no, but that she loved scary movies. She was a cute little girl, but to be truthful I couldn't have predicted she'd be the future face of horror. Shortly after her appearance in Amityville, she was in Room 6, Wicked Little Things, and The Eye.
Moretz took a genre break for a few years (but I still saw her stuff, especially liked her in Dirty Sexy Money and 500 Days of Summer), but came back in full force with another remake, Let Me In (Swedish to English translation: Let The Right One In) last year. This year, she's got Texas Killing Fields and has completed filming a feature version of the old Dark Shadows TV series with Tim Burton directing. "He's always been my favorite director," Moretz told me. "He's always been a dream [director] to work with. And then when I got a call saying that he wanted me for his movie, I was like… wait. I was like… what? Helena Bonham Carter and Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton? I was like, 'Oh yeah, maybe. Let me see if my schedule is clear." She laughed, described herself as a fellow 'weirdo' and being that helped her feel welcome on set.
"I'm a really weird person, and me and my brother Trevor, we come up with a lot of weird ideas so to have a director like Tim just open his arms and say, 'You know what, because you did that, that's amazing, and I love you for that' because a lot of actors will be scared to do that and the actors that aren't scared is Michelle and Helena and Johnny these characters that are able to come up with things that not a lot of people can think of. So yeah it's interesting."
Q: You describe it as interesting, but is it ever difficult?
Chloe Moretz: When I was younger. When I did Amityville horror, and I had to cry. It was my first movie ever and I had to cry. I had to think about things in my personal life. That allowed me be able to do that. If there was something really close to me that if something happened to that I was able to bring that emotion out but now since I'm older, and more cognizant of my emotions, I know how to wrangle them and play with them. It's pretty easy for me now and easy to break out with the too, because I'm going through a time where you have so many emotions. And they are just everywhere, so it's easy for me to be able to just break down and cry. It's just simple. I don't know it's hard but when you're with the right director and you're with the right actor. And you're in the right situation and mindset you're able to do it and it's hard to explain, because it's just a thing that happens.
On top of the emotional performances and range that you have, you do a lot of very physical demanding roles also. Do you beg to get to do all the stunts and things yourself?
Chloe Moretz: I do. I absolutely love doing stunts. I actually kick ass. I have four older brothers, and it's been one of those things where if you want to play, you're going to have to learn to play and whether that means getting hit with a baseball when you're five years old. You've got to learn to play with your family. Otherwise you're going to be left behind. So from a young age, I was always throwing the football or something, but also, I always loved dress-up and be a little princess at the same time. So yeah, I love doing stunts. And I love doing action and I love being able to do like I can do it. You know, and being able to prove to the stunt person that I'm not like just another actor. I can actually do it and act at the same time hopefully and so I have fun being able to go crazy. Which I'm not able to do in everyday life. Right, mom?
Mom's ignoring this.
Alright, so about Texas Killing Fields, which is a very bleak drama about a series of serial killings… what did you take away from the experience?
Chloe Moretz: From a personal point of view? I am very blessed to have a normal life. Definitely. With every movie I grow emotionally every movie is a steppingstone in my career and I'm able to learn more things from it and I think in this film. I learned that I think it's being able to portray that outer wall, but also being able to show in your eyes that you're not as strong as you are an almost being able to fake it. But trying to not fake it. You know what I mean? So it's like this weird mix of yes and no, which somehow works well so I think being able to find that medium definitely.
You talk a bit about how much you enjoyed the physicality of performances, but I have to imagine that directors and production companies have to be very protective of their actors. So are you ever wanting to do more than they let you do?
Chloe Moretz: Yes I am actually on Dark Shadows. I worked with Eunice, who is Angelina Jolie's stunt girl. And of course with Angelina she is like “I want to do everything.” So Eunice gets to chill out most of the time and just choreograph it. She kind of compared me to Angelina, which I was like obviously. Which I loved. Yeah actually on Dark Shadows there is this one scene where I'm fighting Evergreen, who is the witch and I'm fighting her in my secret thing. And I get thrown against the wall, which is like 45 feet up. And I was dying to do that, because I did practically everything except for us to stunts in that scene, which was flying against the wall, which was like the funniest. But then when I saw it happen I was like oh, I don't want to do that but I was like begging Eunice I was like Eunice. You know I can do it and she was like” Chloe, I would put you in that situation, believe me, but insurance will not allow me. I'll lose my job, and I'm not doing that.” And they were like” you're only 14 calm down”. So yeah, I definitely have a couple situations where I'm like I can do it. You know I can but then you'll see the stunt person get hurt. And you're like well that's the reason that you shouldn't do it and you have to at some point you say, you know what, I'm not as trained his you are and I need to let someone else do it for a change.
Does mom ever step in and say, no you're not going to do that?
Chloe Moretz: Yeah, if you do a big stunt, while I'm rehearsing it she'll see it and she'll go through everything shall say; “Now how does this work? How does this work? How does this work? Now if this fails, you have something else that will pick that up?” And if it sounds weird, or just way too much. She will be like “no I don't want to put my child in that situation”, because she's also a nurse practitioner. So she's like Snap, I'm a nurse. She is my mom; she doesn't want me to get hurt. That's the last thing she wants to happen. So the first thing she will be thinking about is I want my daughter to be safe. So in every situation, she's always looking out for my best interest.
So mom trumps Chloe.
Chloe Moretz: Always 150% of the time, which is annoying.
Mom: Did you record that?
Chloe Moretz: She's a good mom.
So besides Dark Shadows, what else do you have coming up?
Chloe Moretz: I have Scorsese coming out November 10th and then Dark Shadows coming out May of next year. I have a couple of films that I'm going to be doing in January after taking this fall off for the first time. I'm taking a little break.
Chloe Moretz: Oh no, of course of course school. Yeah. Can you imagine, I take off school and it would be like no big deal they would come and arrest me know? Definitely doing school still. Of course. And I am actually taking this fall off for doing press for these films which I haven't been able to do, because whenever my press comes out, I'm having to work. So I'm actually taking off time and doing this Hugo press and do the press for the movies that I need to do, because I never have time to do that. So I'm going to do that and then in January, I'm going to pick it all back up again and get back on the road and focus on high school for a second to, because I'm a freshman.
How about Emily The Strange, are you still going to play her?
Chloe Moretz: Yeah, actually they're finishing up the script and everything to it. I don't know exactly when that will go, but it will be next year.
How about Hugo? I'd really like to know what it was like for you to work with Scorsese.
Chloe Moretz: I think definitely one of the most amazing things is being able to work with Scorsese. I think definitely that was one of the most mind blowing things is to be able to work with the director who is one of the most iconic. He is the most iconic living director right now. Like he is the epitome of directing. So being able to go onto a movie at 13 years old and just being able to work with him is a dream. So, that was really special and Tim definitely. I like Tim. They are all so collaborative and I've been really blessed to be able to work with directors, who don't pigeonhole me and they don't treat me like I'm five years old. They treat me just like another actor, which is a lot to ask for from a lot of people. So to be able to be treated normally like you're not a little kid and to be just being able to talk to its special. And so I've been really blessed to work with directors that have only treated me like a normal person.
You were only 12 when you shot this film, Texas Killing Fields? How did you prepare to play a girl in such trouble and jeopardy?
Chloe Moretz: Actually, me and a bunch of the other people in the cast [prepared together]. We went to the safe house in the middle of Louisiana. And basically that's how we prepared, by meeting these people that… there is one lady there when she was little and she did something right, her family would give her pills and meth as a reward. So, basically, that alone was just a lot take in and be like wow, I'm really blessed. I took their mannerisms and adapting too. So I was only 12 and I'm only 14. I haven't lived a lot of my life. So I don't have much to pull from, but I have to make it up.
You've played a lot of dark parts. You've been a vampire. An abused child. You've been in horror films. What is it that provokes you at such a young age with these darker situations?
Chloe Moretz: I think it's fun for me to be someone who is not me. Because again if I'm living in, if I'm playing a role that's Chloe 2.0, which is just normal and a normal 14-year-old girl who doesn't really do much. It's not fun. So you want to play a character that is crazy and messed up and you can pull all of these emotions out of you that you didn't even know you had and push your emotional limits, just break down every wall and being able to pull out of that is a lot of fun for me. I mean, I don't know. I like acting.
When you pick a role, does your mother or father read the script?
Chloe Moretz: Yeah. Yeah. Actually, my brother Trevor, who is my acting coach. They read the script before I do. So basically whatever we get sent over. They don't send it straight to me. They read it first. And they go through it and pick the bad stuff and that good stuff. And they go, you know what I like this. I like this, I like this. And they send it to me, and they go here Chloe, read this. Tell me what you think about it. And then, if you like it or not, tell me and if you like it we'll go after it. And so basically, I’ll read them and then if I like it, then we'll chase it, whether that means going on a meeting or auditioning or, you know, doing whatever you have to do to get the role that you really want. Yeah.
What do you make of the relationship between your character, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character?
Chloe Moretz: It's a special relationship because I think it's very unspoken throughout the whole movie, because I think she's the girl that needs to be loved. And he's a guy that needs someone to love and I think because he's able to father me almost in a very weird way. He's able to father me. I think that gives him something and also it allows me to be the little girl that I need to be because throughout my whole life as that character she has always been not really loved or loved in a really weird way from her mother and used almost. So I think that someone who just loves her for her and for her being a young girl. I think it’s special.
When you have a situation like this where you have to talk about and promote a film quite some time after you've made it, how does your perspective change? Are you able to look back on it and be objective?
Chloe Moretz: That's a good question. I don't know, I mean, I am pretty critical of myself. I'm really critical like if I watch a scene I'll be like. I could've done that better or I should have done that better. But if, I think I'm really good in a scene of be like I kind of think of myself like, the third person of be like "oh, I like her" and then oh wait, it's me. But it's not so I have to think of myself in not being Chloe, and I just have to stay in character. So I say like she was good in that scene like the character was good in that scene. And that was a really good beat between the two characters, I would do that. But if I'm like oh, I was amazing there.
So out of everything that you have done, what scene or movie do you think you really knocked it out of the park? I mean, is there one?
Chloe Moretz: All of them. [laughs] No I did Hick that premiered at the Toronto film Festival, and it got a lot of mixed reviews. But I don't know if any of you guys saw it but I thought that I went to places in that movie that were really dark for young girl. I was pushed to my emotional limits in that movie, which I loved, because I was able to express emotions and go to emotions that you don't have. And you're able to pull them and make them up and go with it. And then to have a director like Derick [Martini], who is, I mean… Yeah people gave him weird reviews, but I believe that after working with Scorsese [he will be huge]. And that's why he is Scorsese's protégé; like, he worked with Scorsese and Scorsese is his teacher. He's just like him, and being able to work with the two of them. I was really able to compare their things and how they're so collaborative so if I'm doing a scene against someone. And it's my close up, he'll say something to the opposite actor, and it will be little things about someone who in my actual life has Chloe Like some boy or something, and so basically in the middle of the scene, he'll throw something at me like that, he other actor will, and it will be just like a curve ball and you're like, what? What did you just say? So it gives you these natural things. And I think that in that movie, it was one of my best performances, but I hate saying that about myself.
But you are in third person so...
Chloe Moretz: But she was really good in that movie. She was amazing. I love her. [laughs]
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