Published in Lionheart Magazine, issue 2, summer 2012. Original article here.
Cool kid Chloë
Swagger, talent and a thirst for exploration through acting is why Chloë Moretz is a star in the making. Jessica Furseth talks to the Hollywood actress about ambition, confidence and listening to your mother.
She has a lot of sass for a 14-year-old, that Chloë Moretz. She rocks up with buckets of smiles, a cocky-cute “how you doing” and she’s just so cool – there’s no other word for it. I meet the teenage actress in London during the promotions for Martin Scorsese’s film ‘Hugo’, where Chloë plays sheltered Paris girl Isabelle as she embarks on a much-longed-for adventure. But the Chloë sitting in front of me in the flash hotel suite looks much more grown up than the beret-wearing child on screen. An elegant hair bun is paired with dark-checked trousers and a grey blouse, with her silver nail polish perfectly offset against chunky heels in the same colour. She speaks with a broad American twang; earlier that day Martin Scorsese praised her for being a joy to direct, with an English accent so spot on he thought she was a native. The verdict is in: not just a pretty face, but good at her job too.
“It’s such an honour to have worked with Marty, he’s a living legend,” says Chloë, kicking back in her chair. She’s conscious of not seeming ungrateful for the chance to work with Scorsese, but then again, why wouldn’t she be chosen? After all, she’s good. “In acting there are so many people telling you ‘no’, but I look at them and think, well you say ‘no’ now, but next year I promise you are going to want me for your movie. And almost every time I’ve done that it’s come true: they have come back wanted me!”
Chloë laughs easily, drawing you in with the occasional geeky grimace. Listening to her describe Scorsese makes it clear she sees him more like an uncle than a hero: “He’s an amazing guy, he’s so funny! He makes everyone feel comfortable, everyone’s on the same playing field. I think that’s why he gets such a good vibe in his movies.” The role of Isabelle is probably the closest Chloë has come to playing a girl like herself, after previous experiences of playing a vampire in ‘Let Me In’ and a potty-mouthed superhero in ‘Kickass’. Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’ is due shortly, where Chloë plays a girl with a “dark secret”: “I look for something where I really connect with the character. If I can’t put down the script, if all I can think about for the next few days is how I want to play that character, that’s the kind of movie I’ll do.”
Chloë lives with her mother and four older brothers, and it’s clear that little sister’s career is a family project: “My brother Trevor and my mother read all the scripts that come in, and if they like them they send them to me. The we make a group decision on what’s not only the best decision for my career, but also for me as an actress.”
It’s easy to forget the young woman sitting in front of me is only 14 years old. Not that she tries to appear older, in fact she seems very aware of her youth. “I’ve seen [Scorsese’s] ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Gangs of New York’ but my mum still keeps me from seeing ‘Taxi Driver’. Even though the others are also 18-rated, that’s over my head in a different way. It deals with things I can’t exactly grasp at 14. Which I don’t like to admit but I have to.”
Chloë has worked as an actress for half her life now, starting out by reciting monologues in the playground. “My mom would get calls from school asking, why is your daughter talking about killing someone?” She laughs. “That’s how I got into acting, and I begged my mom to let me do it. Of course I didn’t know what acting really was, just that it was fun.”
And it’s still fun: “I think the day it starts to feel like work is the day I will stop, but I’m nowhere near that. I still have an amazing time acting, when it’s huge and fantastical and I get to see through the eyes of the character. […] I love roles where I’m not like myself, because I’m Chloë every day. I’m happy with my life, so I like playing characters that aren’t so happy.” She pauses. “Those are the roles I can really space out in, you know, where I can really get into those dark crevices of the psyche. I love those weird and dark places you have to go to for those characters.”
Chloë is quick to concede she’s not exactly a regular 14-year-old, but her responses usually draw examples from her family, not from working with famous directors or going to Hollywood parties. Like when I ask if she feels older than she is: “My mom is the kind of mom where if you want a bowl of cereal, she’ll tell you to go get it yourself. She didn’t baby us to the point where we didn’t know what to do by the time we were 14. My family is … it’s sort of a sophisticated atmosphere, maybe. And also pretty crazy. But my mom’s always raised me to be a smart kid.”
It’s a bold statement, but Chloë definitely is a smart kid: “I think there’s a difference in acting older and feeling older, knowing older. When I was 13 I thought I was older, but now I’m 14 I realise I was a baby then. So when I’m 16 I’ll think I‘m a baby now.” She laughs. “And when I’m my mom’s age I’ll really think I was a baby!”
But make no mistake: Chloë has buckets of confidence. “Yes I do. But in any profession you have to be confident. I’m very competitive. I’ve always wanted to be the best.“ She shrugs, cocking her head to the side. “One of the first films I saw was ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and I fell in love with Audrey Hepburn. She makes you smile, you know? And that was one of the reasons I wanted to act, the way she makes you smile and transports you to that place, that’s what I want to do for people. I want to transport people to another place.”
And then our time is up, as the PR sweeps in and hustles Chloë out of her seat. She flashes a grin and thanks me for the chat before she’s off to charm someone else. In this she will succeed, I have no doubt.