Chloë Grace Moretz: ‘Now everyone knows a girl can be a badass’

Chloë Grace Moretz can’t recall a time when she wasn’t in front of a camera. The former child star was six when she first appeared in the American television series The Guardian, but even before that, she says, “my brother and I were making home videos every day: I’ve been the star of my brother’s movies since I was two years old”.

Moretz is now 21, and a veteran of major roles in films such as Kick-Ass (2010) and Hugo (2011), and the lead in the 2013 remake of Carrie. She’s also had a high-profile on-off relationship with David and Victoria Beckham’s son Brooklyn that made her a tabloid target on both sides of the Atlantic. When we meet, over peppermint tea in a London hotel, she seems older and wiser than her years, polished, smartly dressed, rehearsed and articulate in her answers.

\Wicked Little Things (2006)

She’s conscious of it, too. Her career has been directed largely by her mother and her now 31-year-old brother Trevor. She grew up in the Deep South, in Cartersville, Georgia, with four elder brothers. Her father, a cosmetic surgeon, walked out on the family when she was 12, reportedly leaving them in serious debt. From a young age, Moretz says, she was earning for the family. “I was like, ‘I am a working woman.’ I thought I was very adult but looking back on it, I’m like, ‘oh my god, I was still a child’. When I was older I had to reconfigure who I was and be, like, don’t take things too seriously.”

She’s taking her new film very seriously. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming-of-age tale based on the novel by Emily M Danforth, about an orphaned schoolgirl whose aunt sends her to a Christian gay conversion camp after she is caught having sex with a female classmate. Directed by Desiree Akhavan, it’s emotionally involving, sometimes shocking and also very funny.

Even though the film won the Grand Jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it took months for it to get a distribution deal. “I think we’re the only Sundance winner, at least within the last 10 years, that’s taken that long to sell,” says Moretz. “But you’re talking about a female-led movie, directed by a bisexual American-Iranian woman, and the idea of female pleasure in the movie is something that American buyers and sellers are terrified of.

The film is set in 1993, but as soon as Moretz began researching the controversial subject of so-called “conversion therapy” she realised “how insidious it is in America even today. You definitely have it here in the UK too,” she adds. “It’s fairly prevalent, but it’s quiet.” In fact, the UK government is taking steps to ban the practice, despite some opposition.

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For Moretz, the issue is close to home: two of her brothers are gay. “They came out to me when I was about 10 years old and for me it was no big deal,” she says. “Trevor came out because he wanted the family to meet the love of his life – they’re still together. Some of the healthiest relationships I’ve seen in my life have been my brothers’…”

In the film, the idea of homosexuality as “a choice” and “evil” is propagated by Christian thinking. “I think it’s sad. The Bible is not a bad book, it’s not inherently negative, but it’s the weaponisation of it and how people use that to manipulate.”

Moretz’s performance is remarkably subtle for such a young actress: there’s a lot going on under the surface. I wonder if she remembers what acting felt like when she was very young. “I don’t know what I do exactly. I know that I just react, and I’ve done this since I was a little girl. I’ve always been an empath and it came very easy to me to just channel these emotions.”

Recently she tried watching some of her old films and, she says. “I felt it was a different Chloë than it is now. It’s like every Chloë that lives in every movie I’ve done is a different thing, it’s always been third-person for me.” She laughs. “Confusing!”

Moretz was seven when she made her first film, The Amityville Horror, “where I was surrounded by guys in prosthetics, with meat hooks in their backs and stuff, so I think that helped a lot, realising at a young age what prosthetics were, what fake blood was, and it was always silly to me”. She followed it with back-to-back films. Was there a point when she found herself asking, do I really want to do this?

“Yeah, for sure,” she says. “I didn’t even know acting could be a job until I was about 13, ’cause I saw it as like playtime. But then when I was 19, I had a moment of being like, whoa, I’m 19, I’ve done 50-something movies, what am I? Who am I? I felt the flame that I’d had my entire life start to dwindle and that terrified me.” She pulled out of the films she was attached to and just stopped. It was, she says, “scary as hell”.

“I didn’t know what to do. It was the silence that I was unaware of, because I’d always been around so many people and then to just wake up and not have anything to do and know that there’s no meetings to go to, no script to read, was the most jarring, silent moment of my entire life. I realised in that moment that I’d never had quiet.”

It coincided with a period in which Moretz’s troubled teen romance with Brooklyn Beckham, two years her junior, was being scrutinised everywhere she turned. They reportedly met at a spinning class in 2014, when Moretz was 17, and were soon being photographed together. (“We’ll go out and there will be 15 paparazzi and we’re just going to a grocery store,” Moretz complained at the time.) When they started to post loved-up images of themselves on Instagram, it fuelled the frenzy. Meanwhile, Moretz managed to get herself embroiled in a Twitter spat with Kim and Khloé Kardashian.

Would she be more cautious of social media in a future relationship? “No matter who it is that I date, my life will be displayed in ways I don’t choose,” she says. “That’s how it’s always been, not just in one relationship I’ve been in. I’ve treated social media as an insight and a peek into my world and I think that that is OK to do as long as you’re aware that you’re posting to 15.1 million people, not just to your best friends. I think as you grow up, the way you want to represent yourself as a person changes and the way you want to represent yourself with a new relationship changes.”

Does fame make relationships difficult? “Of course. It [even] makes the relationship with my family much harder, because things are being dredged up from a time in which my father did this, that and the other. I think that’s gross and grotesque, the way they do that – the press uses my life against me in a lot of ways.”

Moretz has faced different sorts of pressure from within the industry, too. Last year, she made a stand against body shaming, when she described how in 2015 a co-star who was playing her love interest told her he wouldn’t date her in real life as she was “too big”. “It’s sexism,” she says now. “The first questions I ever had about my body were projected on to me from studio heads and people that I worked with. I was unaware of the ‘inadequacies’ that I potentially have until they were said to me.”

Chloe Grace Moretz in The Amityville Horror (2005) | Chloe grace moretz,  Chloe grace, Best celebrity dresses

After 18 months out, she returned to acting last year, shooting the still-unreleased I Love You, Daddy, written and directed by Louis CK. In the film, Moretz plays the 17-year-old daughter of a successful producer (CK), who is seduced by an ageing film director (John Malkovich). A week before its scheduled release, CK was accused of sexual misconduct and the distributors dropped the film. “Me and all the other actors in the movie were under the impression that it was a commentary on the industry. [But] after what happened, it took on a very different form, which is why I think there’s no basis for the movie to be seen now,” says Moretz. “I don’t think it should be seen. I think it should just go away.” Does she think now the sexual politics of the film were suspect anyway? “I have that question all the time within myself,” she says, “but it can’t be answered.”

This isn’t the first time that one of Moretz’s projects has attracted controversy. Kick-Ass was heavily criticised at the time of its release because of the violence and swearing of its young characters, including Moretz’s Hit-Girl. She was left to face the outrage head-on. “I had to do all the interviews, at 12 years old, and the questions I would get were so crazy, especially here in the UK. They were like, ‘Is your childhood ruined because of this movie?’ The truth is, no. Hit-Girl was one of the most powerful characters I’ve ever played, and it set me up to not have to prove what kind of woman I am, which is a strong woman.

Chloë Grace Moretz в фильме «The Amityville Horror (2005)» :: фотографии на  сайте Дети в кино

“People freaked out over that movie, but you look at the characters now for these younger girls,” she continues, “and it’s become a mainstream idea that a young woman can be a total badass.”

I wonder how she’s managed to avoid the traps that seem to lie in wait for child stars – the drugs, the alcohol, the wild behaviour. “I think the traps are there… it doesn’t have to be that you’re wrecking a car on Sunset Boulevard,” she says. “But there’s always gonna be the typical traps of growing up in general, and I went through them all, in my own way.”

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