By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Dressed in a striped shirt by Top Shop and bib denim overalls with a short skirt attached by Vivienne Westwood, teen actress Chloe Grace Moretz looks more like she stepped out of a funky update of “The Wizard of Oz” instead of “Carrie.”
The 16-year-old has an air of confidence and joy unlike the moody onscreen character she portrays in the horror drama, based on the classic Stephen King horror novel. Carrie is a teenage outcast at her school, bullied by her cruel classmates. Her home life isn’t much better. Her religious zealot mother (played by Julianne Moore) doesn’t do much to build the girl’s self esteem, locking her in a closet when she transgresses. Then, Carrie discovers she has telekinetic powers so when she faces the ultimate humiliation at the school prom, she unleashes her newfound power against her tormentors without mercy.
Though the new “Carrie” is a reimagining of King’s book (helmed by “Boys Don’t Cry” director Kimberly Peirce) rather than a remake of the 1976 Brian De Palma classic starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, Moretz acknowledges that she faces some pretty high expectations from moviegoers.
Q: I was told to shake your hand and that you have such a firm grip you could break my hand.
Moretz: (smiling) Is that the word around town about me—Chloe has man hands? (She extends her hand and her grip is tight.)
Q: Have you experienced bullying yourself or seen it done to someone else?
Moretz: I think anyone who’s different, who lives a different type of lifestyle, has been bullied. I’ve seen what my brother has gone through being gay, and I’ve dealt with it as an actor and kids not understanding. You think it’s going to be a great thing. They’ll want to be your friend but no. People don’t understand it and they’re confused by it and scared by it and, for some reason, they’re jealous of it. I think everyone has dealt with something like that. It would be silly to say they haven’t. Honestly, for me it’s just, “Well, they’re the type person that has to do that; it’s their problem”. And for me, it’s just moving on and up. They’re always going to kick you. Carrie didn’t handle it exactly the best way, though.
Q: Was the shower scene where the mean girls tease you when you get your period particularly tough for you?
Moretz: The whole movie was terrifying but what was crazy about that scene was that not only was it iconic to the first movie but, in the book, the way it was written in that it was her ideas and her thoughts. She literally thought she was dying. It was terrifying (to her). No one or very few people know the feeling of “I’m about to die.” Usually when you feel that close to death, you’re dying. It was having to jump into that world. Imagine looking down (and thinking) you are bleeding out. I don’t know how to stop the blood and don’t know where it’s coming from but I’m terrified. I know that blood means death and I don’t know how to stop it. She reaches out for help, screaming. All she wants is for someone to help her. She thinks she has a wound and they’re not going to call anyone to come help her. She’s yelling, “I’m dying,” and they are just throwing stuff at her and yelling at her and chanting at her. She’s freezing cold, naked and covered in blood and confused. Jumping into the space of that vulnerability and sheer terror is hard. You are doing it on a set with smoke on it and we were all coughing. It was a horrible atmosphere to be in and I felt so uncomfortable and cold and dirty from (sitting on) the ground. It was all wet and nasty but it worked so well because I was hurting and I was able to think, “she wouldn’t be comfortable.” I was able to just live through that.
Q: Your director Kimberly Peirce said you two worked on some Skype sessions to help you tone down your energy because Carrie is so shy and withdrawn. How was that process?
Moretz: Yeah, I think when she saw that I was outgoing and excited she said, “No. This is never gonna work out.” Not only did we have Skype sessions, we had four meetings in person, and within the first 30 minutes of our first meeting I was crying and she was directing my emotions. I was like, “What’s happening to me?” Then I did two auditions and the auditions were like five hours a pop. Then I booked it. I went two weeks prior to filming and we sat down and wrote a lot of the character together. It was a lot of understanding emotions, which, at 15 years old, I had been through a lot in my life, but (during rehearsal) I dealt with a lot of emotions I hadn’t actually dealt with. I had put them away in a little box, and say to myself, “Oh, I’m OK,” and lived my life normally. I can be a little jaded if I want to but I’m going to put my emotions away and be fine with it and not cry. Kimberly brought all those emotions out. It was like a Pandora’s Box of emotions. Honestly, by the end of the movie, I became such an adult because I dealt with every vulnerability I’d ever had in such an upfront manner.
Q: The final scene with you and Julianne Moore is pretty intense. Was that emotional for you?
Moretz: We shot the death scene with Julianne for five days so I was crying for five days and (fake) bleeding on the floor. By the fifth day I was like “I can’t cry anymore.” My cheeks were chaffing. It was hard. My mom had to walk off set. She couldn’t listen to it anymore. Then we went back and shot more two months later, more of the death for two days. I’m crying and dying again. I kill my mom again. It was a weird mess of deja vu.
Q: A lot of the cast is around your age so were any friendships formed?
Moretz: I was the only one that was actually 16. Everyone was like 22. Ansel (Elgort who plays Tommy Ross) is my age. He’s a friend of mine, but everyone else was an adult so I was like “OK, I’ll be odd man out.”
Q: So did that contribute to the dynamic in the story?
Moretz: Of course, because we weren’t very close so it was easier for me to be terrified of them. If we were joking around on set all the time, it’s tough to jump into a character where you are terrified of someone when you are having a great time with them. But, it wasn’t terrifying with Julianne (Moore who plays Carrie’s mom) because I’m supposed to be terrified of her, but she’s like my mom, basically.
Q: Would you like to go to a prom?
Moretz: I’ve been to formals and stuff, but honestly they are so boring. Nothing really happens. They aren’t like at The Key Club on Sunset. No, this isn’t cool. They are all jumping up and down on a dance floor. It’s just awkward and weird. I’m not going to say ”no.” If I go to a prom it has to be with someone I really want to go with. I think if someone random asked me I’m not going to be like, “Oh sure.” I’d be like, “Um, no.”
Q: Have you seen the Sissy Spacek version of “Carrie?”
Moretz: I saw it with Kodi Smit-McPhee when we were filming “Let Me In.” I saw it when I was 11, a random time to see it when I was playing a vampire killing people. But I didn’t watch it since then because I didn’t want to subconsciously take any of Sissy Spacek’s ideas. She had such iconic mannerisms in that movie. My stipulation with Kim (Peirce, the director) was that there weren’t going to be any wide-eyed looks and I wasn’t going to keep my hands anywhere in this general vicinity (she indicates stiff and low at her sides). My hands will be above my waist at all times. No crazy eyes. If there are they have to be different crazy eyes. (She laughs.)
Q: Rumor has it that you auditioned for the next “Star Wars?”
Moretz: No, it would be cool to be a part of it, but you never know. Everything is up in the air right now because they don’t even have a finalized script. Disney isn’t happy with it yet so it’s going to be a long time before anyone is cast.