BEVERLY HILLS—Frankly, it seems unlikely that anyone could take down Chloë Grace Moretz. She has just walked into a hotel room in high Mary Jane heels and a striped overall minidress, looking like a very pretty, impossibly poised little girl—the little girl who casually slaughtered grown men in Kick-Ass and its sequel—insisting that her brothers regularly “beat up” on her. “My God, you can’t imagine what happens,” she says breathlessly. (For the next 17 minutes, she will speak without any apparent need for air.) “They’re, like, biiiig six-feet-four guys. Like, mongoloids,” she continues, apparently assuming that mongoloids means biiiig.
Although Moretz turned 16 this year, her palpable confidence is still a wee bit unnerving. It’s obviously a useful byproduct of a Hollywood acting career that began when she was just seven and already includes working with Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and Tim Burton (Dark Shadows). And it also makes her an interesting choice to play the eponymous protagonist of Carrie (opening this Friday, [October 18]), the latest movie version of Stephen King’s 1974 pop-horror novel. Although it’s slightly tricky envisioning her as the shy, social outcast Carrie, it’s less troublesome imagining her as the Carrie who wields her telekinesis with, let’s just say, a powerful case of teenage emotion.
For some minutes, she talks about Brian De Palma’s “brilliant and nuanced” 1976 film adaptation of the novel—”I mean, it’s De Palma, you know what I mean?”—and director Kimberly Peirce and the actors’ efforts to make their new Carrie nuanced and brilliant also. (To prepare, Moretz read King’s novel “probably five or six times now, I feel”.) “You know, it was taking all this stuff that was already there with Stephen King,” she says, her words becoming a bullet train, “and just throwing it all into the brilliant ideas that Kim had and all the brilliant ideas that Julianne [Moore, playing Carrie’s cuckoo mother] had and all the stuff that I brought to the table, and it became this masterpiece of ideas and beats that Carrie would be thinking and doing and becoming and this huge arc that we built out so heavily and intricately.”
Around then, a question is gently interjected about “the prom scene”. “Yeah, the blood scene! Everyone calls it ‘the blood scene’!” Moretz says, laughing, her voice reassuming a childish pitch. “We had this book of blood! We had a book of blood!” (By now, surely everyone knows that Carrie involves some of the red stuff.) This is followed by a charmingly enthusiastic, minutes-long oral dissertation on the movie’s blood requirements: blood that didn’t stain her skin, blood that didn’t take off her skin, blood that didn’t stay in her hair, blood that didn’t need hours to remove, and blood for various settings (school gym, street, bathtub). “Because the blood changes, like, 10 times in the movie.”
Still, blood studies aside, how does one get under the skin of a lonely outsider with some unusual tics? “You know what it is, is that everyone has that thing,” she says earnestly. “Everyone has something inside them that if they wanted to bring it up every day they could cry and be sad and live their life in just complete, you know, terror of their own feelings. And that was what I had to bring up, was all my vulnerabilities—all my vulnerabilities that I, even at 15, had learned to deal with and to put away and to go, ‘Okay, this is how you’re human!’ ” Then she adds: “And, like, live in that for like four months!” and laughs delightedly.
Someone wonders if, as rumoured, Moretz will participate in another film adaptation of a novel, the Gillian Flynn bestseller Gone Girl? “Maaaybe,” she says, clearly uncertain about what might or might not be an infraction of something. She glances over at a young man who is, apparently, her brother—indeed impressively tall albeit pretty mellow-seeming—and who is busy concentrating on a cellphone. “Trevor? What should I say?” He obligingly comes over, bending to enable some feverish whispering. “Why am I blanking on this book?” he says.
“You’re so unhelpful!” she scolds. Then, turning to her questioner, she says merrily: “I can’t say anything!”