‘Carrie’ star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a hit-girl of a higher power

Oct. 17, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.
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"Carrie" actress Chloe Grace Moretz, left, and director Kimberly Peirce are photographed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, on Oct. 4. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

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Chloe Grace Moretz, left, and Julianne Moore in a scene from "Carrie." (Michael Gibson / Sony Pictures)

carrie 5 Carrie star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a hit girl of a higher power

Chloe Grace Moretz, left, and Julianne Moore in a scene from "Carrie." (Michael Gibson / Sony Pictures)

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Gabriella Wilde, left, and Chloe Grace Moretz in a scene from "Carrie." (Michael Gibson / Sony Pictures)

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Julianne Moore, left, and Chloe Grace Moretz in a scene from "Carrie." (Michael Gibson / Sony Pictures)

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"Carrie" director Kimberly Peirce, left, and star Chloe Grace Moretz on the film's set. (Sony Pictures)

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"Carrie" actress Gabriella Wilde, left, and director Kimberly Peirce on the film's set. (Sony Pictures)

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"Carrie" director Kimberly Peirce, left, and stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore on the film's set. (Sony Pictures)

chloemoretzanddirector 2 Carrie star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a hit girl of a higher power

"Carrie" actress Chloe Grace Moretz, left, and director Kimberly Peirce are photographed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, on Oct. 4. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

chloemoretzandjuliannemoore Carrie star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a hit girl of a higher power

Julianne Moore, left, and Chloe Grace Moretz attend the Los Angeles premiere of "Carrie" on Oct. 7. (Eric Charbonneau / Associated Press)

chloemoretz premiere Carrie star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a hit girl of a higher power

Chloe Grace Moretz attends the Los Angeles premiere of "Carrie" on Oct. 7. (Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images)

It’s conceivable that at some point in the near future, Chloe Grace Moretz could conquer the world.

Perched on a sofa at a West Hollywood hotspot in slim black pants and a gray cardigan, the 16-year-old displays the same sort of unbridled moxie that she channeled as the pint-sized, foul-mouthed superhero Hit-Girl in the “Kick-Ass” movies. Her girlishness still comes through — Moretz laughs easily and has a fondness for the word “dude,” but when talking about her career path, she’s all business, articulating her professional goals with the conviction of a savvy strategist plotting a corporate takeover. When she speaks, she looks you straight in the eye.

Chloe Moretz in Hollywood on Oct. 3, 2013. (Paul A. Hebert / Associated Press)

Chloe Moretz in Hollywood in early October. (Paul A. Hebert / Associated Press)

Even her Twitter bio offers a message of empowerment, advising her more than 725,000 followers to “live life to the fullest and never back down.”

That innate confidence, however, nearly proved a stumbling block to her landing the lead role in the “Carrie” remake, a new take on the Stephen King novel first brought to the screen in 1976. The actress auditioned for nearly 11 hours before she was cast as Carrie White, the bullied girl who unleashes her telekinetic powers after being drenched in pig’s blood at the high school prom.

“I’ve lived a lot of life at a young age,” Moretz said on a recent September afternoon. “I’m close to the age of the character but that doesn’t mean I’m the vulnerability of the character or that I have the virgin quality that Carrie has. I had to prove my worth, basically.”

Directed by Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”), the new “Carrie” contemporizes King’s tale for the age of CG effects and cyberbullying, and it arrives as a sort of commercial box office test for director and star.

The R-rated update from MGM and Screen Gems is Peirce’s first directorial effort in five years, since the 2008 Iraq war drama “Stop-Loss” opened to solid reviews but lukewarm returns. It marks the first title role in a studio film for Moretz, though the actress has been steadily working to segue into more mature parts. Her resume already includes supporting turns in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” and Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows,” and such indie projects as “Texas Killing Fields” and “(500) Days of Summer.”

Moretz said she was only 10 or 11 when she watched Brian DePalma’s “Carrie,” which earned star Sissy Spacek her first Oscar nomination and ranks as one of the most thrilling movies in cinema history, according to the American Film Institute. But the actress, who at the time was filming the moody vampire tale “Let Me In,” doesn’t remember being especially unnerved by it.

“I was brought up in the era of Rob Zombie movies, which are terrifying,” Moretz said, drawing out the syllables of “terr-i-fy-ing” to emphasize her point. “DePalma movies are scary, but at the end of the day, it’s slightly cheesy because they didn’t quite have the money they have nowadays to make things look very realistic. I’m terrified of real psycho stories, not, like, I’m going to strangle you with my powers.”

Chloe Moretz, left, and Julianne Moore in a scene from "Carrie." (Michael Gibson / Sony Pictures)

Chloe Moretz, left, and Julianne Moore in a scene from “Carrie.” (Michael Gibson / Sony Pictures)

Just as in the original story, Carrie’s powers in the new film arrive with the onset of menstruation. The story opens with the shy teen — who is coping not only with a deranged single mother who routinely locks her in a prayer closet, but also the jeers of the popular crowd at school — getting her first period in the shower after gym class.

Rather than helping the sheltered girl, who has no idea what’s happening to her, the other students pelt her with tampons. Things devolve from there, leading to the prank at the prom that pushes Carrie to use her budding supernatural abilities for revenge.

To help Moretz tap into Carrie’s fragile psyche, Peirce spoke to the actress for hours about her adolescent insecurities and even took her to women’s shelters to talk with people who had experienced real-world hardship.

Julianne Moore, left, and Chloe Moretz attend the Los Angeles premiere of "Carrie" on Oct. 7, 2013. (Eric Charbonneau / Associated Press)

Julianne Moore, left, and Chloe Moretz attend the Los Angeles premiere of “Carrie” on Oct. 7. (Eric Charbonneau / Associated Press)

“I said to her, ‘You’ve been working on red carpets, you’ve been hanging out with Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese and that’s great. You’re wildly successful, but that is completely opposite of what we need,’” Peirce recalled. “’I don’t want you to be the precocious girl. I want you to be the broken woman.’”

Peirce also scheduled a weeks-long intensive rehearsal period in Toronto last year just before filming began during which time Moretz bonded with Julianne Moore, who plays Carrie’s disturbed, deeply religious mother, Margaret.

“I look up to [Moore] like crazy,” Moretz said. “She’s a mentor to me now. There were moments where we’d just start laughing because we were doing the weirdest stuff we’ve ever done — we would have crazy conversations and then we’d be crying and killing each other.”

Apart from Moore and actress Judy Greer, who plays Carrie’s sympathetic gym teacher Miss Desjardin, the supporting cast is filled with relative newcomers including Portia Doubleday as chief mean girl Chris, British model Gabriella Wilde as the more kind-hearted Sue Snell and Ansel Elgort as her boyfriend, Tommy (Elgort already has roles booked in two anticipated adaptations of young adult novels, “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” both set for release in 2014).

Though Moretz ranked as a veteran among the cast, she described the experience of shooting the movie as grueling and credits the steadying presence of her mother and one of her four older brothers with helping her through the production.

"Carrie" director Kimberly Peirce, left, and stars Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore on the film's set. (Sony Pictures)

“Carrie” director Kimberly Peirce, left, and stars Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore on the film’s set. (Sony Pictures)

“I would come home from the set just drained,” Moretz said. “I would have to stay for 18 hours and just be in that mind-set of Carrie, which is just the darkest, most suicidal area that you could be in. It’s hard to stay there your entire day. I would look in the mirror and be like, I don’t know who I am right now.”

“What was amazing to me was how much Chloe grew up,” Peirce said. “I think that was extraordinary because that was my concern. I needed her to grow up, and I needed her to grow up on screen, and she just came to life.”

Chloe Moretz attends the Los Angeles premiere of "Carrie" on Oct. 7, 2013. (Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images)

Chloe Moretz attends the Los Angeles premiere of “Carrie” on Oct. 7. (Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images)

Moretz began her movie career in horror, starring in a 2005 remake of “The Amityville Horror.” With “Carrie” set to open to roughly $30 million this weekend (its prospects arguably bolstered by a two-minute stunt video of a young woman telekinetically demolishing a coffee shop that went viral), she’s ready to tackle more grim, dramatic roles.

Earlier this month, she traveled to Louisiana to film the harrowing family crime drama “Dark Places,” based on the Gillian Flynn novel opposite Charlize Theron and Christina Hendricks, and she’s set to star in “If I Stay,” about a young woman involved in a fatal car accident.

That’s in addition to her already completed work on Antoine Fuqua’s “The Equalizer,” the TV series adaptation that stars Denzel Washington, and respected indie filmmaker Olivier Assayas’ “Sils Maria,” with Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche.

“I think the reason I do a lot of these dark roles and the reason I’m OK with getting to this dark stuff is because I don’t have a dark life,” Moretz said. “I have an incredibly normal life. I have a family that loves me. I’ve had an amazing childhood.”

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


7 Responses to ‘Carrie’ star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a hit-girl of a higher power

  1. doubleR says:

    There are so few original thoughts in Hollywood. They just keep remaking past successful movies over and over…

  2. @ciofy says:

    let's hope it gets better

  3. kaylan says:

    I love Chloe Grace Moretz I think she is an amazing actress with a pretty good head on her shoulders but I don't think she was right for this role she is WAY to beautiful for the role of "Carrie" I mean when you look at her you just don't think outcast.

  4. KickAssFan says:

    Chloe Grace Moretz is getting older now and more beautiful, she will be 18 in just two more years, which is a good thing, im expecting a Kick-Ass 3 by 2015 which i would like to see and older Hit Girl kicking ass

    • BiggerKickAssFan says:

      Umm…There won't BE a Kick-Ass 3. If you saw the ending of Kick-Ass 2 , "The real world needed REAL heroes , not some punk dressed up in a wetsuit." If you get the reference , Dave Lizewski's Kick-Ass days are over.

    • Steve says:

      hell yea

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