Chloe Grace Moretz riding high on The 5th Wave

By Amy Shanks

Chloe Grace Moretz talks to Amy Shanks about adapting to her new role and pushing boundaries
Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan in a scene from the film The Fifth Wave. Photo / AP
Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan in a scene from the film The Fifth Wave. Photo / AP

At the age of 18, most women have not held a gun, let alone shown a talent for aiming one.

But in Chloe Grace Moretz's line of work, it's perfectly normal.

The petite young actress may sound sweet as honey and have a girl-next-door face to match, but she has a darker side, which "clicks" into action when she steps on set.

Having played Hit-Girl in director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Kick-Ass (2010) and Kick Ass 2 (2013), she became somewhat of a fighting machine.

Moretz slipped seamlessly into the role of vengeful high school girl in an update of Stephen King's horror Carrie, and pulled on a micro-skirt, heels and black wig as a Russian teen prostitute in The Equalizer.

Her latest transformation, to unlikely heroine Cassie Sullivan in The 5th Wave however, required a clean-slate approach.

"I had so much training for my [earlier] films I was actually being reminded every day that 'you are a character who has never held a gun before, so don't act like you have held a gun before'," she admits with a hint of a laugh.

"I have to try and pretend its not normal for me now."

Cassie finds herself in a world totally decimated by four waves of increasingly deadly attacks from an alien force.

On the run, frightened and alone, the schoolgirl must toughen up in order reach her younger brother.

Moretz fell for the tale after reading Rick Yancey's best-selling novel, long before a script was written - it was the "human angle" that appealed most.

"[Having] such a personal and large family that the idea of this girl running after her brother it feels, when she is torn away from him, it is really natural and realistic and very easy to just jump to that area," she says.

"I think what I found very interesting was that from page one to the end of the movie, Cassie starts off as a young girl and by the end of the movie I think she's definitely her own woman and you know it's a very modern realistic telling, because she definitely deals with these things with the innocence that she has.

"She's not your typical heroine, so I think that's what we need to see more of."

For Moretz a love affair with acting began at age 6, turning passion into a career which saw her become an instant hit.

Her part in The Amityville Horror earned the pint-sized talent an award nomination by age 7.

At home though, she could not be further from the bright lights of fame.

She's simply Chloe - family minded, clean-living and uncannily well-adjusted for a child star with such a weighty catalogue of films to her name.

The starlet credits maintaining a normal life off-screen with staying on the straight and narrow.

"Because of my family I don't think it was that tough [growing up in the spotlight], but when you look at it from some perspectives it could look tougher than it was. I have had a great upbringing and so much support.

"I didn't have any issues with going to the places I needed to go to, to do the roles I have done in my career. If I didn't have that I wouldn't feel so inclined to go to these dark places and come out of it naturally."

As much as Moretz finds comfort in familiar faces and places she's equally interested in pushing boundaries when considering new roles. Every opportunity offered space to grow - a concept that is definitely not lost on her.

Never mind that she's already worked with massive names such as Martin Scorsese (on Hugo) and Tim Burton (Dark Shadows).

"What I love the most is putting my brain into other people's brains and be able to completely jump out of my own skin and into other cultures and worlds and situations. That's a dream everybody deserves to be able to feel and I am so happy I get to experience it every day in my job," she says.

"On every project that I lend myself to I learn something new, I see a different side of myself there's definitely so much more for me to learn."

Diversity is key to staying on top in an industry flooded with fresh talent, so when a chance for her to produce and direct came along, Moretz eagerly accepted.

She can't reveal details of the new project, but says it's the realisation of a lifelong ambition. "Ever since I was a kid it sparked my interest."

Her next challenge is entirely different again, as she dives into The Little Mermaid - a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's classic story. Though some fans were less than impressed that Moretz would not be channelling the red-haired Ariel of Disney fame, she was excited about the prospect of creating something entirely fresh.

"Yeah, Little Mermaid has always been a dream role for me and I am happy to be able to take something that is so huge and wild and large, I feel there's a lot of pressure for it but I'm excited to see what happens," she says.

"I can't really speak about how it's going to look when we release the photo, but people have to remember that it's our retelling, it's our idea of what The Little Mermaid is going to be like, it's not Disney's Little Mermaid."

Who: Chloe Grace Moretz
What: The 5th Wave
When: Opens in NZ cinemas today

- TimeOut

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