Seventeen-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz has played a young vampire in Let Me In, a would-be superhero in Kick Ass and cinema’s most famous telekinetic, Carrie. It’s a diverse group of roles, but Moretz says she can draw a straight line from character to character.
“They’re linear,” she says, “in the sense that they’re all strong characters. A lot of them are like me, the basis of them. They all have a big mountain in front of them but they are going to climb it and fight as hard as they can. The weakest character, but also the strongest character, I’ve played is Carrie. She is two different characters in one, so diverse and so dark. There is so much to learn from her.”
In her new film If I Stay, she plays Mia, a gifted teenage cellist from a family of musicians. When a catastrophic accident throws her into a coma, she has an out-of-body experience.
The rest of the story is told from the perspective of her memories before the accident and in the present, as she observes, ghostlike, the aftermath of the car crash.
The character appealed to her because she saw some of herself in Mia.
“She’s an introvert until she plays the cello and the cello brings her alive. It’s how I am. I’m pretty shy, unless I’m speaking about my job. I’m really shy around teenagers my age. Sometimes it’s because they judge me and it kind of scares me. Crowds scare me, teenagers scare me, new people. I get really quiet and awkward.”
With that insight, she hoped to make Mia true to the character created by author Gayle Forman in the bestselling book that inspired the movie.
“My biggest thing was making her honest to the book,” she says.
“I have been a fan of book series, and then I’ll see the movie and think, ‘That was such a let-down.’ I hate that feeling because for me, I want to be able to be a fan of my own work.”
The movie is a tear jerker, but Moretz says she doesn’t like it “when people chalk up a movie to being all about crying. I like to walk out of a movie feeling like I have learned something, that something’s changed.”
After seeing If I Stay, she hopes audiences “leave feeling they felt something. It is a really beautiful movie about life and death and happiness and sadness and music.
“It is a beautiful story — a moment in time that doesn’t really have any boundaries.”