Chloe Grace Moretz: Going into survival mode

Actress Chloe Grace Moretz has had an amazingly fast run-up to fame with projects that were not typical of other youngsters.

She broke out in superhero flick Kick-Ass (2010) as potty-mouthed assassin Hit-Girl and moved on to make her mark in the horror genre with Let Me In (2010) and Carrie (2013).

She finds such roles challenging, she has said, because her home life is happy and normal.

Well, as happy and normal as someone who just graduated from high school and who's driving around in a Mercedes-Benz after getting her licence.

We were at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Cancun last June to talk with the beautiful 18-year-old Georgia native about her newest film The 5th Wave, a sci-fi thriller, which is currently showing in cinemas here.

Moretz plays a teen whose life is shattered when an alien spaceship causes the death of her family except for the little brother in her care, and the siblings are left to go on the run and desperately try to survive.

The alien invasion of Earth comes in five waves - an electromagnetic pulse that shuts down all tech, earthquakes, avian flu and snipers. The fifth wave is a surprise for the audience.

You started as a child actress. How do you think you have changed over the years?

I see this business in a very different light now than when I first saw it. When I first started, I was six years old and it's all very innocent.

Then as you grow up, you start to become more sexualised and I also started to realise the gender inequality in the business. For me, it's learning to... keep the artistry there when so much of it makes me want to go a little crazy.

What attracted you to The 5th Wave?

One of the main things that I picked up on when I first read the book and then the screenplay was that this was a story that was based around family and what that means and the bonding that you have.

And no matter how many people you lose, that blood connection is something that you would always fight for.

One of the big things in the story is that (my character) loses her way so many times and there are so many times that she is like, "I can't go on".

She's alone and she loses her whole family and then it's just her brother. And if her brother wasn't alive, she would have given up. But the fact is that the family bond - that love she has for her family - is what makes her persevere and what kicks her tenacity into overdrive and makes her not back down.

What was it like to work with firearms?

I have used them in a lot of movies that I was in and am very well-trained in them. Then walking into a story like this (and playing) a woman who has never used them her entire life, I had to unlearn all of those things that I learnt over the years in action movies.

And I think there's something very off-putting about seeing a young person with a gun, especially an assault rifle like that. It's very scary. So I wanted to portray that it is her last decision. She never wanted to take the gun, but she was so pushed and they took so much humanity away from her that she had to. She had to go into pure survival mode.

You have said that you're afraid of flying. How do you overcome that when you have to travel a lot for your career?

When I get on the plane, I am like well, "this could be it" (laughs). I listen to my music and hope for the best. I am kind of a control freak. And the problem with airplanes is that I can't grab the wheel and do it, so I just have to give in and go, "Okay, well I hope they know what they are doing and if they don't, that's it, it's my time to go."

What are some causes and issues that you are involved with?

Coming from a family with two gay brothers, we were never one to pigeonhole and embrace inequality. So for me right now, it's teaching kids that their imperfections are what makes them human and beautiful.

I always thought that I was never pretty enough for this job or I was never going to book that role because I wasn't the most beautiful. But then I started to realise that all these things I looked in the mirror and shamed myself for, are actually what makes me special. And that if I embrace them, it is going to make me a stronger human being.

This article was first published on January 20, 2016.
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