In the three years between 2010's Kick-Ass and this August's Kick-Ass 2, actress Chloë Grace Moretz has gone from playing Mindy Macready (a.k.a. Hitgirl) to vampire Abby in 2010's Let Me In, to Carolyn Stoddard in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows (2012), and will star as vengeful Carrie White in the upcoming remake of Stephen King's Carrie.
All of this and more for an actress who is only 16 years old, and whose career has been on incredible upward trajectory ever since she was first introduced to audiences in the remake of The Amityville Horror and the a spooky troubled child in the nail-biting indie thriller Room 6.
Wikipedia describes the plot of Kick-Ass 2 as “Inspired by Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the events of the first film, other people don masks and begin to fight crime. One of these, Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), forms a team and asks Kick-Ass to join them, while Hit-Girl “retires” and tries to have a normal life as a schoolgirl. Meanwhile, following the death of his father, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is reborn as the [Mofo] and plans to exact revenge on Kick-Ass for his father’s death.”
In the following Geek exclusive one-on-one interview, Mortez discusses the impact that the first film had on her both personally and professionally, and previews what fans can expect from the sequel written and directed by Jeff Wadlow from Mark Millar’s comic.
GEEK: I spoke to you a few years ago in connection with the original Kick-Ass after I’d seen a clip where you slaughtered a room full of people. Has it ever been odd, psychologically speaking, dealing with such bizarre material?
CHLOË GRACE MORETZ: No, it’s never been weird for me, because it was all just make believe. It’s the same as if I’m playing Modern Warfare or Call of Duty. It’s make-believe; I’m not going to go out and actually suck blood like in Let Me Go or go and kill people like in Kick-Ass, or telekinetically lift people and smash things and light things on fire like in Carrie. And to be honest, I purposefully choose roles like this so I can be different from who I am psychologically, because I’m a very happy, normal 16-year-old girl with a family that loves her. So I like choosing roles who don’t have amazing families, who don’t have security and aren’t in the protective bubble that I’m in. I like feeling emotions that you shouldn’t be feeling on a regular basis. I love being that person.
And these scripts allow you to do that?
Majorly. And like Carrie, that is a huge escape. It was a five month escape for me. Terrifying, but amazing.
What was the impact of Hit Girl initially? Professionally and personally?
It was amazing, all across the board. I just felt really, really blessed to be put in a movie like that. I look at it as my movie that put me in the “spotlight.” That’s what made people look at me and go, “Wow, this girl is not just another silly person trying to do something. This is someone who might actually stick around for a little bit.” So I just feel really blessed that Matthew [Vaughn] gambled with an actress who — you know, I had been working for eight years by then, but still, it was a gamble, I was unknown, I had to prove myself on that set, so I just felt overall pretty blessed. But the effects of being put in the spotlight were totally fine, because I have my family around me, and I was always really protected. So professionally it was the best boost ever, and then emotionally, personally it was again, another great thing that I felt really happy about. I had an amazing time doing the film. I never felt exploited or anything like that, because it was always my choice. We never found it disruptive to my personality ever.
Four years later, how have you changed stepping back into the role?
The obvious difference is that I’m older now, and the difference between 11 and 15, which is how old I was when we shot Kick-Ass 2, is that you’re a different person. You’re calculating more ideas, you’re experiencing more things in your own life, you’re not just living through other people’s eyes, you’re making your own decisions. And in between it’s been amazing. I’ve been able to work with So Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton and do movies with Julianne Moore and Sir Ben Kingsley and Sir Christopher Lee and Johnny Depp. I’ve already been able to experience and do such amazing, emotionally stretching things, so I wanted to come into something that stretched me and made me want to do something different this time. And I saw a difference in Hit Girl — the first script was amazing, but what [Kick-Ass 2 writer/director] Jeff Wadlow and I really wanted to improve was the real heart of it, because I wanted to show that this girl didn’t have a father anymore, and how much that affected her. She’s really confused and going through the self torture of, “Am I really a vigilante, or am I murderer? What am I doing with my life? Am I killing people because this is what I was raised to believe was a good thing, or am I just murdering people?” I wanted to show this inner pain and struggle, and the fact that she’s lost the only thing she had, her father. So I wanted to show this darker side to her, and I also wanted to make the action a little bit different, so we basically scrapped the guns. I do use guns a little bit in the movie, but we basically do hand-to-hand combat, and it’s just a lot more hands on. And I have nunchucks in it, so its really cool.
So losing the guns makes it more personal in a sense?
Exactly. In a way she’s a bit more personal at it now, and it’s just a bit more hands on.
Has the relationship between her and Dave changed?
Oh yeah, definitely. She’s growing up now, and she’s also learning that she likes guys, and there’s a sexuality between girls and guys. Are Dave and Mindy flirting or are they not flirting? There’s more than meets the eye between them, and it’s kind of this amazing relationship where they love each other in the fact that they would kill for each other, and they do. They kill for each other, so it’s a beautiful relationship they kind of grew into, and from the beginning of the movie, you get this aspect that they immensely care for each other. Whatever it may be, they care for each other, so it’s cool to see them grow up. She’s almost a Big Daddy to Kick-Ass, and Kick-Ass is almost the Hit Girl to her.
What are some of the differences between Jeff Wadlow and Matthew Vaughn as directors?
Both are absolutely brilliant and I think what Matthew created was such an amazing property, but it’s always fun for a fresh set of eyes to come in. What I found was really nice was that Jeff was a guy who went into the cinema, saw Kick-Ass, loved it, and was, like, “Dude, I want to make this movie, this is what I want to do.” So I really love seeing almost the fan boy aspect of it. From Matthew’s point of view, he’s almost a father to it; this is his baby. Matthew’s baby is Kick-Ass, this trilogy basically, and to see Jeff come in, he’s like the fan boy’s best friend. It was a really interesting aspect, because he was just so passionate about everything in the whole story. When he and Matthew first met, he was, like, “Matt, I want to make this movie,” and Matt tested him. Jeff went in and wrote the whole script, showed Matthew and that’s how he got the job. Jeff is a ballsy director, he doesn’t take no for an answer and he’s really strong, which I really like. In this film he brought in what everyone loved from the first one, but you also have the romance aspect of it, more hand to hand action, combat, you have tons and tons of emotional aspect to it, to where you’re going from literally crying to laughing to crying. It’s an emotional roller coaster, this film, and everything is a little more heightened and a little darker. If you look at the Batman series, the first one was really just Batman, right? And then when the second one came out it was a bit darker and a bit more crazy, which I loved. I love how this is growing.
Physically are you enjoying the aspect of kicking ass?
Of course. It’s actually pretty easy for me this time, because in the first one I was 11 years old. I was athletic, but I never worked out. I’d never been a little Karate Kid, so coming in to the first one was hard for me. But coming into the second one it was super easy, because I keep a regular work-out and I did the first one already, so I’d already been taught enough stunts to where it was really easy for me to pick things up. I only came in a couple of weeks or so before filming and just powered through the training, so it wasn’t as hard for me doing the second one physically because I was totally ready.