Feisty Chloe Grace Moretz takes on her first weepy romance

Chloe Grace Moretz, who says this foray into soft-focused romance does not mean she has abandoned her innate preference for stronger roles such as Hit-Girl (above) in Kick-Ass. -- PHOTO: UIP
Chloe Grace Moretz, who says this foray into soft-focused romance does not mean she has abandoned her innate preference for stronger roles such as Hit-Girl (above) in Kick-Ass. -- PHOTO: UIP
Chloe Grace Moretz (above, with Jamie Blackley, in If I Stay), who says this foray into soft-focused romance does not mean she has abandoned her innate preference for stronger roles such as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass. -- PHOTO: WARNER BROS
Chloe Grace Moretz (above, with Jamie Blackley, in If I Stay), who says this foray into soft-focused romance does not mean she has abandoned her innate preference for stronger roles such as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass. -- PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Kick-Ass star Chloe Grace Moretz plays a girl in a coma in weepy romance

She became a star in 2010, when she burst onto the scene playing a deliciously profane 11-year-old vigilante in the hit-action parody Kick-Ass and then a troubled child vampire in the horror flick Let Me In.

After cornering the market on dark and twisted little girls, Chloe Grace Moretz is going all hearts and flowers with her latest movie, the weepy teenage romance If I Stay.

Opening in Singapore tomorrow, it is a classic tale of boy meets girl, with Moretz cast as Mia, a cello prodigy who falls in love with a budding rock star - and then falls into a coma after a horrific car accident, prompting an out-of-body experience in which she must decide whether to live or die.

It is a two-pack-of-tissues kind of film aimed squarely at the young adult crowd. But the 17-year-old Moretz, who made her name with her precocious performances in R-rated movies (the American rating for violence and strong language), assures Life! that this foray into soft-focused romance does not mean she has abandoned her preference for empowered female characters and slightly darker storylines.

In a one-on-one chat in Los Angeles last month, she reveals that she has actually turned down parts she considers "too damsel-ly".

"I've not done a role because it was basically this girl giving up her life for a man. It's kind of boring. It's not even about me being a feminist - I just don't want to do that, it's not me. I can't sit there and do a role where it's like, 'Aw, baby, sweetie, save me.'

"It aggravates me to have to put my mind in such a weak, male-driven character, because I never did that with my brothers," says the actress, who comes from a close-knit family with four older brothers - Brandon, Colin, Ethan and Trevor, the latter also doubling as her acting coach and sitting in on interviews such as these.

"When I fell and got hurt, I'd never be like, 'Help me!' I'd go, 'I got it', and then run it off," she says as Trevor, 27, smiles.

And although she has recently become the talk of the tabloids - she has been photographed on several dates with Brooklyn Beckham, the handsome 15-year-old son of footballer David and fashion designer Victoria - Moretz insists that she generally avoids the Tinseltown party scene.

In fact, her mother Teri enforces the same kind of rules that many other parents of teenagers do.

"My mom knows that I'm a good kid and super dedicated to work and so she allows me to do things - I've asked her a couple of times if I can go to a teen party or whatever, and she's sometimes allowed me to, as long as she knows where I am and who I'm with.

"But otherwise, it's a 'have your friends over to the house' kind of idea. Because at the end of the day, I'm only 17."

On top of that, Moretz - who last year starred in the sequel to Kick-Ass, as well as a remake of the horror classic Carrie - says the Hollywood lifestyle simply does not interest her.

"I've never had the inclination to want to go out. I'd rather have friends over to my house than go to any stupid party.

"I don't really like parties. I enjoy intimate settings of like three to five people because I like to be able to control the setting and know exactly who's in my house, who I'm talking to, and know that they're my friends and not random people," says Moretz, who frequently attends industry events with Trevor or Teri and reveals that she still has the same best friends she had when she was nine.

It is no accident, moreover, that she has often played outsiders on screen such as the socially ostracised Carrie or Hit-Girl, who was raised to be a killer - because Moretz tells Life! that she feels like a bit of an outlier in the film industry.

"In some ways, I'm definitely one of the youngest girls not conforming to the system and kind of being forthright, trying new things and not really taking no for an answer.

"And I think some people my age aren't really doing that," says Moretz, whose peers include actresses such as 16-year-olds Elle Fanning (Maleficent, 2014; Super 8, 2011) and Bella Thorne (Blended, 2014).

Yet, she feels constant pressure to conform.

"Everyone tries to put pressure on you to change, you know what I mean? It's kind of their job - except for my mom and my brother, who protect me from that.

"So they'll pressure you to wear what they want you to wear, they'll pressure you to have the hair colour they want you to have and, if your boobs aren't big enough, they'll pressure you to wear chicken cutlets," she says with a matter-of-fact shrug, referring to bra inserts.

"But you just have to go, 'Get away from me', and push them down the stairs," she adds with a laugh.

And while starring in a teenage romantic drama might not seem like the most non-conformist thing an actress could do, Moretz says If I Stay carries a powerful message for young women.

"It's about following your dream and making sure that you never really give it up for someone who tells you that you have to give it up so they can follow theirs.

"That's why I like Mia so much," she says of her character, who has to decide between staying close to her boyfriend and attending the prestigious Juilliard music school.

"She doesn't just say, 'Okay, I'll give up Juilliard'.' She contemplates it for a second, but is like, 'No, why would I give up my first love, the cello. If this guy loves me truly then he'll be okay with that.'"

stlife@sph.com.sg

If I Stay opens in Singapore tomorrow and will be reviewed on Friday.

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