She's just hit her teen years, but with Kick-Ass, young Chloe Grace Moretz has delivered the year's coolest killer.
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By rights, Chloe Grace Moretz should be behind bars.
Or, at the very least, barred from multiplexes and fleapits up and down the land.
For here is a 13-year old girl who may indeed steal the show in the very funny, very thrilling superzero outing Kick-Ass, but this is a movie so darn funny and so darn thrilling that it's rated 16 here, 15 in the UK, and R in America. And yet young - very young - Chloe has seen it.
"Yeah, I have seen it," she nods, when we met up in Dublin's Merrion Hotel recently, "because, of course, there was the premiere, and that was a lot of fun..."
Outrageous. Time to dust down the old Irish Film Censor's torture chamber, methinks. Then again, the main reason Kick-Ass isn't a PG is Chloe's instantly iconic Hit-Girl, the home-schooled superhero who kicks the most ass in the movie, and spews out just about all of the film's deliciously nasty cuss words. So, it's not as though Chloe didn't know what was in store when she settled in with her bucket of popcorn.
There's something gleefully wrong about seeing a young girl using words normally reserved for football terraces, something Kick-Assdirector Matthew Vaughan (Layer Cake, Stardust) and the film's original comic book creator, Mark Millar, utilise devilishly.
This tale of a New York geek (Aaron Johnson, from Nowhere Boy) who decides to make like a superhero - despite the fact that he has no superpowers whatsoever - boasts the subplot of an avenging father (Nic Cage) and his perfectly-honed killing machine of a cutesy daughter (Moretz) setting out to bring down the drug lord (Mark Strong) who had conspired to this good cop away, thus driving the woman of the house to suicide. Said drug lord also happens to have a geeky son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, aka McLovin from Superbad) who is determined to prove that he's ready to join the family business.
It's manga, Besson, Woo, Leone, Chaplin, Son Of Rambo, and whatever you're having yourself. Vaughan set out to make "something as funny as Superbad and as exciting as Die Hard", and he's come up with something even better than that.
PAUL BYRNE: When did you know you had something special here. Right from the script, during the shoot, or maybe when 7,000 nerds at Comic-Con went beserk over a 16-minute preview?
CHLOE GRACE MORETZ: I think it was the moment I met Matthew Vaughan, before we even started the film. I think it was just the moment I met him, I knew it was something that he really believed in, something that he really wanted to make. And so, you know, after I booked it, I was just so confident in it. I was training, and when I got on set, I stepped into my costume, and then you just realise, when everything is just perfect on set, and all the actors that have been cast are perfect too, you just know it's going to be something.
I'm sure Mindy wasn't too difficult, but playing Hit-Girl must have been tough, given that you're the one who kicks most ass in the movie...
It was definitely testing my physical and mental strength, you know, because just having to push on, doing the action scenes over and over and over, after you've done it 10,000 in the gym already, you just have to put your heart and soul into it. It was really challenging for me, and that's really why I was so attracted to the role, because it was so challenging. It's just such a breathtaking role, and just the way it plays on the screen, you can see the dedication.
The Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar got in touch with Matthew back in 2004, before he'd actually written the Kick-Asscomic book, and the two soon went to Hollywood with a script in hand. Where seven studios turned them down flat. Your mum had more faith, demanding that you read it. Did you feel it instantly too?
Definitely. From the minute I read the first mention of Hit-Girl, where they introduce her, where her dad shoots her in the chest, you're just like, 'Wow!'. The whole idea of Hit-Girl had me from the start, but when you're introduced to her like this - her dad saying, 'Oh, I'm using a low velocity round, sugar', and then he shoots her, you're like, 'Oh, my God! This is going to be crazy!'. So, when I read it, I had to be Hit-Girl. Who wouldn't? It's such an amazing character.
I'm assuming that at the end of each day, someone washed your mouth out with soap and water. You get to deliver some choice words here, and you even managed the c-word in one take. Was it easy, going with that?
Yeah, because when I put on that wig, when I put on that costume, I become Mindy Macready, I become Hit-Girl - I'm not Chloe Moretz anymore. The moment I step on set, the moment they say 'Rolling', I'm in mode. And then the minute they say 'Cut', I take off the wig, and I'm back to Chloe. Which is kinda how it is for me. When I'm in the mode, I'm in the mode, and I just go with it. It just kinda comes...
This is quite a leap from voicing Darby in Winnie The Pooh adventures, or the young Penny in Bolt, or being the little sister in so many movies. Does it feel like Kick-Ass is a major step up the Hollywood food chain for you?
Well, it's definitely a huge leap for me, from the child realm to the adult realm, but just doing all that, it was so amazing to work with everyone on anything I've ever done. The more you do, the more experience you get, and I love it so much that no matter what I'm on, no matter what I'm doing, I always put my heart and soul into it.
You're a busy young girl. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid has just opened in the US, and you've got Jack & The Beanstalk, Let Me In and a new Peter Farrelly comedy heading our way this year. Getting that vertigo feeling yet?
No. When I'm not busy, I get so bored. I'm sitting at home - I'm home-schooled - and I'm doing my homework, and I'm like, 'Mum, I'm so bored right now'. I just love being on set, I love being with other actors, and I love doing what I love. It's what I want to do for the rest of my life. I love hanging out with my friends too, but making movies is so exhilarating, it's so much fun for me, it's like a playground.
Your older brother, Trevor Duke, is an actor too...
He's my acting coach...
Was that the spark for going this route? Or were you both influenced by your parents?
Well, my parents are actually medical. I grew up in Georgia in a small town, so, we were very, not even orientated with the business. My brother got accepted to this performing arts high school, and we moved out there. And I just kinda hit off from there. I told my mum I wanted to do it, and we did it.
You made your screen debut in 2004, with two episodes of The Guardian, and first got noticed in a big way in 2005's The Amityville Horror remake. A long hard slog to this point, or does it feel overnight?
Well, I'm just so privileged. It feels like only yesterday that I was just a little six-year old, you know, trying not to look at the camera - on the first thing I ever did. Acting comes very natural to me, and it's really no different than a kid wanting to go out and be a soccer star, or a football star. It's really no different - it's just something I've always loved, and wanted to do really. And, you know, it came so naturally.
It's really funny. We started out in New York, and I was actually there about two weeks ago, and I was walking down the street with my brother, and we walked by our old apartment building. And I said to my brother, 'Trev, do you realise that seven years ago, we could only dream to be back here, meeting Martin Scorsese, doing what we love, and exceeding at it'. It's so amazing, I'm so blessed, and so privileged, and I owe it all to my mum. If she hadn't said yes to my brother going to PPAS, I don't know where I'd be, you know. I'd be a regular 13-year old...
Words - Paul Byrne
Kick-Ass is now showing in Irish cinemas