It’s morning at a coffee shop in North Hollywood and Chloë Grace Moretz is telling me about her upcoming break in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with her four older brothers, to celebrate her mother Teri’s 60th birthday (Moretz describes the family’s special bond as “symbiotic”). It’s the actress’ second trip to the gay vacation spot in a month, after visiting for the first time two weeks ago to show her new film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, at the Provincetown Film Festival. “I’m fully obsessed with it,” she reports. “I have two gay brothers in my family and we love being surrounded by gay people and gay things. We were trying to figure out where to take our mom and we were like, she would love this. She loves biking, she loves lobster, she loves Massachusetts, and it’s so gay that she’ll just f***ing die.”
At 21 years old, Moretz, who’s been working since the age of five, is self-possessed, quick-witted and willfully unfiltered. “I’ve done interviews for 15 years so I’m used to them,” she says. She certainly looks the part: a black blazer with fur cuffs; a ruffled, navy-and-red, polka-dot mini wrap dress; white Working Girl Reebok sneakers. “And my Prada,” she adds, referring to the Cahier shoulder bag sitting on the table, gifted to her by the fashion house. “She’s a pretty girl.”
By her own admission, Moretz hates taking breaks (the famously prolific actor has worked on two dozen movies since her breakout in 2010’s Kick-Ass). “I’m horrible at vacations,” she says. “I work the entire time. I try not to, but I definitely have an issue with it. I get about four days of sleeping as much as I want and then once I’m caught up, I’m like, I’ve got to do something.”
“I’m horrible at VACATIONS, I work the entire time. I get about four days of sleeping as much as I WANT and then I’m like, I’ve got to do SOMETHING”
Recently, however, she bit the bullet and took a year and a half off to – as she puts it – reconfigure her career. “I wanted to reconnect to my job and what I love about acting. I dropped out of some really big movies,” Moretz admits, alluding to projects that included the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Surprisingly, she says, “I loved it. Just reading and writing and working and listening and watching. Just soaking up anything I could.” She spent two weeks alone in Tulum, Mexico, on a whim. She lived in a shack on the beach in Santa Barbara for a month. She did ritualistic things like having Sunday dinners at the Laurel Canyon home that she shares with her brother Trevor and their mother, who lives in the guest house; Trevor is the reason Moretz became an actor, helping to raise her and now co-managing her with Teri [Moretz’s father has been out of the picture since she was young]. Moretz asked her mother about growing up as a woman in the South and talked to Trevor and her other brother Colin about growing up gay. “I was like, ‘I never actually asked you what it was like to come out. And you came out under a very religious upbringing, because our family was very Christian Baptist. What did that mean? Were you afraid? What was your process?’”
“I wanted to RECONNECT to my job [so] I dropped out of some REALLY big movies. I loved it. Just reading and writing and listening and watching. Just SOAKING up anything I could”
In the midst of it all, Moretz found what she was looking for. “I got really caught up in being the girl who does the studio movies and I was like, I’m not that girl,” she says. “I started in Kick-Ass and Let Me In [2010’s vampire horror], movies that were not popular when they were being cast. I wanted to find that again and what that means to me, and the first movie that checked all the boxes was Cameron Post.”
Based on the 2012 Emily M. Danforth novel of the same name, The Miseducation of Cameron Post stars Moretz as a ’90s teen sent off to a gay conversion therapy camp. Directed and co-written by queer filmmaker Desiree Akhavan, the low-key drama won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with Moretz’s performance hailed as her best yet. Moretz worked with Akhavan to give a different kind of performance, marked by mature restraint and a lightness of touch that complements the film’s more realistic, often comedic approach to its tragic narrative. “We wanted to show the light moments, the moments where it’s really great to be gay and it’s really great to meet other gay people [and] what that looks like,” Moretz explains.
Her brothers approved. “They were super-excited,” she says. “We grew up in an area in Georgia where ‘praying the gay away’ is a very real thing. There were several people in our small town that apparently prayed the gay away and are now in fine relationships with their wives. So, the movie was quite close to home for a number of reasons. When I was reading the script, I always thought [conversion therapy] was kind of an archaic issue. Then we started to lift the lid and it was this onslaught of information. It’s legal in 37 states and it’s only illegal in the other states for minors, so it’s pretty much legal in all of America. That’s an issue.”
“I got caught up in being the girl who does STUDIO movies and I’m not that girl. I started in movies that were not POPULAR when they were being cast. I wanted to find that AGAIN”
When Moretz signed onto the movie, Obama was president. Halfway through filming, Trump was elected. Moretz remembers waking up the day after the election at 4:30am at the defunct summer camp in upstate New York where the production was shooting. “We were supposed to be in hair and makeup, getting ready for our day, and we were just crying, trying to mourn the fact that my brothers’ rights, the rights of the people in the movie, so many things could just be stripped away,” she says. “Desi [Akhavan] was the first person to stand up and give this really wonderful pep talk about how we can sit here and cry and mourn, and we should, but the most important thing we can be doing is making this movie, to be showing people these realities, and to be fighting for this.”
Their resolve continued when it came to the sale of the film, which took a surprising two months. “This is the first movie, easily in the last 20 years that I know of, to have won the Grand Jury Prize [at Sundance] that hasn’t been sold overnight,” Moretz says. “People were terrified to release a movie like this. Especially centered around a young lesbian character who isn’t having wild throes of male-gaze lesbian sex.”
The actress’ next performance is a remake of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic Suspiria, directed by Call Me by Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino, in which she plays the equivalent to Drew Barrymore’s part in Scream. “I’m the opening scene; I’m the first 15 minutes. It’s going to throw people off because I’m speaking in different languages and it’s crazy. I don’t look like myself either. It’s a coven of witches disguising themselves as a dance company. Which is the best thing ever.”
“People were terrified to release a movie like Cameron Post [because it’s] centered around a YOUNG lesbian character who isn’t having WILD throes of male-gaze LESBIAN sex”
Now that Moretz is back in the spotlight, she’s keen to apply the lessons she never quite heeded in her years as a teenager, being chased by paparazzi and in a high-profile, on-again-off-again romance with Brooklyn Beckham (they split up earlier this year). “The problem with me is that I’m fairly rebellious, in the sense that if people tell me not to do [something], I’ll be like, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to jump in head first and do a flip,” she says about testing the waters of fame. “I was like, ‘Why can’t I kiss on the street and do all of the things that my friends are doing?’ And you can – you can do whatever you want – but then I’d come home and be mad that there’s a photo of me kissing on the street. And my brother would [say], ‘Chloë, you can’t be mad, because you did that! Yes, your friends are doing that, but you are not your friends.’ I started to realize [I was] only hurting myself.”
So, she makes different choices now. “Which is a bummer, but at the end of the day it’s a double-edged sword. If they’re not taking your photo, they’re not watching your movies, and they’re not writing posts about you,” she says matter-of-factly. “So, you’re like, okay, I’d rather you want it, and I’ll just have to reconfigure my life a little bit.” She can handle it. She’s a fast learner.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is out Sept 7 (UK)
GIRL ON FILM
She’s well-practiced at being in front of the camera, but did you know that Chloë Grace Moretz has a passion for going behind the lens, too? Watch as our cover star gets candid about her camera and which subjects she likes to photograph…
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