Any time I want to feel really old, all I need to do is spend some time with Chloe Grace Moretz.
Watching her prowl through “Dark Shadows” playing a character who is just on the verge of adulthood, it struck me how far she’s come in what seems like just a few short years since I first met her. The first time we spoke, she had on a purple wig and was doing backflips out of a window as she was shot repeatedly in the chest for about 20 takes in a row. It was on the set of “Kick-Ass,” and as I spent the next few days watching her work with Nicholas Cage, I was struck by how incredibly focused and self-aware she was, and how important her on-set support system of her mother and her brother were to keeping her protected. After all, “Kick-Ass” was fairly rowdy material, and even actors older than her might balk at some of what she was asked to do in the film.
Not Chloe, though. She has this ability to throw herself into the work she’s doing completely, and a truly adult understanding of the things she’s being asked to do. When I saw her the next time, it was for the Comic-Con panel on “Let Me In,” and it was interesting to see her spend time with Kodi Smit-McPhee, her co-star in the film. He struck me as much younger than her, emotionally, and when they were together, she suddenly seemed much more like a kid. In those moments she was away from him and talking, that adult sensibility would drop back into place, and that contradiction seems to sum up what it is that makes Chloe so interesting on film.
The easy comparison to make here is Jodie Foster, and it’s not one I’d make lightly. Foster was a rare talent and an old soul, even in her earliest work, and there’s a lot of that in Moretz. I think it’s great that she’s able to work with world-class filmmakers like Scorsese and Burton and strong new voices like Vaughn and Reeves and that she’s a real collaborator, but that she can also turn that off and just be a kid as well. She may be known for the extreme things she’s been asked to do on film, but as you’ll see at the start of this interview, she is not all serious all the time. Is it fair to use someone’s Twitter feed as ammo in an interview? Maybe not, but it sure is funny.
Bella Heathcote is still a relatively new presence in film, and she’s actually got a lot of “Dark Shadows” to carry. It was great to see the two of them together, and see how much fun they seemed to be having. More than anything, that’s what “Dark Shadows” seems to be… fun. It’s silly and it’s strange and it’s big and broad.
“Dark Shadows” opens everywhere tomorrow.