Chloe Moretz talks about fighting Mother Russia and returning for ‘Kick-Ass 2’

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE – Chloe Grace Moretz is once again clad in purple and black leathers, just like the first time we met, but this time around, she seems far more confident and controlled.

On the set of the original “Kick-Ass,” I was one of the very first interviews Moretz ever did, and part of what was evident on that set was how protective everyone was of her. Her mother, her brother, director Matthew Vaughn, screenwriter Jane Goldman… everyone was in that same mode, and for good reason. As we watch Amanda Bynes melt down in real time on Twitter these days, it is a potent reminder of just how much damage can be done to a young person when Hollywood gets hold of them, and no one wants to see that happen to Moretz.

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be the case. Chloe seems level-headed and normal in every way, except perhaps for her obvious talents as a performer. She spends her time these days working with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, and it seems like she’s being careful in terms of what projects she’ll sign on to do. I have a feeling we’re going to be talking about her work for a long time, so these interviews end up just being signposts along the way. Chloe at 12. Chloe at 16. Each time with a little more experience and a greater sense of self.

Part of what keeps her grounded is having her mother and her brother Trevor with her when she works. They’re obviously enjoying the experiences they’ve been having over the last few years, and they seem to never be terribly far from her side.

When we sat down, she had just finished her last shot of the film, and she seemed exhilarated to be done, ready to go take a break after shooting several films back to back to back. In those moments, when she’s at her happiest and cutting loose, she seems like she’s her actual age, but then as soon as the conversation starts, the maturity that makes her so unusual is on full display again.

Sequels being a new experience for this cast, I asked her how it’s been to step back into this character. “It’s been so fun being back as Hit-Girl again. Aesthetically, it’s been fun getting back in the suit and being back in the purple and the whole thing, but otherwise it’s been great getting back in the character for emotional reasons and the fact that I’m able to show an older, more dynamic… ’cause obviously I have had much more acting experience since then. So I’m able to show this more dynamic, personal character than obviously I could in the beginning.”

I talked to her about how the script addresses the aging of the characters in a fairly smart and realistic manner, and how many of the changes they’ve gone through in real life are folded into the script. I also brought up the way the new film shows a vulnerable side to Mindy that we didn’t see in the first film. “You know, if it had been basically the same script again it would definitely not be as fun and not be a movie that I would want to be doing because I’d be like we already did that. But coming back to a movie which is different and more advanced and more dynamic than the first one, it’s much deeper, I think.  You see more Mindy than you ever saw of Hit-Girl and, you know, you just get more involved in her life and you see her struggle and her kind of slip away from figuring out who she is.”

So much of the first film was about the relationship between Hit Girl and Big Daddy, played by Nicolas Cage, and I asked her if she’s missed Nic this time around. “It was a huge part of the character but I feel like we killed that character. That character died in my arms that day. I put the cape over him. So there’s a kind of finality to it, you know, which was really nice to have that there. Once I got back into the suit I was like, ‘Oh, my god, this is kind of sad.” I was like, ‘I’m not going to go on set and see Nic there.’ It’s just Hit-Girl. She has herself and her suit.”

I asked her how doing “Carrie” just prior to this informed her work as Mindy as she finds herself dealing with the cliques of high school and mean girls who don’t care about her superhero life. “‘Carrie’ was go, go, go, go. The whole time, always on, every day it was something amazingly emotional and it really pushed me farther than any other acting or any other movie’s ever done with me. I got so used to that, and then with this, it’s not as crazy and not as deep but in a different way, it’s physically hard and it’s also emotionally hard in this movie. So it’s a lot like ‘Carrie,’ but a lot different than ‘Carrie’ in the fact that obviously she’s not telekinetic or anything like that. It’s all very realistic. So it was anticlimactic, but it was fun to kind of go from one to the other.”

One of Jeff Wadlow’s intentions with this film is to push the action much further than in the first film. “I think it’s crazier than the first one,” Chloe volunteered. “It’s more, you know, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, jiu-jitsu kind of hand-to-hand combat. It’s kind of that feeling of like you get punched in the face, you get knocked out. It’s not like she can take 15 hits and she’s fine. It’s like this chick, she gets hit but she figures it out and she’s still fighting. She’s still really working her way up but it’s less stylized.”

The stunt team this time are the same guys who came in to reshoot the ending of the first film, so Chloe’s had some experience with them. “They did the Mark Strong fight and that thing in the hallway, the hallway fight, too,” she explained. “They definitely had the tone and the feeling of the movie down. It was very easy for them to pop in and jump into our characters and our feeling in the movie.”

I asked how it’s been having Jeff Wadlow call the shots on this, when she and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chris Mintz-Plasse all already worked together once with a different filmmaker. “It was interesting because in the first one we were all kind of just flying by the seat of our own pants because you don’t know if it was going to be big. We didn’t know if it was going to bomb. We didn’t know what was going to happen with the film. We just kind of made this piece for fun and being like, okay, well, if it goes somewhere, it goes; if it doesn’t, we’ve still had a lot of fun doing it, you know? Also, I was 11 years old. I was a lot less kind of, you know, understanding of the world around me. I guess you know what I mean. I was 11, so there’s that whole thing that comes with that. Now it was nice coming back to it with Jeff because I feel so proud of this character.

Hit-Girl is definitely one of the most iconic things about the first film, and Chloe talked about how proud that makes her. “I think that, for me at least, it’s been a very big part of my career and it was the main thing that brought me out as an actor and it’s very dear to my heart, this character. At first, I was like, “Oh god, a new director. I wonder how this is going to be. If the director’s like, ‘This is my movie,’ that would be really bad. But with Jeff, the minute we walked in, we were so collaborative and I just felt, you know, he’s just a fanboy and he loved the first movie. What’s so cool about that is he took everything that all the fanboys are going to want to see in the second one and he put it in there and he made it that movie, you know? So you’re going to be, “Oh my god, I was totally thinking about that. Oh my god, that’s my favorite part in the comic. I’m so glad he put that in there.” And also, he really conjured the tone of the first one into the second movie. He made it his own but also he gave his homage to Matthew. It’s the same world. A hundred percent.”

By far, the biggest threat Chloe faces in the film is Mother Russia, a massive female bodybuilder played by Olga Kurkulina, who is a massive female bodybuilder. I asked Chloe about shooting those fight scenes. “It was a lot of fun. She’s like seven feet tall, broad, 200 pounds, pure muscle, and I’m just like this five foot five, 100 pound little girl, and I’m like, ‘Um, you’re twice the size of me and twice the weight of me so hi. Let’s fight.’ It was kind of amazing, but I was terrified of her at first and then I realized that she’s just the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. She literally didn’t even know how to punch someone because that’s how sweet she was. She never even needed to know how to hit somebody. She’s so strong and everything, but she didn’t even care. She’s not a fighter.  So it was really kind of funny and sweet to see this lover who’s not a fighter at all be a fighter and really sell that.”

It’s crazy to think that in that scenario, Chloe is the one with the fight experience, while Olga is the complete novice. “I immediately jumped in and only had about a month to train for this thing. On the first one, I was only 11. I had never really worked out besides doing some sports and stuff like that. So now I work out hard during the week along with filming and then I also have so much training experience from the first one… it’s gotten really simple for me to jump in and be like, ‘Okay, let’s do this. I got this.’ It was really nice.”

As “Kick-Ass 3” starts rolling out in print, the inevitable question is will they make another movie after this, and if so, will these same actors still want to be involved?
“I’m so protective of this role.  I’m not just going to jump into another movie and be like, ‘Okay, let’s just do it.’ I had to read the script and really feel it out and feel out Jeff and see, is it worth doing a second movie? I felt so reassured by Jeff and the script that I was like, ‘I think this is going to be perfect. I think this is the next movie. I think this is the right way to do it.’ I think in a third one, if the script’s right and the director’s right, depending if it’s Matthew or whoever it is, I’ll do it if I feel it’s the correct move. But if I think it doesn’t do the second film or first film justice, you know…”

Unlike Marvel or Warner with the DC films, these kids weren’t locked down to long-term contracts that force them to do the sequels no matter what. There’s a bit of an ownership to the characters now, and the young cast definitely all worked to make sure that they were doing something exciting this time around. “Ours is younger than most comics. And with Marvel, those things have been around for 30 years. 50 years. Whatever. Those are owned by the fans. You can’t really mess with that. The idea of Superman. You can’t really mess with that.”

“He is who he is,” I prompted, which seems funny now after seeing just how freely “Man Of Steel” took liberties with some of the characters defined qualities.

“Yeah,” Chloe agreed. “Kryptonite is always going to be the one that takes him down. There’s always going to be something there for that type of superhero that’s going to bring ’em down. But for us, this was just created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. They just brought this to life on paper, and we just decided to pick it up immediately while they were still even doing the first comic and make a movie, you know. It’s this more collaborative young experience.”

If you read the comic run of “Hit-Girl” or “Kick-Ass 2,” they definitely feel like Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. are reacting to the first comics as well as the movie. There’s a sense that they cherry-picked the best of both before continuing the story.

“It’s very new,” Chloe said one last time before she ran off to shoot her last few shots, wrapping up her work on the film and preparing for a Thanksgiving holiday away from the business. I have no doubt Moretz is one of those people we’ll be checking in with over and over in the future, and I hope she stays as focused and as engaged as she is right now.

“Kick-Ass 2” arrives in theaters August 16, 2013.