LOS ANGELES – One look at teenage movie star Chloe Grace Moretz and you would think she has it all.
But if you also think that being rich, famous and popular would make her one of the mean girls at school, the 16-year-old is quick to disabuse you of the notion.
“I don’t belong to any cliques. I’m, like, anti- clique,” declares the actress, who is best known for playing a foul-mouthed girl superhero in Kick-Ass (2010) and Kick-Ass 2 this year.
The subject comes up as she is talking about her new movie Carrie, where she plays a high-school outcast who uses her supernatural gifts to exact revenge on her tormentors.
In an interview with reporters at a Los Angeles hotel, Moretz tells Life! that she has been bullied herself lots of times – sometimes because she is a successful actress, rather than in spite of it.
Chloe Grace Moretz thinks that cyberbullying pushed Carrie over the edge
“You’d think that you would have all these people who want to be you because you’re famous and everything else,” says the actress, who played a child vampire in Let Me In (2010).
“But actually, you’re putting your most vulnerable, raw emotions out there on a plate for thousands of people to criticise and go, ‘Oh, I would’ve done that better.'”
Moretz, who has four older brothers, says she has also been shaped by wanting to protect them when they are teased.
“I grew up with two gay brothers, so I’m like, no, don’t you dare try and bully my brother,” says Moretz. She remains close to her siblings, including 27-year-old Trevor, who is also her acting coach.
This same protective instinct kicked in when she saw one of her schoolmates being teased.
Although home-schooled from age nine, Moretz once attended a public school in the affluent Beverly Hills area, where students would tease a girl because she was less well-off.
“You know, it’s a Beverly Hills school. And this girl would wear a Gap shirt and consignment-shop pants, and all of my friends would make fun of her. They would be like, ‘Oh my god, look at her wearing that T-shirt that she’s worn for six days in a row.’
“And me and my other friend were the only two girls who would purposely go sit at lunch with her and share food and make friendship bracelets with her.”
Moretz credits this attitude to her upbringing, in particular, the influence of mother Teri, a nurse who would take her on charitable missions to Jamaica when she was younger.
“I grew up in a very charitable, very Christian family where we were taught that no one should be left behind and discounted.”
And although the young star has become a favourite of fashion designers and magazines as she matures, she has developed an instinctive distrust of those who judge others, “even something like a dog”, on appearance alone.
“I have one of the ugliest dogs ever,” she says of her pooch Missy, a hairless Chinese Crested with patchy fur, no teeth and a tongue permanently hanging out.
“You can really tell what type of person someone is when they walk in and go, ‘Oh my god, get that rat off me.’ You know what I mean? Even though she’s not as pretty as my teacup poodle and my purebred dog, she is the sweetest of the entire group. And at the end of the day, it’s a helpless animal and to shove it off your lap and not take into account that it has feelings… I’ve judged so many people by how they treat my dog.”
Moretz also commented on the movie Carrie‘s take on the original Stephen King novel of the same name, with the film adding a new element by having the characters use the Internet to further victimise Carrie.
Chloe Grace Moretz in Carrie (2013)
“It’s interesting – some people look at it as a statement on bullying and how social media is ruining society.
“At the same time, the book was published in 1974. So bullying is a common theme in every generation, but it is a hot subject now for the fact that it has become completely anonymous.”
“You can go on Facebook and you don’t actually have to hit the person in the face anymore, it’s all psychological which, in a way, is more damaging than a couple of bruises, I’d say.”
It is this additional, emotional aspect that she feels pushes Carrie over the edge during the final, blood-soaked showdown at the high school prom. This has been an iconic scene since the popular 1976 Brian De Palma film starring Sissy Spacek.
Moretz has a rather modern interpretation of that scene, stating that in this day and age, the humiliating video of Carrie that some of the students had shot would probably be the final straw.
“I think she would’ve walked away if that video hadn’t gone up on the screen. I think she would’ve gone home and gone back into her shell. I don’t think she would’ve allowed the rage to take over.”
This story was first published in The Straits Times on October 23, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.