DALLAS — When it comes to landing roles in all kinds of movies, age doesn’t seem to be an issue for Chloe Grace Moretz.
At 17, the Atlanta native already is known as one of the most versatile actresses in film, and many of her characters have been on the dark side in R-rated features. The best-known of these are the foul-mouthed 11-year-old vigilante Hit-Girl in the controversial “Kick-Ass” and “Kick-Ass 2,” and the shy high school outcast turned telekinetic monster in the 2013 remake of the horror classic “Carrie.”
And don’t try to tell Moretz that her latest film, “If I Stay,” based on the best-selling young-adult novel by Gayle Forman, is strictly for teenage females.
“It’s just a basic story about love of life and the family, and I think no matter how old you are, you can have a love of life and family,” she said during a recent publicity tour stop at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
“It’s not just about your first love,” Moretz said. “That’s a very small plot point in the scheme of this gigantic, all-encompassing kind of story.”
In “If I Stay,” Moretz again plays a shy high school outsider, but this girl, Mia, is a cello virtuoso who must choose between her dreams of attending Juilliard and devoting her life to classical music, or devoting herself to the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley), who’s destined for rock stardom.
Forman, who accompanied Moretz in the interview with The Oklahoman, said she was happy with the way screenwriter Shauna Cross and director R.J. Cutler adapted “If I Stay” for the screen, and the author was especially pleased with the way Moretz brought Mia to life.
“Everything I saw, from the drafts of the scripts to what I saw on set, to what I saw when I saw the first cut, to the final cut, to the music, to the way (Cutler) cast it, everything along the way was like one more puzzle piece put in play, and now there’s the final product, and I couldn’t be happier,” Forman said.
“When (Moretz) came on board, that was the linchpin of it all. And there was a moment when she started taking cello lessons and she posted a picture of herself playing the cello, and at that moment, she became Mia in my head,” the writer said. “And the more I got to know her in real life, I understood how similar the two of them actually are and why that kind of made sense.”
Moretz said one of the main aspects of the story that appealed to her was the way Mia’s family life was depicted: tight-knit, with loving parents (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) who are former punk rockers yet fully supportive of their daughter’s desire to play classical music.
“One of the biggest things (that attracted me) was the fact of the familial love and the kind of palpable relationship between every character in this story,” Moretz said. “There wasn’t a moment left untouched where you didn’t feel that this girl had so much love in her life, and to feel the impact of that all leaving. And I felt that it really hit home with me and my family — and how much I love my family and how close they are to me — and I think it was so much more than just a typical young-adult, novel-oriented story. It really reached levels that I didn’t expect to be hit with in my life.”
So don’t expect just another “cutesy” teen romance if you buy a ticket to “If I Stay,” Moretz warned.
“It’s more just witnessing life,” she said. “And instead of some sort of societal issue being shoved down your throat, it’s more just watching life happen, because we don’t do that anymore. We get so caught up in everything lately. The older generation might actually like this movie more because it’s not based around all the new, young stuff that we all live with. Honestly, it’s much more of a ’50s kind of movie in that sense, which is based more around naturalistic things.”