Interview: Chloë Grace Moretz talks ‘If I Stay’

Chloe Grace Moretz in 'If I Stay'

From edgy superhero fare with the “Kick-Ass” films and fantasy drama with “Hugo,” to horror with “Carrie,” horror comedy with “Dark Shadows” and intensity with the upcoming crime thriller “The Equalizer,” there’s no question that Chloë Grace Moretz has had more variety in her roles before age 17 than most actors see in a lifetime.

But that’s the way Moretz likes it, which is why the acclaimed actress has cast yet another new mold as the lead role in the compelling new teen drama “If I Stay.” After all, Moretz, said, she’s a teenager, and teenagers like to change up things frequently.

“I think in a way I blame my teenage mind for the diversity in my roles,” Moretz told me in a recent interview. “As a teenage girl, I can’t really choose what to wear in the morning, and in the same way, I can’t really choose what my next movie is going to be. I feel that’s why my movie choices are all over the place. My emotions are changing every other month, so I think my movies change with me.”

In “If I Stay,” opening in theaters nationwide Friday, Moretz plays Mia Hall, a high school senior and gifted cellist who is on the road to musical greatness when a car crash kills her family and leaves her in a coma, clinging to life.

Through an out-of-body experience, Mia recounts pivotal moments in her life, and is reminded through the whispers of an emergency room nurse that it’s only her fight that will determine whether she lives or dies. The dilemma, however, comes with a difficult choice: If she emerges from her coma and survives, she will become an orphan yet be with the love of her life – the budding rock musician Adam (Jamie Blackley). If she dies and moves on into the light, she will reunite with her family in the afterlife, but effectively leave the people who promise to be her family in the aftermath of the tragedy.

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Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Gayle Forman, “If I Stay” also stars Mireille Enos (“The Killing”) and Joshua Leonard (“The Blair Witch Project”) as Mia’s parents, and legendary actor Stacy Keach as her grandfather.

While Mia is effectively tasked with a choice to stay or move on, one could easily argue that “If I Stay” effectively examines the idealism of  Free Will. And while Moretz agrees with that observation, she also said “If I Stay” isn’t a film isn’t necessarily a film about faith.

“The interesting thing about ‘If I Stay’ is that it’s not religion based,” Moretz explained. “We made a movie that’s a lot about the subject (of Free Will), but what was cool is that didn’t have to force feed religion down your throat with it. We leave it up to your interpretation. Its ideas are whatever you want them to be. I think it’s more interesting that way instead of telling the story from a biased point of view. It’s told from a very open-minded point of view that’s more interesting than others.”

Having been exposed to film properties with built-in audiences before — “Kick-Ass” was based on a comic book series, while “Carrie” is remake of a 1976 horror classic based on Stephen King’s classic bestseller — Moretz says she very much respects fans’ opinions when it comes to screen adaptations of beloved source material.

“Whenever I do a movie based on a novel with a very large fan base or following, it affects me,” Moretz said. “I definitely try to use the source material to help me because the readers are the true fans of it. They’re the first fans of the material.”

And with “If I Stay,” Moretz said her approach was no different.

“I’m a fan of the novel, too, so I definitely tried to do the material justice and be honest and true to the fans of it,” Moretz noted. “Without the book, we wouldn’t have the idea for the movie.”

And while some actors purposely avoid the original source material and wouldn’t even think of reaching out to the author with questions, Moretz said she had no problem talking with Forman. The interesting thing is, Moretz didn’t necessarily ask Forman about what was in the book, but about smaller specifics that author used to build her character that didn’t make the pages.

“I asked Gayle things like, ‘What is Mia’s birthday?’ and stuff like that — smaller things that I couldn’t get from the book,” Moretz recalled. “Immediately, it became a super-collaborative process between me and Gayle. A lot of her answers were like, ‘I had no idea what her birthday is. Let’s make it up together to see who she is.’ She was very collaborative in the film in the beginning, and continued to be that way. I got very lucky with that.”

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Reviews: Tim Lammers talks ‘The Expendables 3,’ ‘The Giver’

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Read Tim’s reviews of star-studded action adventure “The Expendables 3” and the dystopian thriller  “The Giver” on BringMeTheNews.com. You can also hear Tim review the films on K-TWIN FM below.

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Interview: Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush talk ‘The Giver’

Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush in 'The Giver' (photo -- The Weinstein Co.)

Jeff Bridges is one of the stars and producer of the new big screen adaptation of the classic young adult novel “The Giver,” but at times it sounds like he was channeling his famed character, “The Dude” Lebowski.

Trying to keep his young co-stars, Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush, mellow to the harsh realities of the world both real and cinematic, Bridges who plays the title character in the film, gave them some valuable advice.

“Jeff actually sat me down a few times and gave me some advice about how I should never take life too seriously,” Rush, sitting with Thwaites, told me in a recent interview. “He also said not to take what we do so seriously, especially with a movie like this that has a really dark side to it. Jeff said it was OK to allow yourself to be the fool and just jump in, and that’s he does, and Meryl Streep does and Brenton does.”

“The Giver,” based on author Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newbery Medal-winning children’s novel of the same name, is set in the future in a seemingly utopian society where the “Sameness” has eradicated the pain and strife” of peoples’ lives, but also their capability to experience emotions because of daily injections.

However, the society begins to unravel when the teen Jonas (Thwaites) has inherited the position of Receiver of Memories from The Giver (Bridges), a person who stores humankind’s past memories before the Sameness came about. Even though Jonas is under the watch of the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep), he begins to defy the system as he discovers their existence is in more of dystopian environment that one of bliss — a discovery that puts his and the life of his close friend, Fiona (Rush), in danger.

Opening in theaters Friday nationwide, “The Giver” also stars Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Swift

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“The Giver” is a unique project for Thwaites, 25, and Rush, 17, in that the actors were born in Australia and Israel, respectively, and didn’t have exposure of the American-penned book growing up. In some ways, Thwaites found that to be advantage when tackling the role.

“I wish I had read it growing up because I would have had an understanding of the story going in,” recalled Thwaites, who most recently starred opposite Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent” as Prince Phillip. “But I’m glad I didn’t because it gave me a fresh, new feel for the material.”

One of the biggest differences in “The Giver” compared with its original source material is the age of Jonas, who is approaching 12 in the novel and is a teenager in movie. Thwaites is hoping diehard fans of the book understand why Bridges, director Phillip Noyce and their fellow filmmakers opted to make Jonas older, as well as other changes.

“In the book, Jonas talks in first person, but in film, you can’t really do that, so his character had to be structured in little more to make sense,” Thwaites said.

Plus, Rush added, some characters in the book have been given expanded roles.

“A lot of the characters became more complex. The Chief Elder in the book doesn’t have that big of a role in the story, but in the movie is played by Meryl Streep, so of course it’s bigger because it’s Meryl. In the book,” Rush observed. “Fiona is a lot different and is more developed in the film. On the whole, the film carries the same spirit of the book.”

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Thwaites and Rush admitted that they were put at ease at the heavy presence of Lowry on the set.

“Lois came to the set and with us at San Diego Comic Con, and she also has a good relationship with Jeff and Nikki Silver, who is another one of the producers,” Rush said. “When she came to the set, I asked her about everything I could. I felt like, ‘If she’s OK with something, then nobody else can get mad at me.’ I would ask, ‘Are you OK with what I’m wearing? Are you OK with how my hair looks?’ She was really cool with everything. She was just happy about the whole situation.”

Reviews: Tim Lammers talks ‘Ninja Turtles,’ ‘Into the Storm’ on KARE-TV, more

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Tim reviews the fantasy action adventure “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett, with Diana Pierce on KARE 11 TV (NBC) in Minneapolis. See the review of the film, along with a review of the tornado thriller “Into the Storm” on KARE and on BringMeTheNews.com. You can also hear Tim review the films on radio segments on K-TWIN 96.3 FM and WOC 1420 AM.

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Original Interviews, Reviews & More By Tim Lammers