EXCLUSIVE: Chloë Grace Moretz Tells Us About If I Stay, Rocking Out With a Cello and Jamie Blackley's Secret Katy Perry Crush!
Mia, a girl with a wild flair for the cello, dreams of going to Julliard, but knows that moving across the country to New York would mean leaving behind her boyfriend, Adam, the lead singer of a rising Portland band...
Chloë Grace Moretz's new film, If I Stay, based on Gayle Forman's killer YA novel, could have been another Save the Last Dance-type deal, but takes a profound turn for the seriously heartcrushing when her character, Mia, is caught in a fatal car crash that kills her parents. Stuck in limbo outside her comatose body, Mia has to ask herself what it would mean to wake up alone—who her parents were, who she is, what Adam means to her, and just what she is losing.
**WARNING, YOU WILL CRY ROCKS DURING THIS FANTASTIC MOVIE, AND LEAVE WITH A CRUSH THE SIZE OF MOUNT HOOD ON JAMIE BLACKLEY.**
We talked to Chloë about rocking out to '90s punk, going through classical music bootcamp, JAMIE BLACKLEY, and how the Olds portray teens on-screen. ONWARD!!!
SparkLife: Chloë! I loved If I Stay! I swore I wouldn't cry in this movie after making a mess on my face in TFIOS, but THE GRANDPA GOT ME! *shakes fist invisibly*
Chloë Grace Moretz: (LET THE RECORD SHOW CHLOE LAUGHED AT MY DAD-JOKE ENTRÉE TO THE INTERVIEW)
SL: Did you read the book first or the script?
CGM: I read the book simultaneously as I read the script and pretty much fell in love with the character Mia, and I think because I fell in love with the book early on it mobilized me to want to really be true to the book and to the real fan base.
What will every teen understand about Mia's situation in this film?
I think what they’re going to be able to understand is the idea of losing everyone in your family and losing your one true love, which is the family you’re born into, and kind of the life that you lead. When that is gone and when they all die around you, your identity in a sense is gone—you don’t even have your mom, your dad or your little brother, you’re kind of alone and I think anyone can understand that and feel that even if they haven’t been through a major tragedy.
A lot of actors lie about being able to ride a horse, did you lie about being able to play the cello?
I didn’t—everyone knew I couldn’t play the cello when I booked the role. (LAUGHS AT THIS DAD JOKE ALSO) So they spent about seven months training me, and really all I could learn in those months was the emotional kind of connection cellists have to their cellos and how lyrical it is to play it.
[Mia] found the cello when she was eight years old and I found acting when I was five years old, so I kind of immediately had this connection to her...
Was it harder than learning martial arts for Kick-Ass?
It was definitely harder, because I’m athletic (SPARKITOR NOTE: CHLOE SKATEBOARD AND SKIS LIKE A DEMON), so learning martial arts wasn’t hard for me—I could just do it—but learning cello is a different skill set, you know what I mean.
Your character Mia is as tough as Hit Girl, but in a different way—tell me about why she's so kickass.
I kind of fell in love with Mia in the beginning because we kind of have the same passion—she found the cello when she was eight years old and I found acting when I was five years old, so I kind of immediately had this connection to her (such) that I could really understand her and justify her struggles. And when I saw the amount of pain and loss she goes through and how she still overcomes it, and how strong she is, it really reminded me of kind of myself, because I’m not a "weak girl," in a sense, and it was kind of easy to understand her.
One of my favorite moments in the film is when a group of characters sing Smashing Pumpkins together. Did you know a lot about '90s punk before making If I Stay?
Yeah, I actually knew a good bit about it, so it was fun when we did that cover of Smashing Pumpkins with the cello and the banjo and the guitar and the amalgamation of different sounds. It was really cool.
Which song would you love to hear made into a classic/punk collaboration?
Oh, good question. (SPARKITOR NOTE: YOU'RE WELCOME, CHLOE) It’s hard because a lot of those songs, I don’t think they lend themselves to (being) broken down like that because it has to have a trailing beat that you can kind of make up in the different sounds we were creating. And they actually did try a couple of different songs, and none of them worked—for some reason it just didn’t break down well enough and that was the one that broke down.
Music is what Mia shares with her parents, and what she shares with Adam—did you use music to bring your relationship to life as actors?
I think that Jamie and I definitely like the same kind of music, and he’s funny because he actually likes a lot of Top 40—he, like, loves Katy Perry, and Jay Z, and he loves The 1975 (BAND I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ALERT), he’s really funny with his music taste. We all would dance and be stupid on our off time, it was fun.
Jamie and I definitely like the same kind of music, and he’s funny because he actually likes a lot of Top 40—he, like, loves Katy Perry.
Your character's parents fit the role you might have seen given to a teen in an older film—they rebelled, they were the punks. What do you think we don't see enough of when teens are shown on film?
I think we don’t see enough of a normal family situation, because not everyone has a horrible family situation—obviously some stuff happens, but it’s not absolutely horrible all the time, I think movies tend to villainize (parents) or make them all peaches and cream. So it’s great to see the parents aren’t really great and aren’t really bad, it’s a normal familial relationship, and I think that we lose some of the rawness of, you know, childhood or young adulthood. Because (in If I Stay) they got to New Year's Eve and they have some drinks, and they’re falling in love and it’s real. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine.
I think movies tend to villainize [parents] or make them all peaches and cream. So it’s great to see the parents aren’t really great and aren’t really bad, it’s a normal familial relationship.
Your character is given a lot of freedom by her parents in the film; she's able to ride her bike around and make her own decisions—have you had to work to make adults take you seriously?
I think when I was younger it was definitely harder for adults to take me seriously, but as I've grown up I’ve earned my stripes to be taken seriously, and now it’s taking effect and I’m being questioned less and, I guess, accepted.
Jakob Davies plays Teddy and was the young kid on set, which used to be you—did you give him any pointers?
He’s a pretty experienced kid for a young actor—he’s done a lot of TV and movies and stuff, so he kind of reminded me of myself when I was a kid. He was very precocious and sweet, I don’t even know if I gave him any advice.
Liana Liberato plays Mia's BFF, Kim. I want her to be MY bestie. What did you guys want to show in your friendship?
I don’t know, we were friends either way—just off set, we became friends—so we kind of mimicked our own relationship in the movie and kind of did what we do in real life, so some of it was just us fooling around and being stupid and the other bit was scripted.
The 5th Wave is a very un-YA YA book, and the same with If I Stay, and these are books that ... deal with bigger problems and bigger emotions than most YA books.
You're starring in The 5th Wave next, an adaptation of a YA series, and spent a lot of time on-set with If I Stay author Gayle Forman—has this inspired you to get writing?
I try to, but because I’m 17 I think my brain can’t handle sitting and writing one thing, so I’ll literally start a project of writing something and I get completely sidetracked and I CANNOT FINISH IT. So I think I have to give myself a couple of years and try.
What are some of your favorite YA books?
I enjoy books that aren’t really YA in that sense, so when I read The 5th Wave it’s a very un-YA YA book, and the same with If I Stay, and these are books that hang under the label of YA but aren’t really—they deal with bigger problems and bigger emotions than most YA books. My favorite novel in general is Wuthering Heights.
OH, the Sparklers are super into that.
Really? No kidding!
Oh yeah, the Bronte fandom all the way!
If I Stay is in theaters on August 22, watch the trailer below!
Are you so excited for this movie, and can you just not even with how awesome Chloë is?!!