Since the moment they announced that Chloe Moretz was set to star in Kimberly Peirce's "Carrie," I've been wondering about the casting. Moretz is a very talented and intuitive young actor, and I certainly don't think you cast people only to play themselves in films. But I do believe you cast to someone's strengths, and Moretz is so self-confident, so at home in her own skin, that she seems like strange casting for a character who is the very definition of bully-bait.
There's a protracted series of scenes in "Kick-Ass 2" where Mindy, aka Hit-Girl, has to contend with mean girls, a threat her father never taught her to handle. The way she finally handles them seems entirely within character, and she refuses to allow herself to be pushed by someone she sees as weaker than her. That seems like what we've come to expect from Moretz and the characters she plays.
In "Carrie," she is playing Stephen King's indelible creation, a girl so sheltered and so damaged by her upbringing that she is practically invisible until she draws attention from the wrong people. Her mother (Julianne Moore) is one of the things that terrifies her, and the girls in her school pile on, abusing her because she's an easy target. When I sat down with her last weekend, I finally asked her how she's right for "Carrie" when she seems so very different from the character at first glance.
Moretz has an amazing support system. Her mother and her brother are both part of her team, and I've gotten to know them a little bit over the last few years. One of the reasons I think Chloe's got a chance of making it to adulthood unscathed, her talent intact, is because she is given a chance to be a teenager, but she's also been instilled with an impressive work ethic. She seems very serious about the work she does, but she's not so serious about her personal life that she's in danger of having a meltdown. Raising a kid in the entertainment industry, even one as smart as Chloe, is a challenge that many parents fail completely, but I'd say Moretz is still just starting to explore the full range of what she can do on camera, and she's moving from role to role in the right way, taking chances, stepping outside her comfort zone, and continuing to pick roles based on filmmakers and experiences that can broaden her horizons.
"Carrie" is in theaters October 18, 2013.