In Texas Killing Fields, actress Chloe Grace Moretz plays a local girl in a small Texas town, growing up with a drug addict mother, a loser brother, and no shortage of unsavory men hanging around. When she goes missing, Detective Souder (Sam Worthington) and Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) find themselves racing against time to catch a sadistic serial killer, in order to save the young girl’s life.
For the film’s press day, Collider spoke to Chloe Grace Moretz, in both a roundtable and a phone interview, about the appeal of doing a role that was different from what she’s done before, how she got to go to a safe house to talk to former and current meth addicts for research, how freaked out she was that this story was inspired by true events, and how much she loved working with her co-stars, Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. She also talked about the experience of being a part of Dark Shadows, how the dream of working with director Tim Burton far exceeded all of her expectations, that she hopes they’ll still eventually make a Kick-Ass sequel, how she is waiting for a finished script for the Emily the Strange movie, and that she has four or five projects already lined up for next year, and is just waiting to see which one goes first. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Detective Souder (Sam Worthington), a homicide detective in a small Texan town, and his partner, transplanted New York City cop Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), track a sadistic serial killer dumping his victims’ mutilated bodies in a nearby marsh that locals call The Killing Fields. Though the swampland crime scenes are outside their jurisdiction, Detective Heigh is unable to turn his back on solving the gruesome murders. Despite his partner’s warnings, Heigh sets out to investigate the crimes and before long, the killer changes the game and begins hunting the detectives, teasing them with possible clues at the crime scenes while always remaining one step ahead. When familiar local girl Anne (Chloe Grace Moretz) goes missing, the detectives find themselves racing against time to catch the killer and save the young girl’s life.
Question: How did this role come about? Were you looking to do something so different from what you’ve done before?
CHLOE GRACE MORETZ: Yeah. I choose every role, in association with the other ones. I try not to do one thing, over and over and over again. I definitely chose this role because it is different from my other roles, but at the same time, it has the same type of heart as my other stuff. It’s still a very strong girl character, which I love. I love portraying that type of role. But, at the same time, it’s something a lot darker than I’ve done.
Did you have to audition for it, or did you just meet with the director?
MORETZ: They sent over the script, and my mom and my brother read it, and then they gave it to me and I read it. Once I read it, I was like, “Oh, my god, yes, I love it! Let’s go out for it. Let’s try to get it. I love this movie!” I learned the sides and I went in for (director) Ami [Canaan Mann]. I just worked with her and tried a bunch of different stuff. And then, two or three days later, they told me I got the role. It was a pretty usual casting thing, but it was special. Going in and meeting with Ami, and working on the lines and figuring out the character, just made me want it even more.
What did you do for research, in figuring out how to approach this character?
MORETZ: I’m only 14, so I haven’t been through a lot of crazy stuff in life to be able to pull from that. We actually went out to this safe house, outside of New Orleans, and we met these women who were either still using meth, or they’ve been clean for awhile. It was really, really dark, but it was some of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard, in my whole life. It was interesting to find that a lot of them actually didn’t have a choice to get on meth. Their parents would give it to them when they did something right, when they were kids. They were basically born into it. They didn’t really have a choice. I love seeing that side of it because, when I think of drugs, I think of someone who made the choice to get on them. But, when some people are kids, their parents give it to them and they don’t really know what they’re doing or what’s going on, but eventually, they’re completely addicted, for the rest of their lives. I found it really interesting how parents can affect a kid that much. That definitely influenced my role and how I was going to portray her.
Were you surprised that this is inspired by a true story and that the Texas Killing Fields were a real place?
MORETZ: Oh, yeah, definitely. I read the script and was like, “That’s terrifying. Thank god, they’re not real.” And then, they were like, “Oh, but they are.” I was like, “Wait, what did you just tell me?!” I was definitely freaked out, to say the least.
MORETZ: I love them both! I love Sam. He’s the sweetest guy, ever. And, Jeffrey is like a huge teddy bear. I love him to death. They’re both such phenomenal actors. I love them. They’re so grounded. They knew how to portray those characters and both did such an amazing job.
When you work with adults, do they treat you like just another actor?
MORETZ: When I’m in work mode, I don’t act like a little kid. People expect you to be more well-rounded and be able to discuss things in a more serious manner. If you’re always joking around with it, you can’t get to the point and get it done. At the end of the day, it’s your job, so you have to do your job. I guess I give off a more adult personality, so they feel fine to treat me as if I’m just another actor, which I love. I hate when people treat me like a little kid. I’m like, “Stop, please! You don’t have to baby me.”
What was the experience of working with Tim Burton like, for Dark Shadows? Did working with him live up to the dream of wanting to work with him?
MORETZ: Oh, yeah, definitely! Tim Burton has always been one of my dream directors to work with. When I got a call and they said, “Tim Burton wants you to be in his movie,” I was like, “Woah! Excuse me?!” It was a lot to take in. It was very, very fun. My mom and my brother didn’t even tell me. They kept it from me until everything was done and secure. It was a gigantic surprise to me. Working with him really did live up to all of my expectations, and actually went beyond everything I expected him to be. He was really one of the nicest and most normal guys I’ve ever met, but he has this brain. You get where everything comes from because his brain is just so creative.
My brother, Trevor, is my acting coach and we came up with a lot of weird stuff. We’re really weird, and Tim Burton’s movies are mostly our favorite movies out there. We were like, “You know what? We’re just going to come up with a bunch of ideas for the character and see if he likes them.” So, I went to Tim with all these ideas and things to do, and he literally was just like, “Oh, my god, that sounds perfect! I love that you just came to me with all of those ideas. You’re not afraid to just tell me.” I was like, “Yay, Tim Burton likes me!” It was really special. A lot of directors would have been like, “Oh, that’s a cool idea, but no.” For him to just be like, “Oh, yeah, totally! Let’s just do however many takes and just go with it.” It was amazing. Marty [Scorsese] did the same thing [on Hugo]. He welcomed it in with open arms and let me do what I needed to do to get it out.
MORETZ: Oh, yeah! The first day I came on set, it was a dinner or breakfast scene with Helena [Bonham Carter], Johnny and Michelle, and literally the whole cast, sitting at this gigantic dinner table, and the scene was us, eating. For me to walk in and sit at this table with some of the most phenomenal actors, and then have one of the most amazing directors in the corner of the room, it was so, so, so surreal. I was able to just do so much. It really just flabbergasted me. They have their own little circle, and they just let you into it with open arms.
Are you keeping up with the comic book sequel for Kick-Ass and what’s happening with the Hit-Girl character?
MORETZ: Yeah, I was looking at it and it’s interesting. I hope they make a second one.
Are you talking about that at all? Does everybody want to do it?
MORETZ: I’ve heard many different things, from every spectrum. It’s really up to Matthew. At the end of the day, he owns it all. So, if Matthew wants to make another film, [then hopefully we will]. Or, if he says, “You know what? I want to leave it at that because it’s an amazing film and I don’t want to mess it up,” he might just leave it at that. But, I hope he doesn’t.
Why do you think you’re attracted to these darker roles? Is that just your own taste?
MORETZ: I think the best roles are in dark movies. It’s roles that aren’t you. If I’m playing Chloe all the time, it would be like everyday life, and that’s boring for me. It’s fun playing someone that’s not me. If I’m playing me all the time, then it’s not acting. It’s just being yourself.
Do you know what you’re going to be doing next? Are you currently shooting something now, and do you have other projects already lined up for after that?
MORETZ: Yeah, I have four to five projects that are due to go in January. So, depending on which one is ready first, I’ll be doing that one.
Are you still going to do the Emily the Strange movie?
MORETZ: Yes, but I don’t know when we’re starting that. I know that they’re finishing the script and we have it set up, but I don’t know exactly when.
What do you think of that character?
MORETZ: I haven’t read the full script yet, but what I’ve heard from the writer, and what she’s bringing to it, it sounds amazing. The graphic novel is everywhere. For her to be able to circle it around one thing and build a Tim Burton type world out of it is cool. It will be fun to be punk, definitely.