Girl On Fire

Chloë Grace Moretz is no longer that child actor. The 20-year-old is on a mission to prove she’s all grown up, starting with one of her toughest roles to date.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

To say Chloë Grace Moretz is a wunderkind would be an understatement. At an age when the rest of us would be hoping we’d have enough money on our debit card to pay for dinner, she has an estimated fortune of well over $10 million and is one of Hollywood’s top young female stars.

Best known for her work in The Equalizer, Clouds of Sils Maria, Carrie, and the Kick-Ass series, Chloë also made headlines last year for passionately supporting Hillary Clinton, and for her whirlwind romance with Brooklyn Beckham. Recently, however, she confessed to having had a moment that obliged her to “slow down” and set aside more time for herself after a lifetime spent on movie sets and more than 50 film credits to her name. Before she really slows down, though, Chloë has three new films in the pipeline. Later this year, she’ll be seen in the suspense drama November Criminals alongside Ansel Elgort, and Suspiria, the American remake of the Dario Argento horror classic that co-stars Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton.

But her next role is in Brain on Fire, where she plays a young woman battling an autoimmune disorder that attacks her brain and causes hallucinations, paranoia and psychotic outbursts. Based on the true story of New York Post journalist Susannah Cahalan, the film traces Susannah’s harrowing ordeal that saw her misdiagnosed by doctors and facing a lifetime spent in psychiatric institutions until a sceptical doctor steps in and discovers the true cause of her mental breakdown. Chloë tells us more about one of the most intensely dramatic roles she’s ever played. 

My Reading Room

What was it like playing Susannah in Brain on Fire? 

It was sometimes frightening to imagine how people can become trapped in the healthcare system while being misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

When the system defines you in a certain way, it’s hard to go against their version of what the truth is about what is wrong with you. Susannah, though, is a woman of incredible strength and character and she showed how you can overcome anything.

Was it exhausting to play a woman who suffers from hallucinations and psychotic outbursts? 

There were some difficult days when I had to remind myself that I’m acting and to not lose myself in my character’s world. There’s always that line you have to draw so you don’t become overwhelmed or sufferwith the role.

I tried to think about everything Susannah went through, and how she lost several years of her life and hermemory. And when I think of how strong and determined she is now after everything, that gave me a lot of strength.

Did you discuss the role with Susannah Cahalan prior to making the film? 

I spoke to her a lot and tried find out as much as I could from her about her experienceOne of the ironic things aboutthe film is that watching it helped Susannah piece together a lot of her own storybecause the disease had blocked out so much of her memory of that time. It helpto give her a clearer picture owhat she went through.

Did anything about her story surprise you? 

It was gratifying to know theNew York Post stood behind her. They [realised] somethingwas wrong with her, and thatwe really wanted to highlightthat. You can’t point a finger[at someone] and think you know what’s really going on with them without looking really deeply into the personand the whole story.

<b>Images</b> TPG/Click Photos.
<b>Images</b> TPG/Click Photos.

What types of projects are you looking for now as compared to when you were a child star?

When I was younger, I oftendidn’t have so much choice interms of my work because ofmy age. In recent years, I’ve been able to find many more complex and serious kinds of stories. I’m trying to choose rolesthat represent women honestlyand in interesting ways. Thatvery important to me. I also like working on films that mean something to me and help me grow as an individual.As I’m now a young adult, there are so many more kindsof roles I can play.

What’s your relationship with your family like?

We’re very supportive of eacother. My mother has also taught me that blood is thickthan water. We’re a very close family although we’re probably a little crazy. But itnormal for us and we all lovand support each other.

Tell us about the house you bought for yourself in LA.

I finally have my own roof over my head. We still live very close but I felt... it was time for me to have my own place. I had the money, so I said “why not?”. I grew up with divorced parents and because of financial problems, my brothers and I moved with our mother practically every two years. Now I can say, “This is my house, and I’m going to stay here forever!” It’s a very nice feeling.

Your house is still being renovated, but do you have a favourite spot yet?

The most extravagant part of the house is going to be the projection room, my little private cinema. I’m a movie buff and I could watch three movies every day if I had the time. I’ve already started collecting old movies like Rear Window. It’s going to be so much fun!