Though she’s been acting for nearly a decade, and doing it very well, Chloë Grace Moretz has always felt like an actor dancing around the edges of stardom. She’s consistently proven herself to be a formidable talent even at a young age, but has often been paired with projects that simply fail to make the most of her.
Hopefully, that’s all about to change. This month Moretz takes the lead role in The 5th Wave, the adaptation of the first in a series of young adult novels hoping to fill the sizeable gap in the market left when The Hunger Games finally ended in 2015. Before we look ahead, however, let’s examine how Moretz came to the cusp of making it truly big.
Moretz first came to prominence at the age of eight, starring in the lacklustre 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror. Though it led to more work, the films she was offered sadly didn’t get much better. She had bit parts in a slew of not particularly scary movies like Wicked Little Things, Room 6, Hallowed Ground and The Eye. She also appeared in Big Momma’s House 2, which isn’t a horror but was undoubtedly just as traumatising to work on. While her roles on the big screen weren’t much to cry about, Moretz also found steady television work, including voice work for Disney’s The Emperor’s New School and as amateur detective Darby in the kids’ TV show My Friends Tigger & Pooh: a role that she would reprise for two separate direct-to-video films.
Eventually, Moretz’s patience paid off. Her role as Tom Hansen’s half-sister Rachel in 500 Days of Summer was very much a supporting one, but she shone thanks to a dry wit that made her seem wise beyond her years – something that would prove to be one of her defining traits as an actor. And then, in 2010, Matthew Vaughn gave her a purple wig and a samurai sword and set her loose on an unsuspecting audience in his adaptation of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass.
Hit-Girl is one of the most fascinating superheroes in any medium – a pint-sized, foul-mouthed ultraviolent hurricane. Watching her slice and shoot her way through a corridor of bad guys to the tune of Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’ is a standout moment in the ever-growing genre of superhero films, the kind of glorious scene that makes you feel guilty for giggling like a madman. And yet the sad reality is that Mindy McCready is a broken little girl – her father (a note-perfect Nicolas Cage) may dress up as a Batman knock-off called Big Daddy, but that doesn’t change the fact that his sidekick is effectively a child soldier.
A sequel to Kick-Ass was all but inevitable, and while the film wasn’t any more mature than its predecessor, Moretz certainly was. While there was more ultraviolence (and plenty more four-letter words) to enjoy in Kick-Ass 2, the real joy was in seeing Mindy completely out of her element in the confusing world of high-school cliques and balancing ‘normal’ life with the temptation to dust off her cape. We can only imagine how many bullied teens were inspired by her use of a ‘sick stick’ to put the mean girls in their place.
Speaking of horrible high-schoolers and buckets of blood, Moretz has also found herself in two more remade horror films. In 2010 she starred in Let Me In, the English-language update of Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In, while in 2013 she took the title role in Kimberly Peirce’s update of Carrie. Neither film was particularly good – they were both wholly unnecessary remakes – but that didn’t stop Moretz from giving it her all.
2016 looks to be an interesting year for Moretz as she enters adulthood. She’s set to star in Brain on Fire, a drama based on journalist Susannah Cahalan’s experiences with a rare autoimmune disease; and her role in the sequel to Bad Neighbours looks to carry on her penchant for mature comedy. But before all that, she has a YA franchise to star in.
Adaptations are not new ground for Chloë Grace Moretz. She’s already appeared in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and her turn in Martin Scorsese’s wonderful Hugo is one of her best performances to date. But she’s never been given a proper starring role before; and after The Hunger Games came to an end we could use a great new female character to lead a franchise.
Even if The 5th Wave ultimately goes nowhere, it’s a chance for Moretz to show her talent to an even wider audience, and it might be the springboard from which she lands some really great roles.
After all, the last actress who headed a multi-million dollar YA franchise ended up winning an Oscar.