“Marty,” says Chloë, “is very hands-on. Before every scene, he brings whoever is in the scene—like me and Sir Ben—into his trailer, and we’ll discuss the characters for, like, an hour and a half, just going over in detail...” Pardon the interruption, but this might be a good time to point out that Marty is Martin Scorsese, Sir Ben is Sir Ben Kingsley, and Chloë is Chloë Grace Moretz. Who is 13 years old.
“Marty’s amazing,” Moretz continues. “He’s a phenomenal director—I mean, he’s Scorsese—and the minute I met him I knew I wanted to work with him. Then I was just, you know, fighting for the role as hard as I could.” The role she landed was Isabelle in Hugo Cabret, based on author Brian Selznick’s beloved graphic novel.
“It’s cool,” says Moretz, “and I almost don’t want to say it, but we’re kind of making history in a way, because it’s Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D film. It’s a gigantic thing to be a part of, and it’s just like, All right, here I am on the set of Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D film.” She pauses. “It’s just kind of, like, wowsers.”
Yeah, wowsers—which is also a good word to describe Moretz’s career. Since 2004 she has clocked three dozen TV and film credits, including two recent rather astonishing starring roles. In the comedic-action flick Kick-Ass, the then 11-year-old played hyperviolent, foulmouthed Mindy Macready—aka Hit-Girl—the superhero-in-training assassin daughter of a bloodthirsty avenger portrayed by Nicolas Cage. In the brooding art-house horror film Let Me In (a remake of Sweden’s Let the Right One In), she played a vampire named Abby (“I’ve been 12 for a very long time,” she tells her only friend, a bullied boy called Owen).
Moretz is the bona fide breakout star of both movies—which has made her an unlikely obsession among global fanboys. (“I go to Tokyo and my face is on magazines, and the movies aren’t even out there yet,” she marvels.) Let Me In opened in London the weekend I visited Moretz, and her billboard-size face was plastered all over the underground and on the cover of a British pop-culture magazine with the headline girl of the year.
In a word, she has become something of an icon—landing a Scorsese film will do that—and the informal leader of a pack of young actresses who, in their career ambition and early accomplishments, are redefining child stardom in an age still dominated by interchangeable singing, dancing tween pixies. At 14, Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) is the elder statesman of this new thespianic lot; Elle Fanning (Somewhere), Nicola Peltz (The Last Airbender), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), and Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) are among the emerging players. Their spiritual big sister (make that literal, in the case of Elle) is Dakota Fanning. Their godmother is Jodie Foster.