One of the most engaging characters in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated Hugo is Isabelle, the goddaughter to Ben Kingsley’s Georges Melies character. In a story that features a distraught orphan, a grim shop owner, and an obsessive station inspector, it is Isabelle who stands out for her sincere, girl-next-door personality and ends up becoming the glue that binds the characters together. She reminded me of the spunky schoolgirl heroines from Enid Blyton books, full of good cheer and endless optimism.
When I watched Hugo a few weeks ago, I hadn’t realized that Isabelle was played by Chloe Grace Moretz, the actress who created a stir among casting agents in 2010 with her portrayal of the vampire Abby in Let Me In, the acclaimed English language remake of the even more acclaimed Swedish romantic horror film Let the Right One In.
I then realized I had also seen her in a supporting role in the excellent romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer, in which she played the very grown up kid-sister of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character.
Anyway, it has just been announced that Chloe Moretz has been selected to play the lead role in the remake of Stephen King’s prom-thriller Carrie. Stephen King’s debut novel has been adapted to screen four times, most famously in 1976 by Brian De Palma when it secured Oscar nominations for Sissy Spacek (Carrie) and Piper Laurie (her mother), besides launching John Travolta’s film career.
As I said, the casting agents are working overtime with this 15 year old actress who has 6 movies lined up in the next 15 months alone, not including Carrie.
For starters, she will be playing Michelle Pfeiffer’s rebellious teenage daughter in Tim Burton’s next film Dark Shadows, an over-the-top remake of the 1960’s gothic soap opera, being released in May this year, featuring Johnny Depp.
In the space of 3 years, Chloe Moretz has played good-natured, mature-for-their-years pre-teens in Hugo, (500) Days of Summer and Diary of a Wimpy Kid – and at the other end of the spectrum, she has played an emotionally challenged pre-pubescent vampire in Let Me In, a ruthless young vigilante in Kick-Ass, and now in Carrie, a high school misfit whose awakening sexuality is mirrored in her fast developing telekinetic powers.
Chloe Moretz continues the trend of remarkable young actresses emerging from Hollywood in the last decade – Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) and her younger sister Elle Fanning (Super8), Abigail Breslin (Oscar nom for Little Miss Sunshine), Ellen Page (Oscar nom for Juno) and Hailee Steinfeld (Oscar nom for True Grit). What is interesting is that they get fantastic roles as kids, but once they grow up, Hollywood doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of them – case in point is Kristen Stewart who was outstanding as Jodie Foster’s asthmatic daughter in David Fincher’s Panic Room in 2002 and magnetic in her brief supporting role as Tracy Tatro in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild in 2007, but who has now been reduced to knitting her eyebrows as an excuse for acting, in the Twilight movies. And of course, let us hope that none of them go the way of Lindsay Lohan who promised so much as a 12 year old in The Parent Trap in 1998 and as a teenager in Freaky Friday in 2003…
Meanwhile, one can look forward to great roles from Chloe Moretz and her sisters-in-arms over the next couple of years, before they hit the late-teen ‘danger years’.