Chloë Moretz is at an age where most girls are sending texts by the hundreds, screaming for a glimpse of Justin Bieber and getting anxious about high school. She may well be dabbling in all that -- she's quite giggly, at least over the phone -- but at 14, she's got a grasp on some pretty dark material, too.
Moretz started working on the TV series "The Guardian" at age 7, and her first major film role came a year later. It was in "The Amityville Horror," the 2005 demon slasher film. From there, she starred in six different films that dealt with either horror or death, or both. After a cute turn in "(500) Days of Summer," her true leading breakout role came in 2010's "Kick-Ass," in which she played a hardboiled vigilante killer who left plenty of corpses in her wake.
Now, Moretz is featured in yet another twisted role, playing an abused young girl in the Ami Mann-directed murder procedural "Texas Killing Fields." Slapped around and sent packing by a drug addict mother and her merry-go-round of methed-up boyfriends, Moretz's Little Anne Sliger is a tough, middle finger waving vagabond, who gets a modicum of protection from Sam, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's religious New York City cop transplanted to Texas City. Once again, the part seems antithetical to the big-eyed, soft-featured innocence she projects, but she wears the southwestern squalor like it was caked on from the start.
Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain costar as detectives working along with Dean Morgan to investigate a series of murders that end with bodies dumped in a swamp bearing the name that gives the film its title. The film hits theaters in limited release on Friday.
HuffPost spoke to Moretz earlier this week, discussing this role and the prolific career she's had thus far.
What is it about such tough, dark roles that interests you?
I think it's fun because -- I don't know, I don't like... The damsel in distress roles are always kind of the same; they're always repetitive. I think it's more fun to have a role that is different, and you're able to portray a different side of women. Because forever it's always been the damsel in distress. It's fun to play the leading women.
Did you ever want to do a Disney star type of thing, like most actresses your age?
I really like projects that are dark and meaty and really where I can portray someone that I'm not. I'd rather not do a role where I'm playing myself because it wouldn't be fun for me, because I like playing someone who is not me.
So, why were you interested in this film, specifically?
I think because the role was an interesting role. I think it was the relationship between Sam and her that I found really interesting. Sam needs someone to love and father, he needs someone to father and be that parental figure. And [my character] just needed someone to love me and take care of me so I could just let my guard down and be a normal girl. And so I think the way that unspoken kind of thing happens between them, I think that's kind of special... I love how she changes from the beginning of the film to the end.
How was it working with such big co-stars, like Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain?
It was amazing. I absolutely love Jessica Chastain. And actually, when I worked with her, she hadn't fully broken out yet with all of her movies that are out now. So when I met her I was like, 'What are you up to?' And she named about 15,000 movies and I was like, 'Oh wow, you've been very busy.' And then I realized how amazing she was at acting. She just transformed that character. And I know that character -- she actually based it on an actual woman. I thought that was so cool that she kept in contact with that woman and sent emails to her and they went to lunch and stuff. I think Jessica is such a phenomenal actress.
Do you want to start playing real people and doing research like that?
I've definitely done that type of research before. For this role, we actually went to these halfway houses and met these people who were either on meth or are free of meth, but have all their stories. And so I realized a lot of crazy stuff when I was there.
How'd you handle that?
It's weird because it's close now and it's reality. And when reality hits you in the face, you're like, "Oh my god." It's a lot darker than you think it to be.
Was it hard to play a girl who was abused?
I don't know. I've never been abused and I'm only 14 so I don't have a lot to pull from. After meeting the women who went through that at the halfway house... A lot of them have obviously been through more than that, they've been through beatings and very dark things. So I don't know, I guess you just try and portray that sense of, they put up a front. In the beginning they put up a front and they're strong and they fight back, but after a while, that whole thing crumbles. It's like a child, it's like a little kid sitting in front of you -- they don't know what to do with their body and they're just kind of confused, they don't really know where to go.