Kick-Ass star Chloë Grace Moretz leads Aotearoa director Roseanne Liang’s pulpy action war thriller Shadow in the Cloud, now playing in cinemas (find times and tickets). Flicks’ Amanda Jane Robinson jumped on a Zoom call with Moretz to talk about her experience shooting the film, working with Liang, fighting claustrophobia, and more.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY
What attracted you to the character of Maude?
What didn’t attract me to the character of Maude? She was a woman that I felt was so multifaceted and I think that is massively because of Roseanne Liang. She knew how important it was to bring this character to the screen and I felt honoured to be able to do so.
And of course, it is a twisty, fun, action-packed thriller, so to be able to also have the element of excitement and that popcorn-eating edge-of-your-seat thrill ride is something that I always love being a part of.
At what point did you first meet with Roseanne Liang and talk with her about the film?
It was pretty early on when I got to talk to Roseanne; pretty much right off the bat. I got sent the script and I was immediately interested in even just the logline because it was wild.
When I read the script, it was so exciting and I finished it super quick. I needed to meet Roseanne and wanted to hear what her vision was and who she was. I was already a big fan of her from her last project. So I was excited to talk to her.
We ended up meeting in person here in L.A. and really hit it off together. We had all the same kind of notes on the character and the interest in Maude were the same for both of us. She was really open to collaborating and doing this together as a team. That was an exciting experience to be able to partner with someone who is so brilliant and so technically smart about the way she works in her job and how she goes about shooting. I felt like she had all the capabilities of accomplishing a project like this, which is incredibly technically daunting.
The first half of this film takes place in this very confined ball turret and I read in an interview with Roseanne that that was a challenge to shoot because you have claustrophobia.
The section where the men are talking to you through your headphones, that’s also how you shot it, is that right? That they were somewhere else and all of your reactions were to their voices through your headphones?
Yeah, they were in one of those storage pods outside of the sound studio that we were filming on. I was alone in this ball and the ball was about 12 feet off the ground on a little rotating mechanical thing they created. And then I was attached to hydraulics in this ball so I could move myself and use the hydraulics to freely move. The only time I could hear them was when my headsets were on. If I took my headsets off, like in reality in the film, I completely lost connection with the boys.
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It was so realistic in the way that we filmed it. And daunting, hard. We were shooting 15-20 pages a day, so in between takes, I would be learning my dialogue for the entirety of next week in this tiny little script that I would carry around. I was learning, and doing, and learning, and doing, and learning, and doing.
I read that you said it was one of the most physically challenging roles you had done. How did you find the physicality of Maude?
I wanted to show her physicality grow over the course of the film. She’s been through basic training, flown in enemy territory where she has to fight back in unarmed planes, she’s weathered a storm. But I really wanted to be indicative that she was weathering an emotional storm in the beginning, especially.
As we see her grow, she gets pushed to that primal instinct to protect against all odds, and that’s where I really wanted to get to in the character. In that moment, she makes that decision right there to do whatever the hell she has to do. And she ends up really going for it.
What was it like working with Roseanne on set?
It was great, it was very technical. We didn’t have a lot of time to get it done, there was a lot of dialogue and a lot of work. It was really like a shotgun shot: the minute we started, we didn’t stop. Especially when we were in the ball turret, it just kept going and going and going.
She was very technical in the way that she would give me my notes back and I work very technically as well, so I think our brains worked well together and she really heard me and would really respect me. Honestly, it was pretty seamless when it could have been a really difficult experience. She handled everything really well and she was a real calm, centred person to work with on set.
Maude’s the only woman on the plane and there’s so much toxic masculinity around but that’s also where her strength comes from. You grew up with four older brothers. How do you think that shaped your relationship to masculinity?
Growing up with four brothers, guys were never a mystery to me. I know exactly who they are and how they work. It also taught me my voice and my words and at the same time; my family really supported me and they always gave me a voice at the table. If anything, they enlivened my voice and kind of pushed me forward even more.
We’ve had some pretty big conversations in our family and they have grown and shaped and learned—especially having two gay brothers and two straight brothers. It was a very interesting dynamic between the five of us.
Who are your action film heroes?
Oh my gosh, I think there are so many people that I looked up to in film. One of the characters that really got me excited about action films when I was younger was Angelina Jolie in Wanted. That was such a crazy movie and that’s why I wanted to do a movie like Kick-Ass. That movie became possible for me within like a month of me watching Wanted.