We might not have telekinetic powers, but the gay community knows what it’s like to be Carrie. We know the torment from kids at school. We know the pressure from parents to change who we are.
It only makes sense, then, that a lesbian filmmaker – Boys Don’t Cry writer/director Kimberly Peirce – give her spin on Stephen King’s creepy classic, first adapted to screen in 1976 with Sissy Spacek in the titular role.
The reboot stars 16-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie (Julianne Moore plays her intensely religious mother, Margaret White). We caught up with Moretz to chat about her gay brothers’ inspiring this take on the iconic character, the queerness of Peirce’s reimagining and why people think the actress is a lesbian (but shouldn’t).
As if you weren’t cool enough, you recently told the press that you stuck up for your brothers when they were being teased for being gay.
Aww, thank you. People say that, but I don’t even do it to have that effect. I do it because I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong, and I grew up with my two gay brothers who were completely ostracized and manipulated into thinking what they were feeling, from the time they were born, was wrong and sinful and potentially life-threatening. That’s so aggravating to think about that when someone can, you know, smoke their entire life and people would never judge them. But just because you choose to be with the same sex, people can be a little cagey.
How much of your brothers’ personal experience became a part of your experience on Carrie? Did you have them in mind while you were playing her?
Yeah, of course. Whenever you play a character that is going through certain things and you can, in some way, understand them even more – when you have a personal aspect that can actually relate to the character – then it takes (the role) to a whole other level, because you’ve seen it and you’ve experienced it.
Why didn’t people mess with you when you were younger? They obviously didn’t know you’d grow up to be Carrie.
(Laughs) I dealt with a lot of stuff when I was younger. I had girls tell me it was a dress-up party and I showed up in a ballet-dancing outfit and it turned out that it wasn’t a dress-up party. No one was dressed up except for me.
Bullying, particularly in the LGBT community, has been a hot topic in the last few years. With that said, how is Carrie particularly relevant now?
It strikes a definite chord within us because we have seen these kids who have been pushed so far and have been so isolated and so ostracized within their communities that they eventually emotionally combust in several different ways: in suicide, in massacres, in whatever else. And the sadness about this movie is, it’s what you’ve seen in real life; it’s just portrayed on a screen. It’s relevant because of the things that have been going on, and it strikes a deeper chord than it did in the ’70s.
What was it like working with Kimberly Peirce?
Working with Kim is something that’s always been a dream for me. She’s an absolutely brilliant director and she taught me so much as an actor, especially not being scared to jump into things. Also, she shared a lot of her personal experiences with me. Because Kim is a lesbian, I saw a whole other side of what she went through (being gay) in a different time period. It was interesting to see the different takes on it, me being a young straight kid who’s never had to deal with that. I’ve dealt with bullying in different aspects, but my friends who are lesbians – and gay people in general – have dealt with another level of bullying.
Does the lesbian question come up often for you – not because you have two gay brothers, but because I saw a YouTube video of you simply stating, “I’m not a lesbian”?
(Laughs) Wait, what? Why’d I say that? Did someone ask me?
There’s no context to the video; it’s literally just you debunking a lesbian rumor.
I’ve actually gotten so much shit my entire career. Because of the characters I play, people have always said, “Oh my god, are you a lesbian because you play an action hero?” And it’s just like, “Noooo! And why are you so stereotypical for thinking that you can’t be a strong woman without being a lesbian?”
Why do you gravitate toward strong female roles?
They’re close to home. For me, playing these fiercer characters is easiest for me. Where I thrive the most is playing these characters that are strong and forthright. Just being able to play characters like Carrie who are vulnerable and scared is more of a stretch for me and more of an acting job, which I find particularly a bit more interesting. But I also love playing the fierce, empowering female characters, just because I think we’ve passed the point in time where female actors always have to be the damsel in distress.
You must know that gay men really admire strong female characters. Because of the tough roles you play, how would you feel one day being regarded as a gay icon?
That’d be crazy! It’d be such an honor to be considered that. I think that is a community that, when they recognize you and accept you into the fold, it is one that is very, very true and honest and they are very supportive. That’s all my brothers want from me!
Did Kimberly leave her queer mark on this film?
Yeah. Honestly, I think what I found interesting is, with her take on it she didn’t exploit female characters. I feel like in a lot of movies, especially horror movies, women tend to become sexually exploited. I think working with a female director – one that is a lesbian – she definitely respects women more. I found that enlightening in a way, and refreshing compared to a lot of male directors who just want, you know, sex in their movies because they think that’s what hits the teen community.
You have Laggies with Keira Knightley coming out soon. Rumor is there’s some lesbian action between you and Keira. So … is there?
(Laughs) There isn’t any! That was such a lie. It’s so funny. I talked to Keira about that and she said, with every single movie she’s ever done, that’s a rumor and she doesn’t know why it’s a rumor. But literally, in any movie she does with another female actor, that rumor comes out.
Would you be up for it if the role required it?
If it’s appropriately done, I don’t have any fears about it. It’s a real part of life, and as an actor you have to be able to portray any character. If it’s a brilliant role with a great director and a great script and everything else, then why not?
Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at www.chris-azzopardi.com.