chloë grace moretz wants to know why we live in a generation that doesn’t respect love, sexuality or itself
Playing a feminist princess in the new Studio Ghibli animation, Chloë continues to go against what the world expects from a young woman in the film industry.
Having played a whole host of powerful female characters - from an 11 year old assassin in 2010's Kick-Ass to the deadly protagonist in the 2013 Carrie remake - 18-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz is now voicing the lead in the latest magical Studio Ghibli animation, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Like Chloë, Kaguya stands up and speaks out against what society expects her to be as a young woman. Taken to the capital, she is expected to live in seclusion as a royal until she finds a worthy suitor but instead rebels, refusing to marry and returning to her home in the forest. Wise beyond her years, the young Hollywood star discusses witnessing Patricia Arquette's impassioned acceptance speech at the Oscars last month, growing up with body dysmorphia, and the changes we need to make to society in order to move forward as equals.
Were you a fan of Studio Ghibli before you voiced Princess Kaguya?
Definitely. When I was younger I saw Spirited Away and it was one of the first films that really showed me the darkness of life. I think I was about six-years-old and it was an eye-opening experience for me. I remember seeing My Neighbour Totoro too, which was more on the lighter side of things, but another Studio Ghibli movie that I completely fell in love with. Obviously when I got the opportunity to work on this, it was just an absolute yes and really awesome to be a part of it.
Unlike so many movie princesses, Kaguya goes against what the world expects from her as a girl. Is her feminism something that attracted you to the role?
Of course! She's going against so much. People always want to put everyone in boxes - especially with women - telling us what we should do, what we should eat, what hair we're supposed to have, what clothes we should wear. We feel that we have to conform to so much that society tells us to do, with all the rules that they put in front of us. I think that Princess Kaguya is a lot like me and other feminists in that she stands up to the people who are telling her what to do with her life and how she should be living and she shows them how she wants to live, you know what I mean? She tries their way of living and it doesn't make her happy, so she chooses instead to do the things that she loves and what makes her happy ultimately.
You presented an award at the Oscars alongside November Criminals co-star Ansel Elgort. Did you see Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech calling for pay equality? What did you think of it?
I did! I think Patricia Arquette's speech was exactly what needed to be said, but I didn't like the fact that the next day she had to come out and apologize. It made me angry because you know, that's your moment to stand on the podium and yes, you thank the academy and yes, you thank everyone that got you there, but you have millions of eyes on you and that's your chance to say what you really wanna say. She vocalized something that hasn't been truly said outright in front of thousands of people like that and when they cut to the front row you had Meryl Streep and Jessica Chastain and every major actress going 'YES! Thank you!' Because those are words that aren't being said for us and no matter how much we say them in interviews, it will not be seen as much as what Patricia did. It was very bold of her, very moving, very needed. And I think that it was the perfect moment because she was in her limelight, being congratulated for everything that she has accomplished. Especially as the Oscars this year were so young and relevant; with the Glory performance, Patricia's speech and Graham Moore winning Best Adapted Screenplay. It was such a great Oscars; everything was perfect.
Do you think that the act of her making that speech will spark a change in the way that people use their platforms?
I hope so. I hope it gives people more confidence to go out there and say what they really want to say, and to not hold back. When we get on a pedestal in front of the eyes of the world, it's so easy to clam up and say what society wants us to say. I think it's incredibly bold and strong to actually do what you feel is right, because you feel so obligated in that moment to do what is written for you.
What issues are close to your heart?
I read something yesterday that a young man came out and said that we don't live in a generation of date rape and women being taken advantage of, and I thought it was so closed-minded of him. In the generation that we live in right now, we don't respect our bodies; we don't use sex as it should be used. It should be used for love and it should be used when you feel so connected with someone that you have to go to that spot. Now, it's almost prostitution; we have apps like Tinder where people meet up just to have sex and never talk again. I just think that we live in a generation where we don't respect ourselves, we don't respect love, we don't respect sexuality. And men don't respect women, at all. Chivalry is dead. And I'm not saying that I need you need to open every door for me, because I don't want that. I want independence and I wanna open my own door. But if I open the door for you, you can open it for me too. It's an equal kind of place that we need to find, and I think it needs to be found sexually, educationally, and in business. All of these issues are affecting each other and it's affecting the upbringing of our next generation because these young girls are gonna grow up looking for advice from their older sisters and their mothers. They're gonna ask how they met their partners and they'll be like 'well, I liked their Instagram photo and then we hooked up one night!' You know what I mean? These days things usually start with sexual encounters, whereas they used to start with emotional encounters.
Totally. And what do you think of Emma Watson's He For She?
I think it's amazing! I think that it's really smart to put it in the man's hands and say, look, you guys have all the power right now, so let's twist this and you can become feminists too! Because being a feminist isn't just about putting down men and being angry. It's about equality. There is no black and white; it's grey. We need equality and we all need to step at the same pace. That way, we can move forward together. The issue of men growing up thinking they need abs and that everyone needs to look like a Calvin Klein model is just as big as young women seeing Victoria's Secret ads. I grew up with complete body dysmorphia and even for the last two years still thought I was a heavier set girl. I do have to admit that even now, I look at myself in the mirror and think 'I need to do this to myself, I need to do that' and I still have to remind myself every day that I am beautiful the way that I am, and that I can achieve anything that I want to achieve. I do honestly chalk a lot of that up to Victoria's Secret and Disney and all these major companies that don't understand how much they're affecting children. We can help by giving men the power to be feminists and to saying, 'Look, we're accepting you too. We understand. We've all gone through the same thing.' So let's step forwards together and build a society where it doesn't matter what sex you are, what color you are, what religion you have. Love is love. Work is work. That's how it should be.
STUDIOCANAL's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is in cinemas now
Text Francesca Dunn