Chloe Grace Moretz on Martin Scorsese, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the 3D “Hugo”

By Sean O’Connell There’s a delicious irony to the fact that Isabelle, Chloe Grace Moretz’s inquisitive character from Martin Scorsese’s capricious “Hugo,” has never seen a movie. After all, the versatile actress already has played a vampire (“Let Me In”), an ass-kicking superhero (“Kick-Ass”), and a socially savvy middle schooler (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) … all before turning 15.

Moretz gives yet another performance extending beyond her years in Scorsese’s period adventure, the director’s first foray into 3D storytelling that also waves the flag for film preservation — a passion of the Oscar-winning filmmaker. That’s one of the topics Moretz and I explored during a recent sit-down conversation in New York City on behalf of “Hugo.” Here’s Chloe Grace Moretz: There’s a wonderful scene of your character going to the cinema for the very first time. Who brought you to the movies for the first time, and what did you see?

Chloe Grace Moretz: One of the most amazing films I ever saw for the first time was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” And I think that was one of the reasons why I wanted to act is because I saw Audrey Hepburn light up the screen. I completely fell in love with her, and I realized that’s what I wanted to be. Who showed it to you?

My mom did. She loves Audrey, and she loves old movies. My brother does, too. So it was that and “The Wizard of Oz.” But these aren’t films that you are able to see on the big screen, though.

No, no. I watched them at home on our home theater. Do you have a specific memory of your first trip to the theater?

That’s harder. I don’t really know. It was probably a Disney movie. Something like “Mulan” or another film like that. Back then, did you anticipate how much work it would be to reach this level?

Yeah. I always find it to be fun, though. It definitely is hard work, but I find it to be a lot of fun. I wake up on set every day and I can’t wait to get on set and dress up. I can’t wait to be my character and just act. Let’s talk about this set. I wish I had weeks to simply explore Scorsese’s train set. How much of it was actually there, and how much is added digitally?

It was a full-scale train station. It was built in two studios placed side by side, which made it gigantic. And they built, to scale, an actual train station. It truly was one of the most magnificent things I’d ever seen. I walked in and saw it for the first time and thought, “It’s really happening.” It was beautiful. Let me ask you one last thing. The theme of this movie is film preservation, and I’m wondering what’s the earliest piece of film you can remember seeing yourself on?

Oh, my brother, Trevor, was always filming me when I was a little girl. He would dress me up in little costumes. At one point, he dressed me up like Snow White. He had me running around the backyard as Snow White. At one point, he dressed me up in like a Princess Leia outfit. Kind of like jeans and a top. And he put me in the pool, on a raft. Then he wrapped the pool scrubber – that thing that moves around and cleans the bottom of the pool – around the raft as if I was being taken under by a sea monster. And my mom walked out and screamed, “Why do you have the four-year-old in the pool?” And he was like, “I’m trying to get the shot, mom!” We would use fake dolly tracks. We’d get on an ATV and try to get driving car shots. You really have been immersed in this business from the earliest age.

I have been acting since before I was born! [laughs]

Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” co-stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Asa Butterfield, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer and Sir Ben Kingsley. It opens in theater on Nov. 23.

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