Chloë Grace Moretz recalls 'wearing a mask' as a kid when trying to conform to gender norms

Chloë Grace Moretz has been playing a part all her life. But it wasn’t always for work. Moretz grew up with four brothers and a single mom, and she revealed in an interview for BUILD yesterday that she fell into all the gender norms as a kid.

The 21-year-old is promoting her new film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which is about a young queer woman who enters conversion therapy in the 1990s. While Moretz may not have experienced this teenager’s specific struggles in her own life, she can relate to her character’s journey to figure out where she fits in with societal norms.

“I grew up on a very interesting platform where I wasn’t viewed as one of the boys or one of the girls,” she said of her childhood with her four brothers — two of them gay and two straight — and her single mom.

Chloë Grace Moretz, Forrest Goodluck, director Desiree Akhavan, and John Gallagher Jr. took to the BUILD stage to talk about their new film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

It got more complicated as she got older. “It wasn’t until I grew up that I was faced with the societal oppression of femininity and what our view and projection of being a woman is,” the actress said. She recalls trying to put herself in the dresses people wanted her to wear “and wearing a mask in a lot of ways.”

Her self-identity has “definitely changed and shaped itself” over the years, she said, but taking a break from acting and then delving into more emotionally challenging roles helped her find her footing and understand “this new kind of formulated idea of who I am as Chloë Grace Moretz the young woman, the person.”

At the same time, she agrees with her character’s desire not to put herself in a box. “I like to not put labels on many things in my life,” she shared. “I think it’s important to feel what you feel toward who you feel it with, and if someone’s a good person, I don’t need to ask whether or not they are gay, straight, bi, or whatever. I just want to know you and meet you and have an emotional connection.” As a fierce advocate for the LGBT community, she hopes to see a time when people don’t have to come out. “It’s just whether or not you’re a solid person … you’re a good person to the community and to humanity.”

The opportunity to support the LGBT community was one of the reasons she was attracted to the lead role in The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

“[Cameron] gave me the opportunity to take my love and advocacy for the LGBT community and be able to push that through art and entertainment and be able to teach people while having it be exciting and emotionally moving,” said shared. But that’s not the only reason she took the role; she was also ready to move on from the blockbusters that helped make her famous. “I had just released a couple of very large movies, and people enjoyed them and it was seemingly really going well, but I felt that in some way I was selling myself short emotionally and my capacity as an actor, I wasn’t fulfilling that, my potential,” the Kick-Ass star revealed.

So, she pulled out of the movies she was committed to and took a year and a half off from films. “I just read and I listened to myself and I tried to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be.” While her agents saw this daring script for a low-budget film as a risk, all of their fears “just lit a fire” under her, she said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a character like this depicted onscreen before.”

Moretz, who campaigned for Hilary Clinton during her presidential run, was challenged further when the election took place during filming. “The preproduction was during the Obama era, and literally halfway through the film the election happened, and we woke up realizing, that … we all know what happened … I don’t even like to say the name,” she said in reference to President Trump. It hit particularly close to home for this cast because Vice President Mike Pence is rumored to support gay conversion therapy. But instead of sitting in her sorrow, she decided to keep filming. “In that moment, we were all in mourning, and it was incredibly difficult, but that was the moment when I realized this is the highest form of rebellion we could do, this is the highest form of activism we could do.”

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