Hit Girl kicks up a storm
Young Chloe Moretz tells Kate Whiting why she's blessed to be starring with a wetsuited Aaron Johnson
Unfortunately for Chloe Moretz there aren't many 11-year-old stunt girls working in Hollywood. Hence the reason that the pint-sized actress found herself doing 1,000 stomach crunches a night to prepare for her role in action comedy film, Kick Ass.
The 13-year-old actress is about to blow away hordes of fans with her performance as gun-toting Hit Girl in British director Matthew Vaughn's zany homage to comic books.
Wearing a purple wig and a mask, Chloe makes an unforgettable entrance when she skewers a drug dealer with a samurai sword, before announcing, "Okay, you c***s, let's see what you can do!"
Chloe's banned from using such fruity language at home ("My mom and dad would ground me for the rest of my life!") and at 13, she's technically not allowed to watch the 15-rated film, but she says the role was too good to pass up.
Wearing a chic, blue scarf, with her blonde locks tumbling down in perfect curls, Chloe looks like a young star -- and speaks like an adult.
"About a month before the movie started, Wanted came out. Angelina Jolie was playing a very hard character, I could see from the posters, and I said, 'Mum, I really want to play a take-charge, woman empowerment role', and then the Kick Ass script came up . . . I was so blessed to be able to play this character," she says, grinning.
Like all good movie-making stories, the tale of Kick Ass is not straightforward. Scottish comic-book writer Mark Millar, the brains behind Wanted, first spoke to his friend Jonathan Ross about his latest idea: Why does nobody ever try and become a superhero?
Ross in turn told his wife, Jane Goldman, who then told Layer Cake director Vaughn with whom she'd already co-written Stardust. While Millar worked on the comic-book version of Kick Ass, Vaughn and Goldman wrote the script. It had two interweaving storylines -- a father and daughter crime-fighting duo, played by Chloe and Nicolas Cage -- and a high-school kid (Nowhere Boy's Aaron Johnson) who decides to re-style himself as the amateurish title character Kick Ass, complete with green wetsuit.
"Every studio said 'No'," Vaughn recalls. "But I believed in the movie. I thought, 'I'm going to finance this myself.'"
Then came casting. Vaughn was adamant he didn't want an English actor but Aaron Johnson somehow slipped through the net.
"I asked him where he was from, and he said 'Little Chalfont' and I was complimenting him on how good his English accent was and he went, 'No, I am English'. I said, 'Well, you're good enough for the role because you conned me'."
Since then, the 19-year-old's profile has risen, due to both his performance of John Lennon in Sam Taylor-Wood's directorial debut Nowhere Boy, and his marriage to the 43-year-old artist, who is now pregnant with their child.
"I was used to reading loads of scripts at the time, and usually really crummy high-school movies and then this came along. It was kind of Superbad meets Kill Bill, it has this mad edge to it, it was a dark comedy."
He raves about the "family atmosphere" that Vaughn created on set -- he's kept the same crew from his days as a producer on pal Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels -- but he wasn't so keen on wearing a wetsuit 24/7.
"It gets pretty sweaty at times if you're fighting constantly and I had to wear a jockstrap, so it was uncomfortable at times, but you get used to it. I was in the costume probably for about 12 and a half hours every day, for three months, with only two toilet breaks a day. It was enjoyable, but it was mad."
Kick Ass, aka Dave Lizewski, has little success as a superhero, and so Johnson didn't have to train physically for the role, though Chloe had to work hard for hers. Vaughn, who's due to have a third child with model wife Claudia Schiffer, adds: "She never got injured as far as I know, but there's not many 11-year-old stunt girls out there, so we had no choice but to train her up."
Vaughn has a reputation for being something of a starmaker after casting Daniel Craig, Sienna Miller and Vinnie Jones in early roles, and he's sure his young cast are all destined for the heights of stardom, particularly Johnson.
"He looks good and he can act and he's in good movies -- Nowhere Boy and Kick Ass. If that's not a launchpad to stardom, I don't know what is."
For now though Johnson is focussing on just one thing.
"I'll take time off for fatherhood . . . yeah, be a daddy."
Kick Ass opens in cinemas on Wednesday March 31