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Chloë Grace Moretz on The Peripheral, Jack Reynor bond and TV vs film

As The Peripheral season 1’s final episode arrives on Amazon Prime Video, we spoke to Chloë Grace Moretz about sci-fi dystopias and her Peaky Blinders love. Dateline 2032, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. In sci-fi series The Peripheral, we meet Flynne, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, 25, test-driving a virtual reality game for her brother (Jack Reynor).

Dateline 2099, London: Flynne is flung into the future, her in-game avatar zipping around on a motorbike, battling killer robot chauffeurs and trying to save tomorrow’s world – while also fighting off dark web assassins back in her present. Dateline 2011, New York: the last time I met Moretz, when she was promoting Martin Scorsese’s Hugo alongside co-star and fellow 14-year-old Asa Butterfield. “I was a little baby girl!”

I was really hesitant on being a lead in a television series. I knew from friends that it was quite an undertaking – something you have to sit with for eight months, and really care about a character to go that deep. Then this came on my radar. You hear

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William Gibson and [producers] Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan – if you’re a sci-fi fan, which I am, those are three very cool heavy-hitters. This show, Nolan and Joy’s Westworld, your 2021 film Mother/Android: these are dystopian tales. Is current sci-fi so dark as a reflection of our society?

This show is actually contrary to other sci-fi. Yes, the future to which they are travelled is pretty bleak… But depending on what they learn, they could use that information to mitigate their impending doom. When you look at our politics, economy and environment, does it make you pessimistic about our future It’s hard to not be pessimistic, especially when we envelop ourselves in the 24-hour news cycle. But I do try to be a glass-half-full kind of gal. Otherwise, it’d be very hard to get out of bed in the morning.

Are you a gamer?

I grew up gaming! I have four older brothers, and they were always bigger and stronger than me. But it was one of the ways that I could best them at every corner.

Given your brothers’ involvement in the business of your career, was Flynne’s closeness to her brother relatable?
Definitely. On top of that, when Jack and I signed on, we said to the producers: ‘We’d love to get to know each other.’ And our first FaceTime, we spent three hours talking about our lives… So much so that by the time we finally got to London, everyone was like: “Wait? Didn’t you guys just meet?” We were really like brother and sister from the jump.

What does setting the far-future storyline in London bring that setting it in, say, New York wouldn’t have?
There’s such a massive juxtaposition between the American South and London. Also, I never hear the Southern accent against the RP British accent. And it’s a real fish-out-of-water story. To see how Flynne mutates herself to fit in better – at least for the first season, I don’t think that would have been as interesting if it had been localised within America still.

What are the positives of television compared to film?

The fact you get to delve into the psyche of a character over the course of eight months. You have 600, 700 pages of dialogue. It was a 117-day shoot, and I was in 113 out of those. I’ve worked 20 years at this point, and I was taken aback by the ferocity of it. It’s a very intense pace… But I like to bite off more than I can chew.

What have you been enjoying on television?

I’ve been watching a lot of House of the Dragon. That’s a lot of fun. Once we got to the older years, it was cool to see the growth and grasp of it all. They’ve done a good job with that show. And before that, Peaky Blinders, which I was a little behind on. But it got released in America way later than in the UK. I love those Birmingham accents so much!

As you said, you’ve been doing this for two decades. What do you wish you’d known earlier as an actor?

One of the big ones is to trust my intuition. I relied heavily on the influx of information of those around me. And sometimes I went against my better judgement of what I artistically wanted. In 2016, you said you were “re-assessing” your roles and withdrew from a planned live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. What happened there? It just was the timeframe of my life. I had a lot of things lined up, the next two years of my life planned out for me. I felt really over-inundated. For the first time in my career, I was not connecting to the parts that I was choosing to do.

If people have a perception of you because you’ve been acting for so long, what is that perception?

It’s easy for people to think of me as either 12, or that I’m so much older. It’s this funny juxtaposition where it’s: “Oh, it’s that girl from Kick-Ass!” Or: “Wow, I grew up with her, she must be older than me!” I’m like, no dude, I’m definitely the same age as you!

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