In the haunting thriller Let Me In, actress Chloe Grace Moretz is playing Abby, a frail, troubled child who just moved in next door to an alienated 12-year-old named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), in a small New Mexico town. She lives with her silent father (Richard Jenkins) and emerges from her heavily curtained apartment only at night and always barefoot, seemingly immune to the bitter winter. The two quickly form a unique bond, but Abby’s increasingly bizarre behavior leads Owen to suspect that she’s hiding a very dark secret.
During a roundtable interview while at Comic-Con, co-stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins talked about what they thought of the original film, how their version is different and what they learned from working with each other. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: What did you guys think of the original film?
Richard: I absolutely loved it. It’s hard not to love it. It was very human.
Chloe: I’ve seen parts of it, and I thought the parts that I have seen were really stunning. It was very well made.
Was there a temptation to avoid watching the film, so that it didn’t influence your own performance?
Richard: Well, I didn’t watch it beforehand.
Chloe: Me either.
Richard: That’s the death blow. You can’t do that. Matt told everyone, including the cinematographer, “Just don’t see it,” because you can’t help let it influence you. It’s almost like adapting a novel into a screenplay. If you read the novel, you have expectations. And, if you’ve seen something first, it’s just hard to do, so I didn’t.
Chloe: That’s how I feel about people seeing the movie. Put all the controversy aside and just go see the film for what it is and see what you take from it.
There is a controversy because of the die-hard fans who love the original and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but a lot of audiences just will not read subtitles. Did Matt talk to you about why they decided to remake this film?
Richard: Yeah, he did. And, there is nothing wrong with the original, but that’s not why you always do a remake. It’s usually because you respect and love the original, and there is something else you want to say. Something in that movie and in that book spoke to Matt, and it had to do with the relationship of these two young kids, and especially Owen. If I was 12 or 15 and I saw this movie, I would say, “It’s about me. They’re talking to me.” And, I think that was something that he found so intriguing, in making this film. The original movie is absolutely brilliant. There’s no question about it. Because of its brilliance, I said, “Do you know the risk you’re taking?” He said, “I understand, but it’s something I really need to do.”
The relationship that you guys have in the original has certain insinuations and a lot of things you can draw from it, but there is nothing explicit about it. Has that changed in the American version?
Richard: A little bit. It’s not explicit, but it’s a little more definitive.
Chloe: It goes deeper into the story.
Richard: I think it clarifies it and, by the end, you see exactly what their relationship is.
Has this version been expanded visually?
Richard: There isn’t a lot of special effects. The way Matt conceived the car crash was really cool, but it wasn’t green screen or anything. It was a seamless cut, and the way that he did it was really cool.
Chloe: Along with all the kills that the vampire does, it was the same thing. Most of them were real, and not effects. The scene in the tunnel, I know he’s going to add more crazy knocking back and forth, but other than that, it was all real prosthetics and stuff.
When you guys read a role, what does it take for you to want to sign on?
Chloe: I just look for roles that are 100% completely different than who I am, as a person. I like to go into these different places and explore all these emotions and figure out everything about a character. It really depends on the script and what’s a good character. Of course, I won’t go overboard with it, but I like gritty material.
Richard: It’s the price that interests me. No. I do it, if I read it and respond to it. It’s an emotional thing. And, I’ll do it, if I think I can bring something to it. If I read it and go, “I’m not even sure what yet, but I think I can bring something to this,” then I’ll do it. Sometimes you read it and go, “Someone else could do this better than me.” So, if I think I can bring something to it and I really like it, then I’ll do it.
What did you guys learn from each other, by working together?
Richard: Not to do it again. No.
Chloe: I think I learned more from Richard than he has from me.
Richard: I’ve played a lot of fathers in my life, and it seems that my kids are getting older and older in films, and I’m always surprised at how good they are. I don’t know why I am, but I’m just always taken aback by how good they are. Maybe it’s their age, but I’ve been doing this long enough that you’d think I’d learn. Chloe would be goofing around and being a kid, and they they’d go, “Action!,” and I’d almost want to stop and go, “Woah, where did you learn how to do that?”
Chloe, did you learn any acting tricks from working with Richard?
Chloe: People always ask, but it’s more of an emotional thing. When Abby and her keeper really connect, it’s more of an emotional thing. It’s like when you look into another actor’s eyes and they give back. You give them your all in the scenes and, when they give back to you their all, it makes for really good emotion.
Richard: And, you put Vicks in your eyes, if you have to cry. Actually, I was on stage with a guy who did that and, once the crying scene was over, he cried for the entire play because it makes you tear. He was crying for three acts.
Chloe, can you talk about working with Kodi Smit-McPhee and establishing that relationship with your characters?
Chloe: Kodi is an amazing actor. Being able to work opposite a kid who’s just really, really amazing was great. There was that emotional connection, where he gave back to me what I gave to him. That always makes for a good relationship, in the character and in real life, too. With every actor, you could fake a relationship on screen, but it’s a lot more work. When you actually have an emotional bond, in real life, and you’re really good friends, then everything flows naturally and you just let it go. It’s like a love/hate relationship. I call him an emo and he calls me a chav. It’s a British term for a person who wears really baggy pants and thinks he’s cool, but he’s really not cool because he tries way too hard to be cool.
Were you familiar with Matt Reeves? Had you seen Cloverfield?
Chloe: I loved Cloverfield!
For more Let Me In coverage, here’s our recap of the Comic-Con panel.