From writer/director Mattson Tomlin and producer Matt Reeves, the sci-fi thriller Mother/Android is set in the near future and follows Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith), as they try to survive in a world at war with artificial intelligence. Being able to escape would give them the opportunity for a better life for their soon to be born first child, but a dangerous journey and murderous androids standing in their way make everything seem impossible.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Moretz talked about her reaction to reading this script for the first time, having a hand in helping tell such a personal story for the filmmaker, working with a very heavy pregnancy belly, how much she’s enjoyed evolving with her career, how she wanted to approach the film’s ending, and why it was one of the most life-changing experiences she’s had.
CHLOE GRACE MORETZ: [Do you have] an Emily the Strange shirt on?
Collider: Yeah, I do.
MORETZ: Nice! For a little while there, we were in talks for me to play Emily the Strange, when I was younger. That would have been cool.
Yeah, we actually talked about that once, back when it was possibly happening.
MORETZ: I was 14 and that would’ve been super cool.
It’s weird that they’ve never done anything with that property.
MORETZ: I know. Especially in this age of streamers, I think it would be really interesting.
I’ve always loved the character.
MORETZ: Yeah, me too.
This film has such an interesting balance, between this deeply personal human story and this deeply impersonal and cold android story. When this project came your way, what was your reaction, the first time you read the script?
MORETZ: I already knew about Mattson Tomlin, as an amazing writer. This came from Matt Reeves and Rafi [Crohn], over at their production company, and I trust them so inherently, from the Let Me In days. When they brought Mattson and his project to me, I immediately read the script and finished it within probably 90 minutes. It was a thrill ride. The way that he threaded the needle between that juxtaposition, with the coldness and apocalyptic circumstances of it all, but also the motherhood and the love, and the complications of being a young mother in a relationship where there’s already division in a lot of ways, and also, on top of that, it being a love letter to Mattson’s biological parents. This is a story based on his own true life and what he found out about his parents’ story. That personal touch to it is one that sci-fi films don’t often have. But when you can put that into a genre film, I find that those are the best types of genre films, when have that gravity to them. You can have all of this frivolity, in a lot of ways, and expansion, but at the heart of it, you have a real story.
When you read a script, do you go into it with an eye on the character you’d be playing to see what you’d be doing, or do you try to read it more for the overall story, the first time you experience it?
MORETZ: It’s definitely a two-sided thing. On one hand, it’s what is this character like? What would it be like to become this character? What would it feel like to step into her shoes? Does it scare me, as an actor? Does it get the fire underneath you lit to wanna have that drive to sink your teeth into it? And then, on the other hand, you wanna read it as if you’re watching it and see how much of it lends itself to viewership. Is it interesting? Is it exciting? Is it enticing? Does it flow? How much work might need to be done to the script? It’s all of those things. But honestly, this was perfect as is. There were just little things that I wanted to find with Algee [Smith] in the conversation pieces, that felt right for the character and to make her not this glowing matriarchal, “pregnancy is amazing” female character, but more like, “This is fucking hard. This is difficult. Do we wanna do this? How are we doing this? Can we rise above it?”
Your primary co-star in this film is the pregnant belly. What was that like to wear? Was it different than you expected?
MORETZ: It was so difficult. It was a 21-pound silicone belly attached to a corset. A corset is already hard. A 21-pound belly on the corset was not very easy. But it was important that we find the right closures for it. I didn’t wanna feel agile and light and easy. I wanted it to feel arduous and difficult. That was the mainstay, when I talked to new mothers and women who have had children. Across the board, they talked about how pregnancy’s not easy. It’s very difficult. And when you’re about to pop, you’re pretty over it, at that point, and you’re just ready to have the baby. I wanted to add to that and have restricted breathing by the corset. That way, in those emotional moments, like in the tent between the two characters, when we’re talking, it’s hard to get your words out. When your heart rate starts to go up and you’re restricted in that way, the constraint of it all was very interesting to play with.
You’ve grown up as an actor and you’ve been developing your craft for a long time now. You’ve already played such iconic characters, with Kick-Ass, Let Me In, Carrie, and even voicing one of The Addams Family. How differently do you feel, as an actor, at this point in your life now, compared to what you remember about your earliest experiences? You’re still so young, but you’ve already had such a full career.
MORETZ: For sure. I agree with you on that one. It’s been really fun and exciting to be a able to, for lack of a better word, reinvent myself in different facets of my timeline in my life. I’ve gone from being a child actor, to being a teen actor, to doing romance for the first time on screen, and loss for the first time on screen, and then growing up and getting out of the high school years, and now being past that college range, where I can play a first-time mother and a young mother and put in new facets of womanhood, and what that looks like. Especially now in a day and age where it’s not the trophy female characters that you’re given, you’re able to play more multifaceted characters that are more interesting and more realistic to the human experience of being a woman. So, it’s been exciting. It’s been something where I’ve learned, more and more, to trust myself and trust my gut, and I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had.
At the end of this film, your character is faced with a choice, in order to give her child a chance at the best life possible. What was your reaction to that ending when you first read it and you felt that moment?
MORETZ: I was sobbing, when I first read that entire moment. It was a sequence, for me, that I was a little afraid of. I was afraid of it because I wanted to do it justice for Mattson. I wanted to put as much care behind it as I possibly could, for him and for the story, and to honor his parents, and to honor the baby. I had a rule, from the very beginning, after reading it the first time, once I signed onto it, I said, “I don’t wanna walk through it. I don’t wanna read it out loud. I don’t wanna rehearse it. I wanna see where we’re gonna be and, on the day, let’s just do it.” It was something where I didn’t wanna hear the words more than once. I wanted it to hit in the moment on screen, for the first time.
Luckily, we shot the film predominantly chronologically, so this was at the very end. We had gone through the mountains, we had fought the Androids, and we had done all of these things. At that point, as a woman, your hormones are all over the place, and I was almost in this psychosomatic mindscape, where you feel like it’s your child. I had this baby belly, and then we did the birthing scene where I held baby, and then, here we are, faced with this question. And then, I asked Mattson to narrate the letter, as I wrote it., it being the letter from his mother. It was so compounded that I don’t know if I’ll have an experience like that on another film. It was very singular, but it was one of the most beautiful and life-changing things I’ve ever been through, quite frankly, with him beside me. I was not okay.
It’s a beautiful moment. It’s a tragic moment. It’s all of the things that come with motherhood and it really encapsulates what this story is.
MORETZ: A hundred percent. I really think that he did it in a way, with the music and the score and the editing, that is everything I think you need as a viewer, to feel their story and to walk through that story. It was so delicately handled. He really made a movie that I haven’t seen before, in a lot of ways.
Mother/Android is available to stream at Hulu.