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Hugo - Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz interview


Interview by Rob Carnevale

CHLOE Moretz and Asa Butterfield discuss some of their experiences of making Hugo with Martin Scorsese, including being given an education on film by their director and working in 3D.

Q. This is about the power of movies to inspire people. Can you remember the first time you sat in the cinema and were really inspired by a film?
Chloe Moretz: Yeah definitely, my mum has always been pretty obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, as am I, so one of the first films I saw that really inspired me to be an actor and be someone else would probably be Breakfast at Tiffany’s because I saw Audrey Hepburn and I saw how she just lit up the screen. She makes you smile when you see her and her little face. She just lights up the screen. And when I saw that I realised that that’s what I’d like to do. I wanted to make people smile, I wanted to make people dream and imagine that they’re in that time and that feeling. So, I guess that’s one of the things that really inspired me to be an actress.

Q. And Asa?
Asa Butterfield: Well, it wasn’t so much watching a film that inspired me, it was during the filming of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, where this switch sort of flicked in my head. Before that, I didn’t really take acting that seriously… I saw it as a pastime, an extra-curricular activity if you will, but about halfway through the filming I sort of realised that this is something I really wanted to do, which was a passion of mine, and ever since I’ve just tried really hard to be the best I can be and just enjoy it. I mean, I just love being someone who you wouldn’t be able to be in real life and to do things which are impossible. It’s magic.

Q. What did you think of the films of Georges Melies that you saw?
Asa Butterfield: I loved them. I mean Martin gave us lots of homework to watch old films made by Georges and things that inspired him to become a director. One of the first films I saw that he showed me was The Magic Box

Chloe Moretz: Yeah, I wanted to see The Magic Box and it was one of those magical experiences because Marty was there and everyone like that. So, it was a surreal moment when you know that you’re doing a movie with Marty as a young actress, as a 13/14-year-old. He gave us the whole reel.


Asa Butterfield: I think the first Melies film I saw was when Marty flew us out to New York and we were jet-lagged, so me and my mum woke up about 3am, we were bored, there was nothing to do because it was still dark outside, and we didn’t have any room service, so we got the laptop, went on the Internet and we watched some of Georges Melies’ films on YouTube, which was great fun. We watched Safety Last [Harold Lloyd] as well.

Q. Was it a different experience for you making a 3D film?
Asa Butterfield: Well, it’s quite different. As an actor you have to kind of forget about the camera. It’s more for Marty and the DoP and the special effects teams to look at. Occasionally, there was the ‘3D moment’ as they call it… where you reach towards the camera. They did a lot with Sasha [Baron Cohen]… he’d lean right in so that he could come out into the audience. That was great fun. But it wasn’t that much of a change other than the fact that it made everything take a lot longer.

Q. Was it the same for you, Chloe?
Chloe Moretz: Just as Sir Ben said, acting is reacting and with this you can’t over-act, you can only react because it picks up everything. It picks up the lint in the air, the fibre of an eye… it’s really a window into your soul as an actor because what you see is the character. You know, you see Isabelle, you see Hugo, you see Papa Georges, you see Mama Jeanne… you don’t see Sir Ben, Chloe or Asa – you see these people and it’s like a black hole. It sucks you in and makes you cry with them and it makes you be a part of it, especially with the steam and everything around you. You can feel the heat and the smell of the smoke and just the feeling of a 1930s Parisian train station.

Read our review of Hugo

Read our interview with Martin Scorsese