Actress's Head, Cellist's Body Digitally Fused in Film 'If I Stay'

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 05:43 PM

Chloe Grace Moretz in 'If I Stay' Chloe Grace Moretz in 'If I Stay' (DiNovi Pictures)

In "If I Stay," the actress Chloë Grace Moretz plays Mia Hall, a 16-year-old cello prodigy with a shot at getting into Juilliard. The story focuses on how her life suddenly changes when she and members of her family get in a car accident. Things are further complicated by a rock 'n' roller boyfriend.

The film, which opens on Friday, raises one perennial challenge actors face when playing classical musicians on screen: how to look convincing in music performance scenes.

The 17-year-old Moretz has told several interviewers that the film's producers ultimately decided to use a musical body double for cello scenes. But first she spent seven months studying the instrument. She tells Scripps Media:

I trained with it every day for two hours a day as much as I could. Honestly, I'd be silly to say that in seven months I could learn such an intricate instrument. So really it was learning the emotionality of it and how you have to surrender your soul to the instrument.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, she added that the goal was not perfection. "It was more, for me, being comfortable with an instrument like that — something that is very intimate the way you hold it," she said.

Eventually, however, Moretz says the studio turned to digital smoke and mirrors: a "Frankenstein cutting of taking my head and putting it on another body of someone playing." A cast listing for the movie includes no fewer than nine digital effects editors.

Watch the trailers below and tell us what you think: Is the grafting of cellist and actress suitably convincing?



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Comments [7]

Lewis from San Francisco, USA

Alisa Weilerstein is the cellist body double.

Aug. 21 2014 10:10 PM
Walt from Mouseville

Yes, Honora. But that was only for the love scenes.

Aug. 21 2014 11:20 AM
Honora from Jersey City

I think they spliced Robert Alda's head onto Oscar Levant's body in "Rhapsody in Blue" back in 1945. For the time it was a pretty good visual effect.

Aug. 21 2014 10:58 AM
Walt from Mouseville

Does the cello have a musical role in this digital tearjerker? Or is it just a prop?

Aug. 21 2014 10:09 AM
Eric N Peguero from Cincinnati, OH

Who was the cellist? :)

Aug. 21 2014 08:31 AM
Bernie from UWS


Didn't Joshua Bell act as a body double in The Red Violin? They even had him play while they showed the actor's face? Hard to do here I guess.

Aug. 20 2014 03:52 PM

Well...they managed to not include a closeup scene of her playing cello, so the jury is still out.

Aug. 20 2014 07:12 AM

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