Actress's Head, Cellist's Body Digitally Fused in Film 'If I Stay'
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 05:43 PM
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.