'If I Stay' Stars and Author Defend Movie as More Than Another YA Tale

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Chloe Grace Moretz, Gayle Forman and Jamie Blackley at Monday night's screening

"It's just real life and real moments"

On its surface, this Friday's If I Stay seems like a familiar film. It's a big-screen adaptation of a beloved, best-selling young adult novel about teenagers in love amid traumatic circumstances.

Indeed, the movie is just the latest in a long line of YA adaptations, coming on the heels of The Giver, The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent and The Hunger Games, many of which were released in the past 12 months. But If I Stay is different than the titles that have come before it, star Chloe Grace Moretz said, because it's so authentic.

"It's a story about a family and how a family loves each other. It's just a normal story with a normal girl, and I think that that's different than any of the other stories out there right now," Moretz told The Hollywood Reporter at a New York screening of the New Line Cinema/MGM film on Monday. "We have no Hollywood cliche. It's just real life and real moments. You're literally peeking into the window inside of a house and you watch all of this depict itself, and then you walk away."

In fact, it was the chance to play a "normal girl" that appealed Moretz, who previously played a kid superhero in the Kick-Ass films and starred in horror movies like Let Me In and last year's Carrie remake.

"I don't think we depict enough normal girls in Hollywood. I think we try to pin labels on everyone, so I think I enjoyed making a movie about a normal girl who's put through a very tough decision, which happens sadly a lot in this world," Moretz added.

Indeed, the film does have a tragic storyline, as Moretz's normal teenage girl, Mia, winds up in a coma after a devastating car accident. As she looks back on her life, her family, her passion for playing the cello and her up-and-down relationship with fellow musician and first love Adam, played by Jamie Blackley, Mia has to decide whether to live or die.

"It deals with essential themes of life and love and family and friendships and passion for music and first love — there are so many themes in which we dealt with since we were 5 and 6 years old. So I think that even if you don't know the original story, you're gonna be able to comprehend it on a higher level," Moretz said of the story's appeal beyond the book's rabid, mostly teenage fan base, which was well represented by a large crowd at the screening, co-presented by Refinery29.

Blackley added that after watching a film about an unexpected accident, many theatergoers might want to just call their moms and thank them for everything.

Author Gayle Forman argued that the book wouldn't be the No. 1 best-seller in the country if it hadn't already reached an audience wider than just teenagers.

"It's a family story, it's a story about love and loss and grieving and identity, so there's something for everybody," Forman said.