Chloe Grace Moretz on Political Significance of 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post'

Chloe Grace Moretz at The Miseducation of Cameron Post Premiere - Getty - H 2018
Paul Zimmerman/Getty

The actress — who stars in the coming-of-age film about a teen who is sent to a gay conversion therapy center — tells The Hollywood Reporter why the story resonates in Trump's America.

When Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Chloe Grace Moretz was in the middle of filming The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a 1993-set coming-of-age movie about a teen who is sent to a gay conversion therapy center to "cure" her sexuality.

Naturally, the actress and activist — who had used her platform to campaign for Clinton and who urged millennials to vote with a speech at the Democratic National Convention — was devastated over Trump and Vice President Mike Pence's stunning win.

"In that moment, I was aware of Pence's stance on conversion therapy and the fact that he's been supportive of it for a really long time," Moretz told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's New York premiere Wednesday at Cinema 123. "It was incredibly harrowing to me."

In 2000, Pence wrote on his congressional campaign website that "resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." Though, at the time, he did not specify what kinds of "sexual behavior" he was referring to, Pence — whose opposition to gay rights has been heavily documented — has long been considered a threat to LGBTQ citizens by community leaders. Additionally, Trump has made several efforts to roll back gay and transgender protections, including his signed ban for transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, since being elected into office.

With that in mind, Moretz told THR that she had no other choice but to soldier on. Not long after the cast and crew of Cameron Post — including director Desiree Akhavan — were brought to tears by watching Clinton's concession speech on set, Moretz had to film a particularly joyous scene, in which her 17-year-old character, Cameron Post, climbs on a kitchen table and sings along to the 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up" with her new friends and fellow students at their therapy camp, God's Promise.

"For me, the highest form of activism in that moment was to get on that table and sing that song and make this movie. It was the highest form of rebellion that I could make against the system," the 21-year-old actress said. "It's one of the big crescendos in the movie. I was able to channel all that energy and that sadness — that depression that I felt in the moment of Trump and Pence winning — into exactly where Cameron was in therapy."

Currently, only 14 states — along with Washington, D.C. — ban conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. In late July, Delaware became the last to restrict the practice, which has been denounced as harmful and ineffective by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. Conversion therapy, which can sometimes involve forms of emotional and physical abuse, has been shown to increase depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide.

Therapy survivor and Born Perfect campaign founder Mathew Shurka — who served as a consultant on Cameron Post to ensure authenticity — told THR that "there are more than 700,000 survivors nationally, and an estimated 77,000 teenagers across the country will be subjected to conversion therapy over the next five years."

Now, Moretz is hoping to bring more awareness to the issue, which is also explored in the upcoming Lucas Hedges-starrer Boy Erased.

"It still seems to be taboo. Conversion therapy isn't something that's talked about a lot and it's just not in the forefront of the conversation," said the actress, who has advocated for the LGBTQ community on behalf of her two gay brothers for years. "I feel honored to shed light on conversion therapy with Cameron Post because it's a silent epidemic in America and change needs to happen."

The Miseducation of Cameron Post — based on Emily M. Danforth's celebrated novel of the same name — received the coveted Grand Jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The film is set to bow Friday.