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The Weird Way The Shadow In The Cloud Director Communicated With Chloë Grace Moretz On Set - Exclusive

You don't need to have been on a film or television set to be able to conjure up an image of what the physical relationship between actor and director typically looks like. Actors are on marks, directors are out of frame, conversations happen, cameras roll speed, and then a take is shot.

But not every situation is as easy as that. Actors, especially, deal with different challenges on set all the time. Sir Ian McKellen, for example, got so exhausted of acting in front of green screens and tennis balls while filming "The Hobbit" movies that he burst into tears from the frustration (via NME). McKellen represents an extreme example, but there are weird, unexpected challenges actors and directors have to deal with in the moment all the time.

Case in point: On the set of "Shadow in the Cloud," one of the best action movies of 2021 so far, actor Chloë Grace Moretz spends most of her time acting inside a gun turret, a job that was made more challenging by the fact that Moretz is claustrophobic. How does a director deal with a performer who is stressed out and somewhat isolated by virtue of the filming constraints? In an exclusive interview with Looper, "Shadow in the Cloud" director Roseanne Liang shared the interesting way she communicated with her actors on-set.

Limitations are the mother of invention

"We wanted to make it as real as possible, as real to the script as possible, given that we were in a disused office space in New Zealand on the ground," said director Roseanne Liang. "And we were trying to build this idea of flying all the time. The situation was that there were seven guys in a shipping container out in the parking lot who were getting on famously, and that they'd form a camaraderie that made [Chloë Grace Moretz] feel on the outs inside this middle and glass ball that she was sitting in, that she was actually claustrophobic and had a physiological reaction to, while she was trying to do all the things as her character that she was trying to do."

Having your lead actor in a glass ball hovering above you is not ideal for any director, but that difficulty can also be where opportunity lies. "It's that classic thing of the limitations are the mother of inspiration, in that I actually ended up texting directions to Chloë," said Liang. "This was something that I'd never done before. And I didn't know whether it would work or not, but because it took so long for her to get out of there. It was about three meters off the ground. So if she jumped out, she would have hurt herself."

The picture Liang paints of Moretz on set is pretty wild. "She'd crunch herself into this ball in this crunched up fetal position with her legs by her ears, and then wouldn't get out for as long as her bladder would last," she said. "And I would text her things and we'd communicate that way. I did have a mic where I could speak to only her and I could whisper something to the men in the shipping container out in the parking lot to say something or do something to keep Chloë on her toes on set. And likewise, I could say something to Chloë, if we wanted to get a rise out of the guys in the parking lot. So we learned a lot, but it's very specific to what we were trying to achieve."

The result is the very tense "Shadow in the Cloud," which is streaming on Hulu now.