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Did Chloe Grace Moretz Really Play The Cello In If I Stay?

Released in 2014, "If I Stay" tells the story of Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) who, following an intense car accident, finds herself in a coma and has an out-of-body experience that makes her see life in a different way. Based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Gayle Forman, the film was directed by Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler and stars Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, and Stacy Keach. "If I Stay" performed well at the box office, earning $78 million (via Box Office Mojo). Despite this, it received mixed a critical response, with many finding it to be a largely melodramatic experience, with AV Club calling the film, "A real turducken of a teen movie, 'If I Stay' stuffs a tale of budding musicianship into a banal romance and then stuffs that combination into a maudlin supernatural melodrama." However, the one aspect of the film that is almost universally enjoyed is the lead performance of Chloe Grace Moretz, with even the Rotten Tomatoes having its consensus mention the actress' talents. 

Moretz brings her usual A-game talent to imbue a believable and grounded sense to Mia that works perfectly at getting you attached to her character. Along with her usual talents, however, audiences were also able to see Moretz break out a seemingly new skill, as the actress is seen performing incredible feats on the cello throughout the film. Her skills with the cello seemed almost too good to be true at times — so were they? 

Moretz's head was added onto an actual cello player

Although Moretz made an attempt at trying out the cello for "If I Stay," she ultimately needed a little help from some movie magic to make her performance believable. In an interview with Collider, the "Kick-Ass" actress explains that despite her training, she and the crew knew it was not going to be enough. "I trained with it every day for two hours a day as much as I could," Moretz says. "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. You have to surrender your entire soul to the instrument as you play it." She goes on to explain how the film used a "Frankenstein" approach, where her head was cut out digitally and placed on a more experienced cello performer whose body was shown playing the instrument. Watching some of these sequences is utterly unbelievable. For a film from 2014, the effect remains practically seamless, thanks to some clever angles and editing. 

Regardless of how Mia was brought to life, Moretz was more than happy to get to be a part of the journey doing so. In an interview with Alexandria McLean, Moretz comments that, "Mia was worth it. You know what I mean? She was worth going into that emotion for and not many characters are worth that."