'Let Me In': Kid Actors Shine in Gruesome Vampire Movie

Do kid actors starring in gruesome films suffer any consequences?

ByABC News
September 28, 2010, 1:49 PM

Oct. 1, 2010— -- "Let Me In," the highly anticipated vampire-themed movie opening today, tells the story of two pre-adolescent misfits. The downside: She's a vampire. As the saying goes, young love is never easy.

Although the film's message -- making peace with one's outsider status is much easier to do with the support of a friend -- is sweet one, "Let Me In" is, in parts, bloody, gruesome and graphically violent.

So when a movie so fearlessly explores the dark side, what are the ramifications for the child actors who are part of that journey?

Chloe Grace Moretz, 13, plays Abby, who describes herself as someone who's been 12 for a very long time. Her vampire genes require regular feeding, and she's not shy about licking blood off the floor and giving herself a bright-red smeared pout that's not from lipstick.

Kodi Smit-McPhee,14, plays Owen, a profoundly lonely, graphically bullied-at-school child of a single mom. He quickly figures out that Abby's blood-soaked beauty -- and hearty appetite -- has considerable and possibly insurmountable challenges.

The subject matter prompts the question: Were any children harmed in the making of this movie?

"Much depends on the child's acting teacher or coach, as well as the director's level of support on the set," said Lynette McNeill, an acting teacher, coach and consultant, and owner of Lynette McNeill Studio in Los Angeles.

In Overture Films' production notes for "Let Me In," Smit-McPhee talks about the advice he received from his father, who's been an actor for 20 years.

"My dad taught me that for simple scenes I can just turn it on and off, but when I'm doing the really intense scenes, I have to stay in that character all day," he said. "I can't muck around. It's a really emotional movie, especially for Owen. There were some days that were really fun, and other days that were a lot harder."

Most recently, Smit-McPhee co-starred, with Viggo Mortensen, in the grimly apocalyptic "The Road."

Moretz is no stranger to playing unsavory characters, having portrayed a mini-assassin in this year's "Kick-Ass."