Ask Brie Larson how things are going right now and you’ll get a simple answer – quite literally marvellous!
The actress has plenty to celebrate in 2019: Her debut as Captain Marvel, a quick return in the next Avengers: Endgame, which hits theaters on April 26, and her directorial debut in Netflix’s Unicorn Store that made its debut on the streaming service on April 5.
She recently made her first trip to Singapore, too, where she ate her way through the city like a true local!
It may seem as though the Californian native exploded out of nowhere with an Oscar-winning performance in 2015’s Room but there’s a good chance you’ve watched something with Brie in it before she became a household name.
Brie Larson’s Role Call
Brie has an impressive record of movies under her belt and has left a major impression on the film industry with her acting chops:
A young Brie made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in this whacky Jennifer Garner rom-com as part of scrunchie-wearing crew of 80’s mean girls known as the Six Chicks.
Playing Woody Harrelson’s daughter, Brie proved she had the skills to hold the screen against more experienced actors in this limited but powerful role.
Brie starred opposite Jonah Hill in the movie version of the cult classic TV show. As a love interest, she was sweet and unassuming but bigger things were in store for the talented actress.
Despite taking on the gritty role of a caretaker for at-risk youth in a foster care facility, Brie’s acting was so flawlessly executed and natural that the film seemed like more of a documentary.
The one that won her an Academy Award, Room made a star out of Brie. Her portrayal of a mother trapped in a kidnapping situation with her son sticks with you long after the movie ends.
Her first big franchise outing, Brie took on a supporting role in this fun CGI-monster flick alongside Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L Jackson.
Joining the Marvel family, Brie plays Carol Danvers, the cinematic universe’s first female headlining hero and it’s more powerful one.
Making her directorial debut, Brie skillfully demonstrates her skills as an actress and filmmaker in this whimsical tale about embracing adulthood.
With a resume bursting with supporting roles in 21 Jump Street, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck before her career-making win, Brie reveals it was her wallflower-like tendencies that led her to pursue a life in acting.
“I’d be in a completely different place if I hadn’t found acting so early on, because I think I really would have found comfort in my extreme shyness,” she says.
The Price of Fame
At age six, her mother packed her and her sister up and moved to Los Angeles so Brie could realise her dream of becoming an actress, but the journey to stardom came at a price. Behind the scenes her parents’ marriage was unravelling. They divorced when she was seven.
“Everybody just sort of hoped that I didn’t understand what was happening, and I didn’t! I didn’t have the words to understand it, or negotiate, or describe it. It was like being in the middle of a crossfire that I didn’t want to be in,” she confesses.
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Instead of self-destructing at the breakdown of her family’s traditional structure, she channelled those feelings into her work, expressing her anger in difficult roles that called for raw emotion. It worked to her advantage as movie critics and viewers alike continue to praise her for her natural acting ability.
“I’d be in a completely different place if I hadn’t found acting so early on”
“It’s amazing because I’ve always felt really alone and I have had so many trials and tribulations. The only thing I know how to do is make art about that experience and try to share it,” she reveals.
“It makes me feel alive to think the things that I have gone through connects with people all over the globe. It’s amazing how similar our stories are. To also be a part of Captain Marvel, and to hope it can open a lot of doors for more storytelling, is really exciting.”
From Strength to Strength
She adds that being part of the Marvel cinematic universe taught her more about herself than she could have ever imagined.
“Making a movie like this is like doing a triathlon and it requires a lot of sacrifice. I cried a lot of times. It confused me at first but then at the end of filming I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I am stronger than I realised and I thought I was really strong so I must be really, really, really strong!’ says Brie.
“That was just an empowering aspect to realise after going through all the training and getting through a shoot that was long and difficult. I learned so much about myself. I feel I can do anything now.”
She literally can do anything right now as Captain Marvel‘s combined domestic and international box office grosses have topped a billion US dollars! The actress has plenty to be proud of, her movies is only the seventh Marvel film to achieve that milestone and is now the number 10 superhero movie of all time.
Brie isn’t limiting herself to being a thespian either. She’s already transitioning from being in front to behind the camera.
Her directorial debut, Unicorn Store, in which she also stars in, premiered on Netflix recently. Brie plays the quirky Kit, a woman who just doesn’t want to grow up and has a dream of owning a unicorn.
She says, “To be honest I knew directing was going to be hard, I didn’t think it was going to be a breeze going through it. But I was lucky in that a lot of this is about the stamina of the creative process, so it’s not dissimilar to acting. It felt inspiring to assemble a team that was constantly surprising you and making you excited every day. And this movie is about making each other laugh, and that was a really nice change.”
“I learned so much about myself. I feel I can do anything now.”
She adds, “Doing this film triggered something in me that felt very real and I didn’t know what that was until I started going though home movies and I found all this footage of me as a little kid talking about wanting a unicorn! It gave me chills.”
It’s hard to imagine Brie as that shy child now she’s developed into her own woman. Having played a strong, independent powerful superhero who happens to be a woman, she says Captain Marvel is her “own form of activism”, and it allows her to use her fame for good.
The star hopes to create a school to train people in various jobs on set. “Through that, my hope is that we have more women, more people of colour telling their stories, because that’s what we need.”
(Text: Hilary Morgan/Feats / Additional reporting: Natalya Molok / Photos: Terry Tsiolis/Home Agency)
This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of The Singapore Women’s Weekly.
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