Maybe you know her from The Spectacular Now, 21 Jump Street or Room, some of her biggest roles to date. Brie Larson might become a household name after she makes her Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) debut as Captain Marvel. Larson will be hitting thirty next year, but already has an impressive career behind her. Her career will likely continue to soar, aging like a fine wine. Here are 42 marvelous facts about Brie Larson.
1. No Bad Blood
Brie Larson and Shailene Woodley became close friends off camera while shooting The Spectacular Now, and were actually both up for the lead role in Room. In an interview preceding the film’s release, Woodley said she hoped Larson could “change the world” with her performance, creating a platform to explore the issue of violence against women.
2. Tell ‘Em
Some interviewers wonder if Brie Larson feels extra pressure for Captain Marvel to succeed, being the first female-led MCU movie. Larson is quick to shut that down, arguing other female action stars have proven that a female-led movie can be a box office hit. The only pressure Larson feels is the pressure to honor the character for the fans.
One of Larson’s biggest goals is to “change people’s opinions” with her movies, specifically concerning social and political topics. While some of her earlier roles might not fit the mold, people might be skeptical about Captain Marvel. However, Captain Marvel marks the first standalone female superhero for the MCU. The hero is also supposed to take over as the face of the brand, and so Larson is at the forefront of this enormous shift for the franchise.
4. Seventh Heaven
Larson began acting when she was 7 years old and says that she faced a string of rejections for over a decade. She would normally get to the late stages of the audition process, but not get the gold medal. Larson attributes part of these early failures to her looks, since casting directors couldn’t fit her into a specific mold “…wasn’t pretty enough to be the popular girl, I wasn’t mousy enough to be the mousy girl.”
Check YouTube and you’ll find Larson’s Vevo account. She released an EP titled Finally Out of P.E. in 2005. The title comes from Larson’s relief at getting a record deal, so she could get out of her physical education classes. Her Phys. ed teacher was one of the few who didn’t like her, and since she was used to being the teacher’s pet, she couldn’t stand the class. Larson actually went on tour with Jesse McCartney, but her EP only sold 3,500 copies. On to better things.
Larson described Toni Collette as her “absolute hero.” She remembers auditing for a role in a TV show with Collette, only to be “devastated” after getting rejected for it. The character Larson wanted to play was a girl struggling with her identity, and Larson felt like it was meant to be. However, Larson did end up playing Collette’s daughter in The United States of Tara.
7. Peer Review
Larson’s performance in Captain Marvel has already earned some praise from co-star Jude Law. Law commended Larson for her work ethic, praising the “fun and feisty and smart” character that Larson brought to life: “I think she’s going to be absolutely magnificent.” Words not to be taken lightly, since Law’s no slouch when it comes to acting himself.
A key part of the decision to cast Larson was the “humanity” she brings to Captain Marvel. Kevin Feige has confirmed Captain Marvel will be the strongest Avenger in the MCU (so far), so it was important to balance that with her human flaws.
Larson pinpoints the creation of a character as the most fun in the creative process: The consultations with the writer/director. In the case of the film Don Jon, Larson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt consulted on what Larson’s character would be like day-to-day, in order to help frame the small details. For example, Larson figured her character would be “indifferent to anything,” hence the character pushing her food around her plate during dinner scenes.
10. Step It Up, Writers
Larson says the key role that she turns down instantly is one that is cliché e.g. “the girlfriend,” or “the pretty girl that waits at home for the guy.” Larson wants to explore new things with her films, so if her potential project has too many similarities to other works, she is quick to shut it down.
11. Be Humble, Sit Down
Although Larson wants to inspire change through her films, she is still baffled that people care about her personal opinions on topics. Larson noticed this more after her Oscar win, and still wonders why her opinion became more important: “Who cares what I think?” Larson also dislikes interviews for the same reason, thinking of them as a conversation she dominates too much.
Larson’s directorial debut was a film called Unicorn Store, which premiered at TIFF in 2017. Larson doubles as the film’s star, a young artist who is kicked out of art school and gets a job at a temp agency. The artist then begins to receive magical invitations and learns that she can get a unicorn if she proves herself worthy of it. Sounds interesting. Larson said making the film allowed her to assemble a team of “real-life superheroes” and unite them for a common goal.
13. Skeleton in the Closet
The politically conscious Larson made a bit of a misstep with her involvement in Basmati Blues. The film began shooting in 2012, but was delayed by a monsoon and only released five years later. Basmati Blues follows Linda (Larson), a scientist who has developed a genetically modified strain of rice and is sent to India to sell the products to locals.
The film drew criticism for its portrayal of India e.g. terrible accents performed by American actors, stereotypes about poverty, and its use of the white savior trope. Back in 2012, Larson didn’t have as much status. So maybe, this film was about the green.
14. I Believe I Can Fly
Larson’s preparation for Captain Marvel included nine months of physical training and flight training on Nellis Air Force Base. Larson got to chat with a real-life female superhero, Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. Larson describes the pilots as badass, fascinating, and deeply hilarious.
15. Dream Boss
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) and Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) are the two directors Larson wishes to work with most.
16. The Other Room
Larson tried to draw from her own life for her performance in Room. From the age of 6, Larson grew up with her mom and sister in a studio apartment in LA’s Oakwood Apartments; similar to how her character was trapped in a ten-by-ten space with her son. Larson’s mother moved the family from Sacramento to help Larson pursue her dream of acting. Larson remembers many days of ramen noodles and casting calls.
Larson’s father is French-Canadian. French was Larson’s first language, due to her parents and homeschooling. As Larson got older, English took hold and her French has slipped, although she knows “some of it still.”
18. What Do You Do For Fun?
Do you know what mycology is? Well, Larson is very passionate about it. It is the study of mushrooms and fungi. Larson has studied it independently for years and realizes “that may seem like the strangest (hobby).”
19. Judge of Character
Larson was subjected to an interrogation by her 10-year-old Room co-star, Jacob Tremblay. Before the two worked together, Tremblay had to know Larson’s favorite color, favorite animal, and her opinion on Star Wars. Tremblay got to know, but otherwise, Larson’s keeping her answers under wraps. The two have since bonded over filming and Larson considers Tremblay one of her best friends.
20. Bon Appetit
Although Larson faced a lot of failures early on, she had some success too. Her career began with The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Larson appeared in a sketch when she was 7 years old and says she appeared in about “a dozen or two” sketches for the show. The sketches were mainly fake commercials for products like the “Road Kill Easy-Bake Oven.”
Larson’s key way to calm herself between scenes is to write. That’s a bit vague—specifically, she likes to make fonts. Larson will use graph paper and gel pens to create the alphabet in different styles. She says the practice keeps her mind active so that it’s easier for her to jump back into character.
22. How Time Flies
Larson starred alongside Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30. She can be glimpsed as one of the Six Chicks who bullied a young Garner, alongside another future star, Ashley Benson.
23. The Other Side
After securing her role in Trainwreck, Larson was invited by director Judd Apatow to sit in for the audition process for other roles. Larson found the experience educational, realizing how she likely came across in some of her own auditions. Larson found many of the people up for parts were either “too self-deprecating,” forgot lines, or tried to tell too many jokes. Now I know where I went wrong.
Larson auditioned for the lead role in Juno and describes it as another role that “completely devastated” her when she lost out on it. This loss was probably more devastating since Larson was rejected for the lead role and the role of the best friend.
Larson was invited to join Prada’s table at the Met Gala in May 2014. Larson was never a big fan of the fashion scene, since she viewed it as another venue where women compare themselves to others and put themselves down. Larson worked with designers to create a custom suit that embodied heroic women, such as Joan of Arc. Her suit included a gold and blue tunic, with matching pants.
26. Good Vibrations
The Gambler (2014) wasn’t a big hit financially or critically, but it is actually the film that gave Larson confidence as an actress. Prior to joining the project, Larson viewed each film as possibly being her last. This also made cast parties feel like a “funeral being held for my career.”
27. Blurred Lines
Larson actually can’t remember whether her first kiss was on screen or in real life.
28. Green Thumb
Brie Larson is vegan and also has the habit of cooking for reporters. Some of her fixings include homemade flax crackers and avocado wedges sprinkled with sea salt (yay on the latter).
29. Barbie Girl
Larson’s birth name was Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers. Larson changed it to something easier to pronounce for showbiz. Some sources say “Larson” is a family name from Brie’s great-grandma’s side of the family. However, Larson has said the showbiz last name comes from a doll named Kirsten Larson.
30. Well Read
Like the best of us, Larson sometimes zones out when watching films. They can become a “flood of visuals” that allow her mind to wander off. Larson finds foreign language films to be an exception, since reading the subtitles is necessary to follow along. Larson credits foreign films for helping her pin down the types of stories she likes and the type of actor she wants to be.
31. In the Cut
You might forget Larson was in Don Jon because her character only has a handful of lines, all in one scene. Yet, Larson worked on the set for two weeks to shoot all of her character’s scenes. She enjoyed getting to be “the observer” of the other scenes, adding that the best part of her job is getting to listen.
32. Au Natural
Larson’s parents were both homeopathic chiropractors. Homeopathy is basically a (sometimes controversial) medical school that teaches that the body can heal itself. Homeopaths value natural remedies e.g. foods, plants over anything factory produced. As Larson says, her parents “wouldn’t give [her] Tylenol.”
At just 6 years old, Larson became the youngest person to be accepted into the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She auditioned with the poem Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out by Shel Silverstein.
Larson starred alongside Woody Harrelson in Rampart, and he credits Larson for changing “the nature of the film.” According to Harrelson, the film required a good deal of improvisation, and Larson’s knack for it sculpted many of the scenes. Harrelson also said Larson could one day be a “Cate Blanchett or Kate Winslet. She’s that good.”
35. Cut The Cord
Larson’s parents divorced when she was younger, and she has not spoken to her dad in over 10 years. Larson says that a lot of the anger, fear, and vulnerability stemming from the divorce is a big part of what feeds her performances. She now credits her dad for her success: “I don’t have anger. I have gratitude.”
Larson was well aware of being the only female lead in Kong: Skull Island, and felt like she had to be “Chaka Khan” to compensate. Larson liked the fact that the film allowed her to embrace her tomboy side more. Since some filming took place during the build-up to the Oscars, Larson could recall weekends getting dolled up for Room interviews, before returning to film Skull Island in the mud: “It was this huge dichotomy in my life at that time and it felt great.”
Larson met Alex Greenwald, the frontman of the band Phantom Planet of The OC theme song fame, in 2013, and they got in engaged 3 years later. However, in early 2019, they announced that they had “taken a step back from their engagement for the time being but they remain close.”
38. We Made It
During the pre-awards publicity push for Room, Larson and her co-stars spent a weekend in a hotel for interviews. Larson recalls Kate Winslet, who she loves, running across a room to greet her and share her excitement over Larson’s potential Oscar. Larson described the entire moment as “the moment when you’re not at the kids’ table anymore.”
To prep for Room, Larson stayed at home for one month and abandoned her phone during that time too. Larson credits her daily habit of meditation for helping her get through the self-imposed isolation. A lot of her time was spent reminiscing about the past. Larson also wrote fictional dairies for her character, Ma. The diaries were from three different ages, 10, 14 and 17. Larson says she would get stuck in her character’s mindset for hours at a time.
Brie Larson has already joined the golden club of Academy Award winners, winning in 2016 with her performance in Room. Larson’s character was a victim of sexual abuse and that fact wasn’t lost on her. Larson made sure to hug all the sexual assault survivors who graced the stage during Lady Gaga for Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens To You.”
Larson also refused to clap for Casey Affleck after presenting him with his Best Actor Oscar for Manchester by the Sea. Affleck was sued for the alleged sexual harassment of two women (with suits settled in 2010) and Larson advised that: “…whatever I did onstage kind of spoke for itself.”
Larson nearly turned down the role of Captain Marvel, mainly due to the exposure the role would give her and the people close to her. Larson felt like the role could get in the way of other roles or pursuits, but she eventually committed to it.
Larson’s first lead role came in Short Term 12, where she played the floor supervisor for a group home. The film also earned Larson a Golden Globe, and it remains one of her most critically acclaimed performances. Larson was “terrified” and was still hesitant to talk about the film and the role after getting the part: “…the magician doesn’t explain how he does the tricks….If I lose the mystery I lose the most important part of my job.”
After the film came out, Larson noticed the change in the attention she got from film execs, likening it to going from having a parent that smacks you in the face to one that gives you nothing but hugs—it’s hard to not to look at them with suspicion just because they suddenly became nice.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18