Brie Larson didn’t so much explode on to the big screen as gently make her way to stardom via quirky, artistic dramas and critically acclaimed roles in TV series. In the last three years she has graduated from her breakout performance in the film Room to being cast as Captain Marvel in the highly anticipated female superhero movie.
Larson’s natural and understated acting has earned her many accolades and awards. She is able to portray a range of diverse characters and this had led to her being cast as war photographer in Kong: Skull Island, her highest grossing film to date. But she is also still able to star in smaller and independent productions, such as the newly released The Glass Castle.
Brie Larson was born as Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers in California and studied acting at the tender age of 6 at the American Conservatory Theater. She decided to change her name to Brie Larson, after the frustration of her name Desaulniers continually being mispronounced. As a child she starred on the Disney Channel and before starting High School she had already acted in a range of family orientated sitcoms and movies.
Larson’s career took a definite turn towards more mature and unique projects when she started appearing in small films like Remember the Daze, Tanner Hall, a coming-of-age drama which also starred Rooney Mara and the darkly comic Just Peck She returned to the small screen to act in the United States of Tara, a comedy series for Showtime about a woman raising a family while suffering from a Dissociative Identity Disorder. Larson starred as the main character’s rebellious daughter.
But it was her portrayal of a supervisor of a group foster home in Short Term 12 that caught the eye of the critics. She is a quiet revelation in the film. Her acting is both natural and soulful. She creates a believable and sympathetic character who is so desperate to help the kids in her care, that she neglects her emotional problems arising from her own childhood abuse. After Short Term 12, Larson began to be see as a respected young indie actress.
It is this same gentle acting and deep emotions that Brie Larson also brought to her role as Ma in the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel Room. Room is about a woman held captive with her five year old son for seven years in one single room. To prepare for the role, Larson spent a month alone in her own home, avoiding sunlight and human company, she spent extensive time with her co-star seven-year-old Jacob Tremblay and they played and ate in the room that they were filmed in.
The result is an intimate portrayal of the love a mother feels for her son and the muted and stunted existence of being trapped and confined for so many years against one’s will. The film released to generally good reviews, but it was Larson’s performance that truly received widespread critical acclaim. She went on to win an Academy Award for the role and is one of only fourteen actresses to have won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics’ Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same performance, all of which she won for her portrayal as Ma.
In 2016, rumours were flying around the internet that Brie Larson was being considered for the role of the Marvel superhero Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel. In an era when feminist female superhero films are becoming increasingly popular and successful, this was a fantastic opportunity for Larson even if it seemed like an unusual detour from her traditional choice of roles. Marvel later announced her casting at a panel at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International to a delighted and cheering crowd.
Perhaps it was the anticipation of starring in a huge cult blockbuster that led Brie to audition for Kong: Skull Island. She the won the part of a female war photographer who joins a band of soldiers and scientists searching for the giant ape. Starring with Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman, it has been Larson’s most high profile and large budget Hollywood film so far. Despite the attractive eye candy of the special effects and the beautiful cinematography of the landscape, the characters in the film are mere outlines of people and not full fledged roles. Larson does her best with the limited script she has, but it is a remarkably different performance than the one seen in Room.
Perhaps it was the experience of a less developed role in a much bigger production that led Larson back to working with Short Term 12 director, Destin Daniel Cretton in his new film, The Glass Castle. The film, released in the UK on 6 October, is an adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ memoir of her unconventional childhood. The Glass Castle has received mixed reviews from critics in the US, but Larson’s performance has once again been praised for her natural style of acting.
Having made her mark on Hollywood and proven herself to be an accomplished actress, the only question now remains is will Brie Larson move more towards the bigger budget films of greater stardom or continue to do the independent artistic projects that she so excels at?
The Glass Castle is on release from Friday. Are you a fan of Brie Larson? What’s your favourite film of hers? Let us know!