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Brie Larson is on the verge of her second breakthrough with Room. Photo: Brad Torchia
Brie Larson is on the verge of her second breakthrough with Room. Photo: Brad Torchia

Actor Brie Larson is heading for stardom

Brie Larson moved to Los Angeles at the age of 7 with a dream of becoming an actor. Today at 26, she is ready to make a major leap into stardom.

Brie Larson is what one could call a true laid-back California girl. Born in Sacramento and raised mostly in Los Angeles, she has lived in the Golden State all her life, but even though she has been acting professionally since the age of 7, she is not yet accustomed to the Hollywood glam that soon may be just be an integral part of her world.

Ready up for a photo shoot at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, she says she’s always slightly surprised by the image reflected in the mirror when a professional makeup artist has spent hours “perfecting” her looks. She prefers the makeup-free “natural form” as her characters in movies like Short Term 12 and Room.

This is Brie Larsen

Born: October 1, 1989
Birthplace: Sacramento, California
Profession: Actress, director, writer, singer

Larson isn’t famous yet, but she has been a working actress for a while. You may have noticed her in supporting roles as Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or as Channing Tatum’s love interest in 21 Jump Street. Or maybe you saw her in the comedy television series United States of Tara. Maybe you remember the young lady who rudely continued texting throughout family dinners in Don Jon or the giddy teenager in Greenberg or the popular ex-girlfriend in The Spectacular Now – all independent films that Larson has done in recent years.

Larson had her breakthrough with her first leading role in Short Term 12 for which she received unanimous praise and a prize for Best Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards. Her performance as Grace, the supervisor of a group of troubled children, made Hollywood open its heavy doors for her, and last year she played the female lead in The Gambler opposite Mark Wahlberg. Recently, she appeared as the mature sister of Amy Schumer’s character in the comedy Trainwreck.

Now she’s about to take the next step – a leap, in fact – forward. The right people finally know who she is.

“You have to prove yourself – and it’s something that I have always struggled with – without being given the benefit of the doubt”, she explains about being an up-and-coming actress in the tough and competitive world of filmmaking in Los Angeles.

“You have to be running at 110% every time you are at an audition to get noticed. Now, instead of going into a room and having to prove myself, they know that I can do this, and instead they want to know how I am going to explore it.”

With Room creating a lot of Oscar buzz after it premiered at the prominent Telluride Film Festival in early September, Larson is becoming a hot commodity and may just be on the fast track to becoming a proper star.

“I am as ready as a person can be,” she says about the possibility of making a major leap into stardom and fame. “It’s not something that anybody can really give you advice for or explain to you. I will just be having a different relationship with the world than I do now.”

‘It’s a city of dreamers. You have these ­brilliant and inspiring dreamers who are going after impossible dreams in a beautiful way’

In Room, Larson plays the challenging role of Ma, who as a teenager was abducted and held in captivity for seven years by a psychopathic rapist. Within a space of one square meter, she creates a world of fantasy for her 5-year-old son Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay), whose father is her rapist.
“I am interested in how human beings bounce back from tragedies and what that process is like,” she says of playing Ma.

“I was surprised by her patience and her strength to create a life out of the living environment of that small space and the few things that are available to her. She creates a world for Jack with so few tools and no contact with the outside world.”

Born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers in Sacramento in 1989, she changed her surname after becoming frustrated by having to continually correct mispronunciations of her French name. Her Swedish great-grandmother’s name came in handy at this point, and her stage name became the Scandinavian “Larson” by the age of 9.
“My all-American doll was called Kirsten Larson, so my mother suggested I change it to this.”

After her parents, both chiropractors, divorced, her mother took Brie and her sister and moved to Los Angeles. They lived in a small studio apartment in the city of Burbank, near the large studio lots of both Disney and Warner Bros.

Brie took her Swedish great-grandmother’s surname as her stage name. Photo: Brad Torchia

“I didn’t realize then that when father had filed for divorce, my mom packed up what she could in our car and drove to LA with only $3,000 to her name. She came here because I dreamt of becoming an actor, but she didn’t know long we’d be able to be here or how we would make money. We didn’t know a soul in Los Angeles. She was just trying to figure out who she was again after breaking away from a marriage.

“I only had two pairs of pants and a couple of shirts and a couple of toys. The room was small and the bed came out of the wall, but it was the happiest that I had ever felt in my life. I felt like I had the whole world and just so much freedom and so much love, so much laughter and happiness.”

Today, Larson lives in the hills of Los Angeles surrounded by trees. It makes her feel like somehow living in the countryside. Deer often come by her house, and her two dogs, Bowie and Jonathan, fight with squirrels. Her cell phone hardly ever has reception here because she is in the hills. That can be a good thing.

‘I am as ready [for fame] as a person can be. It’s not something that anybody can really give you advice for or explain to you’

“Los Angeles is incredibly diverse. There are just so many people here from so many parts of the world. It’s a city of dreamers. You have these brilliant and inspiring dreamers who are going after impossible dreams in a beautiful way, but then there are a lot of people who come out here with dreams that never come true,” she says.

“I find that remarkable divide of extreme inspiration and desperation and disappointment really inspiring. It’s a fine line.”

Larson points out that from Los Angeles you can travel about two hours in any direction and have mountains, desert, wine country, lush forests, or the Pacific Ocean to explore.
“You should feel comfortable driving a car or hire a driver because you can’t get anywhere by walking,” Larson says as a tip to visitors “And it’s pretty much really hot all year around. So bring a bathing suit.”

Larson, of course, is a California girl.
“It means that I get a lot of vitamin D,” Larson says jokingly. “I don’t feel as well in the cold.”

Good thing she’s a hot commodity right now.

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Text: Tina Jøhnk Christensen