Critics have been crazy about Brie Larson since her dazzling central performance in the moving indie film Short Term 12 in 2013. She has given them nothing short of a brilliant barrage ever since, culminating this year in the genre kaleidoscope of Room, directed by Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did, Frank). Larson’s trajectory toward stardom comes from her ability to grow as an artist while moving through a complete spectrum of emotions — from traumatized to crafty — and ending somewhere near a wised-up balance. Now working on being Fay Wray’s contemporary avatar, in the movie Kong: Skull Island, and headed here for an SBFF tribute shared with the equally amazing Saoirse Ronan, she took time for an email exchange last week, a sneak preview of a bright future.
Two roles this year showcased your range: Kim in Trainwreck and Ma in Room. Did you enjoy the variety? Bouncing between opposite tones and characters is important to me creatively. That way I never get too comfortable in a certain pace or objective.
For obvious reasons, Room needed to be claustrophobic; was that a daily challenge on the set? I’ve found that whatever movie you are making, the set becomes an extension of the process. Working in a confined space like [I did in] Room was a love/hate relationship. It was wonderfully intimate and became a doorway into another reality. But it was also frustrating at times to lack privacy and space. Both only added to the experience of the making of the movie.
Did you have fun working with Jacob Tremblay? My focus every day was to nurture and protect Jacob. His mind and spirit are beyond his age. I’m extremely lucky to have gotten the chance to work so closely with him.
The director, Lenny Abrahamson, has five feature films under his belt, and they’ve all been devastating. What is he like as a director? He is a lover of all living things. He’s a dedicated father and husband. He knows metaphors and communicates extremely well — not just in expressing feeling but in usage of humor. It was so important to have our leader be someone who understands how to use humor to defuse the intensity of certain scenes. I love him dearly and look forward to collaborating again.
You’ve directed two short films. Any hopes to add to that résumé list? Absolutely! I have feature ideas in the works.
Can you give away any secrets about the new King Kong film? If I did that, it wouldn’t be a secret.
Are you looking forward to the onstage tribute at SBIFF, or does this sort of thing seem intimidating? I’m excited to have an evening with my new friend Saoirse. She’s been an inspiration from afar and even more remarkable to me after the time we have spent together.
Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan will be given SBIFF’s Outstanding Performers of the Year Award Monday, February 8, at the Arlington Theatre (1317 State St.). The evening will be moderated by Pete Hammond. See sbiff.org.