Brie Larson has been acting since the age of six. After moving to Los Angeles, the Sacramento native soon landed a series regular role on the television series Raising Dad and segued into films, such as Sleepover and Hoot, all while nurturing a singing career.
Now, she can currently be seen as Kate Gregson, Tara’s (Toni Collette) teenaged daughter on the Showtime series United States of Tara, which returns for Season 2 on March 22nd. She will also be seen in the features Greenberg, due out March 19th, and the highly anticipated Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, from Edgar Wright.
In a recent interview, Brie Larson talked about exploring new aspects of her United States of Tara character, working alongside the accomplished Toni Collette and the musical jam sessions with her, Collette and John Corbett. The now 20-year-old also shared some insight on her role in Scott Pilgrim. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What are the most challenging aspects of Season 2 for “United States of Tara”?
Brie: There’s nothing I’d say that keeps me awake at night, but I think that when you’re working with a group of people that are so beyond talented that, every day, you wake up going, “All right, I gotta fight to stay at the same level as these people,” that’s what makes it fun. Every day we’re trying to one up each other and continue to surprise each other. But, the material is great and it’s all there for me, so it’s not that much that I have to.
What new sides of your character were you excited about getting to play?
Brie: I’m excited about watching her grow up a little bit. I hope, if we get some more seasons, that I’ll be able to continue to do that. I do enjoy it because I never was a teenager like Kate was. I was home-schooled, was always very close with my mom and was very straight-laced and square. I was never the rebellious one, and I never threw hissy fits. I was the type of person that would show a Powerpoint presentation about why I should do something versus crying and screaming over it. So, it was fun to delve into that and be that terror that I never was, but it’s also nice, at the same time, to bring a little bit more of me back into it and surprise people a little bit, with the way this teenager acts.
Do you ever get envious of Toni Collette because she gets to play so many characters?
Brie: It’s a lot to take on, so I actually don’t. I don’t know how she does it so flawlessly and fluidly. I think she just has a lot more years of experience on me. I just feel lucky enough to get to be in the same room as her, and that she thinks I’m good enough to act with her. Those are the things I think about the most.
Have you picked up anything from working with her?
Brie: I think the main thing that I’ve gotten is just confidence. When you audition for something and you book it, you think, “Okay, well I got the job, and now I actually have to show up on set and do it.” So, you show up on set and you don’t know, “Am I going to get swallowed up by these people?” I didn’t, and I’m still here. The best thing for me is feeling like a confident enough actor, and that I can be surrounded by such amazing people.
On the show, the kids deal with their mother’s disorder so calmly, but it is fairly disruptive to their lives. At some point this season, do they just freak out and lose it, or do they continue to be like, “Oh, my mom has 19 different personalities. That’s just my life”?
Brie: At times, I’m sure that there’s frustration that comes with wanting to just have a normal mom. But, I don’t really know if they see it as any different than any other problem you might have with a parent. I think everybody can think about one thing that their parents used to do, all the time, that would embarrass you. This just happens to be a little more colorful, I guess. But, I think that, especially as the kids are growing up, they have so much stuff going on in their own lives, they don’t really know how much they’re looking at their mom as the big problem. The whole point of the season was that every single character was looking at themselves and saying, “I don’t know who I am either,” and trying to discover that. So, there’s a lot more finding themselves versus looking at other people.
Your character has a funny dichotomy because sometimes she seems younger than her age and quite naive, and at other times she seems really grown up. How do you find that balance?
Brie: It’s just a power struggle between two sides of a body. In the first season, she was 15 and 16, and my sister is the same age. So, I look at her and see this longing to be old, but at the same time, there’s still this chip of a child that comes out. Whenever you want something that you’re not going to get, suddenly the whiney 3-year-old comes out in you. The fun part about Kate is the fact that she is constantly putting on this facade of being the most confident, the coolest and the smartest. At the end of the day, I feel exhausted playing her because I feel like I’m exerting all of this energy that isn’t really there. So, hopefully, as this series progresses, she will be that older person that she longs to be, but for right now, it’s just for fun.
Is it difficult to keep a balance between the humor and the serious parts of what is going on?
Brie: The whole idea is just that it’s realistic. When there’s a sad moment, it’s sad. And, sometimes life is really funny. Sometimes I laugh with my parents, and sometimes I yell at them, and both are therapeutic.
Who do you play in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?
Brie: I play Scott Pilgrim’s ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams. They were in a band together, and I wanted to sell out and be the biggest band in Toronto, but he wasn’t too interested, so we broke up and the band broke up and I started my own band, which becomes the hugest band in Toronto. With that, I’ve sold my soul to the musical devil, and I have a new voice and awesome clothes and am everywhere. I basically just haunt his existence.
Are you singing in the film?
Brie: Yeah, I do sing in it. And, we have band T-shirts and posters, and a little performance in it.
Is there any cool crazy action going on around you?
Brie: Oh, yeah, the whole movie. I don’t think there’s a page where there isn’t something with action happening. It’s the most amazing action-packed thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
How does that quick editing change your process?
Brie: It’s definitely a new way of acting because it’s not like you do a full scene in a day. Everything is planned out down to the blink. (Director/writer) Edgar Wright is the first person I’ve ever had tell me that I blink too much. Because my whole character has got this evil gaze through most of it, every blink, every head turn, every whip pan was so strategically placed, which makes it very fun and more like a play or dancing than actually just acting.
What was your first reaction to the comic?
Brie: Well, the script was actually extremely top secret, so even when I auditioned for it, I didn’t really know what it was or what was going on. The only thing that I had to go off of were the books. So, I was lucky enough that the character I created fit right in with exactly what he was doing, but I was doing the whole thing basically with a blindfold.
Then, when I actually got the job, I didn’t even know how much I was even in the movie, if at all. Once I read it, it was just so unlike anything else I had ever read. I think the whole thing made way more sense when we all showed up in Toronto and were in costume. You get to see all of these things that are on the page and that are in the graphic novel completely come to life. All of our clothes and everything are taken directly from it. It’s so completely true, down to Scott Pilgrim’s sweat bands, that have a certain stripe across them. It’s all there. Every single hair is in the right place. I think it’s going to make the fans really, really excited to see it.
Is the music poking fun of certain music?
Brie: I think that it probably is poking fun at pop music and a band that’s just so completely commercialized, but at the same time, you can’t deny that the song is the most infectious song. So, I think that they picked the perfect song, in the perfect way. It’s still a rock song, but at the same time, it really gets stuck in your head.
So, you could have a hit single?
Brie: Yeah, that would be kind of weird. I have heard that they might release the song as a single for the movie. We actually did some interviews as the band for MTV, so I hope that they actually use those. I said, “I don’t want to be interviewed as myself. I want to do this like we’re a real band and start this fake following of this band.”
Do you have any musical ambitions of your own?
Brie: No, not really. I’m in a band, but it’s not like I’m trying to get signed or anything. Right now, the music is just for myself and as a fun hobby. I did it a couple years ago and it turned into something I didn’t really intend it to. When what you do is play characters, every day, all day, I wasn’t really interested in playing a pop star on the weekends. I wanted to be myself, and it slowly turned into not being me at all, so I just didn’t really see the point. If the music actually happens, at some point, it will be because some underground following happened, or some little elves heard it and were leaking it.
Since you are all musically inclined, do you, Toni and John Corbett ever jam?
Brie: We’ve tried to do it a few times, actually. We’ve tried on a Friday night. We’ll go somewhere and jam. Little things have happened, here and there. We wanted to do it for the wrap party, and have a full on jam session. I’m sure it will be in the works. We all can play pretty well, so it’d be pretty awesome, like a Partridge Family band. We could start our own tour for the show.