Brie Larson Talks ‘Captain Marvel’ and Her Goal to Make Art That Lasts

     December 4, 2018

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe will make history in 2019. Our minds can run wild trying to predict the narrative outcome and box office haul of Avengers 4, but no matter how things pan out for the next team-up movie, 2019 will bring us a very exciting Marvel first – the very first female-led MCU installment, Captain Marvel. Over 10 years and 20 films later, we have Brie Larson taking the spotlight as Carol Danvers, also known as Captain Marvel. As described in the film’s official synopsis, the story takes place in the 90s and follows Carol “as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.”

That’s where we leave you with story details for now, but we’ll have loads more information coming your way soon because Collider got the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles set of the film. During the two day visit back in May, I got to join a group of journalists for conversations with directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law and many more. Sadly you’ll have to wait a bit longer for those interviews but we did get the go-ahead to unveil one of them right now, our conversation with Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson. 

Larson shared her thoughts on being the very first leading lady to headline a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and also offered up some details on the relationship between Carol and one of her oldest friends, Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). On top of that, Larson told us about the significant amount of training she did to prepare for the role, something that impressed Jackson most of all. When we sat down with him he was thrilled to show us a video of Larson pushing a Jeep up a hill on his phone and told us, “The girl that I did Kong [Skull Island] and Unicorn Store with is not this person. She’s like five percent body fat now.” He also added, “She’s made a distinct transformation that I don’t think a lot of people would be willing to do. It’s a huge commitment to do stuff like that.”

You can read about all of that and more in the full interview below. Captain Marvel is due in theaters on March 8, 2019. Here’s the film’s latest trailer if you haven’t seen it yet – or if you’re watching it over and over like I’ve been:

Sam [Jackson] showed us some crazy videos of you doing …

BRIE LARSON: Oh my gosh. He showed those to you, too?

[Laughs] It was his favorite thing.

LARSON: I can’t believe it. I feel like I’m close to 100 people that have come up to me and been like, ‘I saw this video that you sent Sam.’ I’m like, it’s so embarrassing. I sent that to him in private! He actually showed the person that was next to him on a plane, too, which I found out later. Like, ‘Oh, I sat next to Sam when you sent that video and he showed it to me.’ I was like, ‘Why?’

I think he feels very proud.

LARSON: I know, I know. He knows that it was – I came from humble beginnings.

Whose idea was it for you to push a Jeep up a hill?

BRIE LARSON: It was a joke. It was a joke with the trainer, with my trainer, Jason Walsh, that I wanted to be able to – we were joking about it that like, well, if I’m gonna go for it – because I spent nine months training with him ahead of time. And I was getting super strong. I was like, ‘Well, she can like move planets. The least I could do is move a car.’ So I thought it was gonna be – I’m trying to remember how long we had trained together for. Maybe five or six months at that point. And I just showed up in the gym one day and he was like, ‘All right. Let’s do it.’ And I pushed the car, yeah. [Laugh] And it wasn’t as hard as I thought, which was kind of crazy. There was someone in the front seat in case for some reason – the car’s in neutral, but it’s going uphill, and I pushed it for a minute.

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Image via Marvel Studios

Someone was in the car while you were pushing it?

LARSON: Someone was in the car in case I like, crapped out, and so it wouldn’t run me over. There was someone waiting there to put their foot on the brake.

[It makes it even harder.]

LARSON: It does? Oh! It’s more weight. I didn’t even think about it like that. [Laughs] Totally didn’t think about that. I was like, ‘It’s safe. Don’t try it at home!’ Like, really don’t. It’s really probably not a safe thing to do, but felt super satisfying. I felt really crazy afterwards because when you do stuff like that – I’d never lifted weights or done things until this movie like that. And so you get these crazy highs, and then you just kind of collapse onto the floor.

Is there a particular sequence or something that required this much training or is it just a personal goal of yours?

LARSON: No. [Laughs] It really all came out of ignorance, to be honest. I didn’t realize that you don’t actually do your own – most people don’t do their own stunts in these movies. I thought you did, and I’ve never been a particularly elegant or athletic person. I’m just an introvert with asthma and felt like I needed to be able to do that. I just thought, ‘I don’t want to be on set and them ask me to do things and I don’t know how to do it.’ So I started training as soon as I could, which basically started right as I wrapped picture, locked picture on the film that I directed. I then went into that, which then turned into nine months of training. Nine months of just training, training, and three months of stunt training with the stunt team where we spent two hours every day, five days a week. Everyone just went along with it and was like, ‘Cool.’ And it wasn’t until we started shooting and I started doing all my own wirework, stunts and flips and stuff that people were like, ‘You know, nobody … now we’ll tell you; nobody actually does this.’ [Laughs] ‘We just didn’t want you to stop! But now that you’ve kind of accomplished this thing, we don’t normally do this.’ I was like, ‘Huh.’ But I love it. It definitely makes things more complicated in certain ways because I can be taking a lot more naps than I am. I could just be like, ‘[stunt doubles] Renae [Moneymaker] and Joanna [Bennett] got it. I’m gonna go eat some cake,’ but instead it’s really become a huge part of how I learned more about her and became her and embodied her was through that, was through discovering my own strength. Like, pretty amazing thing.

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Image via Marvel Studios

Can you tell us a little bit about her personality? Especially in this scene because she was being, you know, a little sassy. Maybe has a little bit of an ego to her. Is that how you look at it?

LARSON: I mean, I think she has an ego, but in a healthy way. She doesn’t have an unrealistic expectation of herself. She just owns that she’s really good and really skilled, which feels good to play. She also has an incredible sense of humor and makes fun of herself, makes fun of other people, has no issue if someone makes fun of her. I will say that this character is probably the most dynamic character that I’ve ever played. There’s the most range – as of now; you’ll see what the movie is – but as of now it’s been the most range I’ve ever played a character. I’ve had to go through every emotion possible with her. And a lot of this movie, although it has great comedy in it, there’s also real depth to it and emotion. So I think that the film will have a lot, which for me it’s like, that’s what I want. I want to see complicated female characters. I want to see myself, which is not a simple person. I surprise myself constantly by what’s happening and what’s coming up, so hopefully that’s what comes out on screen.

How has the part challenged you as an actress? What are the things where you find yourself thinking, ‘Oh, this is really testing my limits?

LARSON: Well, the general answer is just getting through a movie like this is a real challenge of everything, of mind, body, and spirit, because it’s a long one, and because I added in the physical side to it. It’s like doing a triathlon or something. There are some days where I’m doing a fight sequence for three days and then at the end of the third day, after I’ve been punching and kicking, then it’s like, ‘Okay, now we’re gonna do this one piece where you’re crying and it’s emotional,’ and you’re like, ‘Whoa. This all feels crazy.’ And it moves so fast and there’s so much that at a certain point, you just sort of have to trust your instincts …

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Image via Marvel Studios

How has it felt to be the lead in the first female-led Marvel movie?

LARSON: I don’t know. I don’t know how it’s any different. To be honest, I don’t want it to feel different. Kind of over the first female blah, blah, blah. And like, ‘Wow, maybe women can actually do the same things that dudes can do. Like, what a crazy concept!’ You know what I mean? I feel like the more we talk about it, the more we perpetuate the myth that it’s an impossible task. It’s like, no. If it wasn’t like that before it’s because it was wrong. That was just wrong. Now we’re just doing what’s natural.

I think you’re totally right about perpetuating this idea of women just doing stuff when, actually, they’ve been doing it, especially in Hollywood for many years. So what do you want the female audience to come away with? Is there anything in particular that you’re excited for them to see?

LARSON: No. You know, it doesn’t matter what I make; I feel really firmly that art is made to be enjoyed and interpreted, and you get what you need out of it. My favorite books I’ve read multiple times in my life and they mean something totally different to me every time I read them. Art isn’t made to be processed and labeled and organized in the way that we do it now. I even have a hard time with the idea of a genre and that we place value based off of, ‘Well, it’s really good for a this kind of movie.’ It’s like, ‘Huh? What does that even mean? I don’t understand.’ It’ll be what it is, and I think there’s gonna be a lot there for people to digest and feel. And hopefully it’ll be the movie that you want to revisit again and again, and as life goes on it’ll have more to it. I just want to make art that lasts. I want to make art that you grow with. That’s all.

Male: We heard that Kelly Sue DeConnick is consulting on the movie, which is really exciting. Could you share maybe some advice or stories, or just how she’s helped you get into Carol a little better?

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Image via Marvel Studios

LARSON: Gosh. I have to admit that talking with her was so surreal. I feel like I just blacked out. I felt really nervous because it’s this thing that this woman, that she created that I feel very certain she knows way better than I do. [Laughs] I just was so honored to receive her blessing and to see how excited she was. That felt like a relief to me because, you know, she pushed this forward. We wouldn’t be here without her, really, and I’m so grateful for that character that she created. And now we’re just kind of following the breadcrumb trail that she made, you know?

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