TORONTO SUN — As the woman who will be one of the new faces leading Marvel’s next wave of superheroes on the big screen, Brie Larson looks decidedly at ease decked out in her Captain Marvel outfit.
It’s mid-June and she’s nearing the end of shooting what will be the company’s 21st movie, which is coincidentally the first Marvel film to star a woman. The intergalactic heroine, co-created by Stan Lee in the 1960s, is half-human, half-Kree (the alien race that first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy) and the MCU’s strongest player. Captain Marvel’s storyline will also directly impact the film that follows — Avengers: Endgame. So if Larson’s supposed to look anything but cool, calm and collected, she didn’t get the memo.
“If I go into it thinking there are expectations or something I’m supposed to prove, then I’ve missed the whole point of what it is that I’m doing here,” Larson says on a break during one of her last day’s shooting on the film, which opens in March.
What Larson has been doing since she broke into acting in the early 2000s is weaving a wide tapestry of roles. So far in her 29 years, she’s directed a movie (Unicorn Store), won an Oscar (for 2015’s harrowing Room) and gone full action (Free Fire, Kong: Skull Island).
Suiting up as the Marvel hero a.k.a. Carol Danvers is just another chapter in her acting journey.
“It’s just something that happened,” Larson says matter-of-factly. Still, she’s happy to be joining Marvel and its pantheon of heroes.
“I’ve always loved (Marvel) because I love mythology and this is our contemporary mythology. I feel like Marvel is like an international theatre company. It’s like being in the most expensive theatre company in the world,” she says, grinning.
The film’s plot is a secret (and trust us we tried to learn everything we could during our day on set), but the ’90s-set storyline, which is credited in part to Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman, will be inspired by the Kree-Skrull War story arc from Roy Thomas’ run on The Avengers comic book in the early 1970s.
During a day-long visit to the Los Angeles set of Captain Marvel(which opens March 8, 2019), the Sun joined a small group of international journalists to watch a pivotal scene and learn more about Larson’s “noble warrior hero.”
What kind of ride can fans expect from this movie?
I try my best not to talk about expectations or hopes when it comes to my work, because I feel like it starts to pave a road that isn’t necessarily why I’m an artist in the first place. I’m here because I want to catch people off guard and I want to bring more mystery and surprise and initiation into life. So going into this with an idea of what people are suppose to feel or think or understand about it feels counter-intuitive to me.
Was it an easy decision to take on Captain Marvel?
No, it wasn’t an easy decision at all. It took me a really long time and I’m grateful that Marvel was very patient while I took my time to make that choice. Deciding to do a film like this doesn’t just change my life, it also changes the lives of my family, my partner and my friends. So there’s a lot of careful consideration that had to happen. Especially for me because I’m an introvert, so the idea of putting myself in a position where I can be observed more feels totally bizarre. It feels like it goes against my nature. So I had to take the time to weigh the options to see what I could bring to this creatively and what it meant in a larger context.
What made you agree then to take on the part?
It was a really long process of thinking and talking about it and that was hard to do because this stuff is so secretive and I had to do that myself. I couldn’t talk to friends or family about it. For me, it was what the film was going to be and what the story was and who the character was. I did a small indie film called Short Term 12 that ended up going international. I took that film to film festivals and I saw the impact that it made and I saw how it affected people. Once I had an understanding of what this type of work can mean to people, the idea of making it on a larger scale had a real appeal. Movies like (Captain Marvel), they go everywhere, I don’t have to work as hard for the work to get out there, so if it can continue to be in my value system of what I am here on this earth to create, I just felt like everything was lining up for me to do it. It almost felt like (by saying no) I was denying myself a fulfilment of my destiny in a way.
What do you like about Captain Marvel?
She’s the most dynamic character that I’ve ever played so far. There’s never been a spectrum so wide than the one I’ve gotten to play as her. A lot of that comes from who she is, being that there is this divide between Kree and human, the Kree being this very logical side. They don’t have emotion and they are very logical thinkers and they are these supreme beings that don’t make mistakes. Then there’s the human part of her that’s actually the worst parts and the best parts of her. Her humanity is the thing that gets her in trouble and puts her in situations she probably shouldn’t put herself in. But that makes her relatable, I think. We all have two hemispheres in our brains. We all have this conflict of trying to decide which parts of ourselves we’re supposed to bring to the world and bring to our relationships and bring to society. It means there’s always going to be something there for me to dig up and discover with her.
Everyone says Captain Marvel is the strongest hero. Are you?
I am! She’s crazy strong. She can shoot photon blasts from her hands. She can also absorb energy. Is there anything else I’m missing? I feel like there’s a lot that goes with that. Oh yeah, she can fly.
The movie is set in the 1990s. What’s the best part about being able to play in that time period?
I was born in ’89. I love the ’90s. I love the music of the ’90s and — whether this movie took place in the ’90s or not, I was going to be listening to a lot of the riot grrrl movement through this. That period of time and that female rage is so important. That would have been infused in this movie no matter what and it just feels apropos that I can be listening to it in my headphones while also being in a ’90s location with ’90s clothed extras. It just feels good.
How did it feel to interact with the other Avengers in the fourth Avengers movie?
I don’t know if I did that. I’m not sure if I was there or not (laughs).
What was it like when you first saw yourself in costume?
It’s weird because it was a strange process. It was like a year of fittings and it takes a lot of people to make this costume. It’s at least 20 people. Initially, it was a lot of pieces. You’d have a glove fitting and I had so many boot fittings. Then one day I was in the full costume. I didn’t even realize it was happening. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I look like a character at Disneyland.’ (laughs) And then, I got in my car and drove home.
You’ve acted with Sam Jackson now on a few occasions. Did he give you any career advice?
I thought that he would when we were shooting Kong. There was a moment when we were in Vietnam, it was his last day and it was the last time I was going to see him before the Oscars and I was like, ‘This is it. He’s going to give me some wisdom before this crazy thing,’ and we got dinner and the whole time I was thinking, ‘Is he going to say the thing that I’m going to remember forever’ and then nothing happened. The cheque came and I asked him, ‘What’s the deal? Where’s my golden nugget of wisdom?’ And he said, ‘Huh? I don’t need to tell you anything.’ He wouldn’t give me advice, but now, in hindsight, I’m so grateful for all the times no one gave me advice. I’m way more grateful for the people who are just supportive and there when I need them and aren’t trying to insert their belief system onto me.