Starring opposite Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in Judd Apatow’s new comic killer, Trainwreck, femme formidable-to-be Brie Larson makes the H’wood A-list.
“When I was 6 years old, I said to my mother while she was doing the dishes, ‘Mom, I know what my dharma is; I’m supposed to be an actor!’” Brie Larson recalls, laughing. “I had aspirations early on: I once did a 300-page storyboard for The Lion King that I wanted to bring to the animators at Walt Disney World. So I always had weird, strong ambitions.”
Growing up in Sacramento as the daughter of two chiropractors, Larson was given acting lessons soon after her pronouncement in the kitchen. They paid off for the young prodigy, prompting an eventual relocation to Los Angeles.
“The move to LA was two-fold,” Larson says. “My parents were going through a divorce, and I had this big ambition, so it became the perfect getaway to try our luck. It was me, my mom, and my sister with a car full of stuff and $1,000 to our name.” While the trio initially predicted they’d only last a month in the city, jobs kept appearing, although sometimes only at the 11th hour. “My whole career has been just hitting my last dollar and then getting a job that allows me to work a couple of months longer,” she says.
With a starring role in July’s Judd Apatow–directed Trainwreck, it’s unlikely Larson will be scrounging for work any time soon. While she first made a splash with her understated performances in such critically acclaimed indie films as Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now, Larson, 25, is finally gaining traction in mainstream Hollywood. “Brie is one of those rare people who can play serious drama and get big laughs at the same time in the same scene,” Apatow says of directing the actress in his new comedy, which also stars comedienne Amy Schumer. “I’ve wanted to work with her since I saw her on United States of Tara.” The love is mutual for Larson: “I had wanted to work with him for so many years,” she says. “Anything that I knew about comedy changed and grew from this experience.”
Her next project, Room, will bring her to a decidedly less lighthearted place. Larson will be playing Ma in the film version of Emma Donoghue’s haunting best seller about a woman and her son who are trapped in a single room, imprisoned by a maniacal man. “It required the most work I’ve ever had to put into anything,” Larson says. “There were so many layers to all of it—fascinating and very dark at the same time.”
After tackling both comedy and drama this year, the actress already has her eyes on her next genre: “I would love to do a big sci-fi action movie, one that has a lot of heart and great subtext,” she says. “That’s my dream.”