Brie Larson On The Key To FreedomIn the critically acclaimed Room, she portrays a captive mother – but off-screen, the Hollywood actress has the key to freedom
We’ve seen Californian actress Brie Larson fall in love with Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street, and in last year’s Room she showed why she has attracted so many award nominations. But, as we discover, it’s curiosity that is the most important string to this 26-year-old’s bow.
THE RED BULLETIN: In Room, you play a young mother who has been kept hostage for seven years. Have there been moments in real life when you haven’t felt totally in control?
BRIE LARSON: When do we ever have control over everything? Very rarely. I learnt that lesson a couple of years ago when we were shooting in India. They don’t have addresses there. You drive round in circles for two hours to find a house that’s just around the corner. You get to the stage where you want to give up, at which point you make up your mind either to laugh or cry. And I discovered that I felt like myself again if I laughed.
You’ve received countless Best Actress awards for your performance in Room. Would you describe the experience of filming the movie as liberating?
All these awards are so unimaginable to me. But they are not the point, because this is not about me. What has really mattered to me are the human encounters I’ve had thanks to my role in Room. Talking to people about issues like art teaches you so much about yourself and about the human experience, and that’s what makes you grow and change fundamentally. That’s what really stays with you in the end.
Do you feel free in your everyday life?
Most of the time I do, but we all came into this world in chains, by which I mean that we’re brought up in a certain way and live in a certain society in a certain part of the world. But, thanks to our curiosity, we can venture ever further and cast off these limitations. I would never have ended up on this journey and had this career if it wasn’t for that curiosity.
Can you give us a specific example of when you cast off those chains?
I’m always reading authors and thinkers who inspire me. There’s also this great website, brainpickings.org, which publishes excerpts from the works of various artists every day. And I love to travel. In India, for example, people move at a different pace altogether. You have to strip away all your usual habits and just go with what’s happening in the here and now. That way, you perceive the beauty of a single moment quite differently. I’d completely missed out on that with my life in the US.
Would you say you enjoy overcoming barriers?
Well, sometimes it can be frightening, too. There are times when I wish I was just at home in my parents’ house and that all I had to do was go to school. Life would be so much easier.
So, deep down, you yearn for the simplicity of childhood?
No, it’s not that. As you get older, sadness and loss hit you much harder than they do when you’re a kid. But then, at the same time, your sense of love and happiness has much greater depth. That’s just the boon and bane of growing up, which is why it’s so hard – but also so exciting – to be a human being. Every single day, we have to make a decision to take an active part in life.
What’s your motivation to take such an active approach to life?
It’s just incredible that you can wake up in the morning and decide to do something with your life. Not many creatures have that option. My dog comes and pokes me in the face in the morning and starts barking because he wants to be fed. And in the afternoon he wants to be walked. But we, as human beings, can wake up whenever we want. We can drive a car. We can travel the world. We’ve got so many opportunities. In one sense that’s an enormous burden, but at the same time it’s incredibly liberating.