Brie Larson is already at the top of her game. With a triumvirate of extremely well received films out this year—The Spectacular Now, Don Jon and her stark and brilliant starring role in Short Term 12—this relative ‘newcomer’ is finding herself at the center of some serious Oscar buzz, rather early in the season.
“I told my mother I wanted to be an actor when I was six years old,” Larson says of her start. “I think my parents are still confused by it. I watched a lot of film as a child, but it wasn’t really ‘around’ me. I think it’s one of the mysteries of life!”
After years of small supporting roles and many an independent film, Brie scored a featured role on The United States of Tara, for which she won a fair share of praise and attention. “For me, just booking that show…was a huge thing for me,” she says of the experience. “Toni Collette was my absolute hero so to be accepted into that world with them, I felt like I had kind of graduated in a way.”
Now, she is getting lots more of attention, thanks in no small part to Short Term 12. The film, which follows the staff and residents at a facility for at-risk foster children, won the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, and Larson has been singled out for her raw performance as main staffer Grace. “[Short Term] revolves around Grace’s past coming to the surface, all the while trying to be available and supportive to these kids who are also going through an emotional journey of their own,” Larson says of the film.
In particular, Grace makes a connection with a troubled girl named Jayden, whose background mirrors that of Grace in an unsettling way. With Jayden played by the promising Kaitlyn Dever, the chemistry between these two young actresses is nothing short of magic. “I related a lot to Kaitlyn. We have a lot of similar interests, and she’s so incredibly talented,” Larson says. “We created a unique friendship and I think that’s what you see on screen.”
She goes on to discuss her approach to acting in general, and how she prepared to tackle the complex role of Grace. “The thing I really love so much about acting is the ability to be a chameleon and to see things from another perspective. So the things I was able to bring to Grace were not necessarily from my personal life, but things that I studied and absorbed in order to play her honestly.”
Brie is hesitant to pigeonhole Short Term 12 as a film with any particular message. It covers so much, from abuse, to addiction, to race issues and more. “The exciting part of the film is its universality,” she says. “So many people find it emotionally resonating for so many different reasons.”
As expected, this is not the last time we’ll be hearing from Brie, not by a long shot. With a plum role (sans dialogue!) in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon out later this year, the actress also has two other features currently in the works, plus a short as well as a TV appearance on Community. We hope that is only the start!