Brie Larson gives insight to what it took to become Captain Marvel, including the toughest part about shooting the film.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – A warning to young hopefuls: There is no emergency hotline for fledgling superheroes.
That’s what Brie Larson learned before stepping into the boots of “Captain Marvel” (in theaters Friday), despite having a guy on the inside of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It was the night before Larson was flying out of Vietnam, where she was shooting “Kong: Skull Island,” to attend the 2016 Oscars, which would bestow a best actress Oscar upon the “Room” star. She was 26, already in talks with Marvel, and her “Kong” co-star Samuel L. Jackson (also known as Nick Fury) asked to have dinner with her.
Here it comes, she thought. the advice she’d been waiting for.
“I figured it was going to be this moment where he was going to instill all this wisdom and give me some sage advice I could ruminate on my three plane flights back to Los Angeles,” recalls Larson, now 29. “And nothing! He didn’t say anything, and finally the check came and I was like, ‘You’re not going to say anything? You’re not going to tell me what I’m supposed to do?’ And he was like, ‘Why would I tell you what to do? You already know what you’re supposed to do. You get it!’ ”
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Well, maybe not all of it. Jackson, who showcases a younger S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in “Captain Marvel” (and reveals the cause of his eye patch), says he eventually flagged Larson about her impending loss of anonymity.
But “after seeing this film, I think I might have underestimated what I was trying to tell her,” he says now. “Just because she represents so much to so many women. … She’s going to be on girls’ walls and a lot of people are going to be wearing that red and blue and gold suit for Halloween.”
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That’s precisely what makes “Captain Marvel” more than just a popcorn flick, for better or worse. It’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first female-led solo superhero movie, after a decade spent trotting out the menfolk. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Doctor Strange, even Ant-Man got a standalone film before Captain Marvel, described as the most powerful of all the Avengers (as such, she’ll play a pivotal role in the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame”).
This weekend, Captain Marvel’s early days as the Earth-bound pilot Carol Danvers will be revealed as she takes on a violent intergalactic Kree-Skrull war.
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It was during an early sparring scene with Jude Law, who plays Larson’s Starforce commander, that directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck saw the actress begin to harness her supersized powers.
“She kept Jude on his toes, oh, my God,” Boden laughs. “I remember the first day that Jude got to set and went to stunt training with her to learn that scene, and him being like, ‘Oh, I better up my game.’”
Much has been said of Larson’s nine months of physical prep: 250-pound deadlifts, pushing a Jeep up a hill, hanging tough in an F-16 as Air Force pilots simulated a dogfight.
“I was fine! I puked the entire time, but I was fine,” she laughs. Working with her now-viral cat star was “weirdly the biggest obstacle of the movie,” she acknowledges. (She’s highly allergic.)
What does Captain Marvel mean to her? Though she feels slightly silly saying it out loud – it’s such superhero talk, honestly – “the thing that I thought was my weakness was my greatest strength,” she says. “My introversion, the thing that made me go, ‘Well, I couldn’t be a superhero,’ is the same thing that I think makes this story important to me. Because I’m saying, ‘I’m flawed, I don’t know how to do this, I’m still figuring it out, I’m learning, I want to grow.’ But I’m committed to myself.”
“Captain Marvel” doesn’t have a sidekick, unless you count Carol’s pet cat Goose.
You can see it in her posture. In past interviews, Larson was prone to curling up on a couch; she would actively take up less room in front of strangers. Today, the newly platinum blonde star sits ramrod straight in her double-belted marine blue pantsuit, her legs firmly planted wide. She leans forward, looking you directly in the eyes. She is ready.
“It’s a combination of what martial arts has done for my brain and what learning how to own my body in this new way has done for me,” says Larson of her newfound confidence. “And also just getting to embody Carol for awhile. Your brain starts to explore new ways of being. Then, when the movie was over, I was like, this new baseline feels better for me.”
But as Larson’s star climbs, her personal life is increasingly off-limits. Previously engaged to musician Alex Greenwald, questions about her romantic life prove prickly.
“I like saying no” to personal topics, she says. “So I don’t have a problem with that.”
How does this captain kick back?
“I usually have some sort of craft hobby,” she says. “I started knitting again. During ‘Captain Marvel’ I was needlepointing.”
A pillow of a cat? “It was not. I was doing abstract needlepoint,” she chuckles. “Which is very on brand (for me).”
Contributing: Brian Truitt
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