The actor who breaks barriers and more than a few villains’ bones in this month’s much-awaited film has important things to say — just in time for Women’s Month
It’s a big month for women in Hollywood, thanks in part to the release of a first: Captain Marvel, Marvel Studios’ first-ever female-led superhero flick, starring the impossibly talented Brie Larson. The 29-year-old actor, who began acting at age seven, burst onto the A-list stage by bagging an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her leading role in the intense, claustrophobic 2015 drama Room.
Brie is also among the 300 women, many of them Hollywood big shots such as Reese Witherspoon, who organized Time’s Up, a movement aimed at putting an end to harassment in the workplace. “I am continually surprised by what I am capable of,” she says. “I continue to just push myself further beyond my comfort zone and the thresholds that I knew before, to see who I really am. That is what I love about my job. I always wanted to get to the edge of myself and see what really is there and what really is me.”
Here, she tells us what she thinks about this career-boosting role and the movement that’s changing the industry.
On powering up for her role as Captain Marvel
I was an introvert with asthma before this, so I thought I really [needed] to step up my game. I trained for about nine months. It was about six months of just strength training. By the time we got to the end of it, I could dead lift 225 pounds and hip press 400 pounds. I could do 10 pull-ups in a row.
It was crazy. I had no idea that my body could do any of that, especially in that period of time. And then the three months leading up to it, I continued with the strength training an hour and a half a day. Then I would do two hours of fight training.
That’s when I started to learn a whole new aspect of acting that I will take with me forever, which is the physicality of my body. Because I am a woman and because body image is such a huge part of being a woman, I always just wanted my body to be eliminated from the conversation. I just [wished] my body would disappear and it would be something that no one noticed or cared about.
This was the first time when I felt like I was able to learn how to use my body as a tool, [like a] paintbrush, something that depicts emotion without words. It’s even beyond facial expressions and it’s a whole new way. I had to spend hours learning how to do that stance that you see on the poster. It takes a really long time to learn how to own your body in a way.
On her involvement in the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements
What is really incredible to me is that when I was starting the fight training and in the thick of getting strong, it was at the same exact time that Time’s Up was being established. I was basically [going] from training and then into meetings. The two became really symbiotic. I was learning how to own myself, my body, my voice. At the same time, I had this really tangible outlet and I got to stand and commune with women who are just as strong and well spoken. It was just a really powerful time of growth for me.
On being a feminist
I have moments, when I am by myself, quiet and sitting down, that I can feel myself being at a point in history. There are a lot of women who have come before me and have paved the road to where I am now. I am passing the torch on. Eventually, the conversation will continue with the younger generations and it will keep going on and on.
So for me, feminism is about the ongoing conversation, being critical and trying to get to the heart and truth of this as much as possible. It certainly means equality for me in an artistic sense. It’s also describing the female experience in its entirety, complexity and messiness amidst beauty. That’s the work that I want to do for the rest of my life.
On female power
It’s complete and utter self-love and ownership of yourself, whatever it is you are at… Liberation of women [means we can be what we want] outside of any of those constructs.
On Captain Marvel herself
She has a very healthy ego. She is not shrinking herself or making her powers less than what they actually are. She owns it. She talks about the fact that she is really strong and she is allowed to do that because she is really strong (laughs).
Many aspects of the story are really powerful. You have this journey of a woman discovering herself, recalling and following a back trail to see who she was before. After that, you have a sense of ownership when it comes to identifying with the two parts of herself. There’s this part of herself that is really powerful — an articulate, diligent warrior.
And there is this human part of her — a badass before she ever got her superpowers. But there is also the part of her that pops off and maybe says things that she shouldn’t say and makes mistakes. And watching a character come to terms with both halves and learn how to hold herself in that wholeness, that’s a really special thing for human beings to see because it’s really relatable.
If you take it outside of the alien and human parts of it and get into more of how our mind and heart are constantly at war and we are always wondering which is the one we are supposed to listen to and supposed to be led by — usually it’s a little bit of both — that’s the heart of Captain Marvel. That is what it is about.
On the one super power she’d like to have
It would definitely be invisibility. That sounds awesome. I could do so many jobs. I could do the biggest jobs in the world and still go to art museums and just be perfectly fine.
This article first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Smile magazine.