‘Captain Marvel’ Interview: Brie Larson On Finding That Inner Strength To Become Carol Danvers
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 at 10:00 am
Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel will be their cinematic shining example of female empowerment. Literally. The character, who just glows with photon power, will be making her big debut come early March when her first standalone film is released. In it, Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a noble warrior hero of the Kree’s peacekeeping military force, Starforce. But when a mission goes bad, she finds herself on Earth, where the enemy Skrulls have already infiltrated. Determined to stop them, she learns that she may have had a past life on this planet. On her journey of self-discovery, she comes to find out that she may have had more power in herself than she originally thought.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with our fellow journalists at a press conference in LA, where Larson, along with Lashana Lynch (Maria Rambeau), Jude Law (Yon Rogg), Gemma Chan (Doctor Minerva), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), and Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson) chatted about the film.
Check out what Larson had to say about finding that inner strength to become Captain Marvel and why it is so important to push for more inclusivity below.
No one would ever picture someone like Captain Marvel as a damsel in distress, or any of the other MCU female characters for that matter. In fact, there are a lot of layers to the character aside from being a strong female superhero. “There’s a lot to love about her, which is why I was really excited to do this,” Larson said. “Particularly the idea of playing a superhero or female superhero, and particularly because of my interest in female complexity.”
However, she does admit that she was a bit worried that she would be playing a superhero that would be perfect. “I don’t feel that would be realistic or something aspirational at all,” Larson said. “In particular with my job, you get to see this beautiful finished product where I look great, maybe, in your opinion,” she continued, “but you don’t know all the other takes that are on the cutting room floor where sometimes I physically landed on my face doing stunts. And sometimes I just do a bad take, that’s just how it goes. So getting to play a character where the whole arc and turn of this is watching her be this major risk taker, which means it’s not always going to work out the best. Those are the moments that define her character, where she doesn’t lay down, she gets back up. I mean, that’s everything, that’s for everybody. There’s isn’t a person who can’t relate to that, I don’t think.”
Though we’ve seen Larson do the impossible in her physical transformation for the role – like push a jeep – she does say that there were some days when she needed little extra motivation to help her get back up if she ever fell down. “You think training that many hours for nine months, like every day I’m like ‘I’m amazing!'” said Larson. “Like, I sobbed in the gym, many times. My trainer was like ‘oh, she’s crying again.’ It’s very emotional and kind of stirring up something very vulnerable and raw inside of you, and you are also learning that it’s just for you. There was nothing for me to prove, I wasn’t proving to other people at the gym, I certainly wasn’t proving it to my trainer because he wasn’t going to be fully impressed, it’s his job not to be impressed, it was for myself.”
But it was during those tough training sessions that she discovered something about herself and how it would help her shape the character to become an inspiration to a younger audience. “For me, the main reason for doing it was so that in moments like this when we are talking about Carol’s strength and I am talking about what I learned from her, it’s that I am stronger than I realized,” Larson said. “Of course, this movie is assisted with the effects because I can’t personally shoot photon blasts. There isn’t enough prep in the world for me to do that. Yet. I will figure it out if there is a way. But I can stand here and say that I am really strong. I was able to deadlift 225 pounds. I was able to thrust 400 pounds. I was able to push my trainer’s 500-pound jeep up a hill for 60 seconds. So this concept when it comes to gender norms or what the human body is capable of or particularly what the female body is capable of, it’s capable of a lot.”
Larson was certainly committed to becoming the character in every way possible, and even though she did all of the physical preparation and comic book research, she didn’t find herself becoming Carol Danvers until later on. “Usually, I prep myself for a really long time to put myself in the feeling or the experiences of the character to try to see how I can react and, I guess, become her in a way,” Larson said. “But usually, it’s super delayed for me. It’s usually my mom who points it out. She’s like ‘Oh, I think you are turning into somebody else,’ and I’m like ‘NO, I am not.’ And then, two weeks later, I’m like, ‘Oh shoot, I’m Carol now.’ It’s always a little delayed for me. It’s not like I have this moment. I know some actors who have that moment like ‘She’s arrived.’ I don’t have that, and I think part of it is because I never want to feel like I have it or I know her.”
Of course, there are things that some extra muscle can’t do. Sometimes, it takes a voice. Larson has been a major advocate in having a more diverse crowd in film criticism. Her latest push in that campaign included having more female people of color participate in the Captain Marvel press tour. It had nothing about excluding the white male-dominated field, but just adding a bit more diversity to it.
“I am not going to do anything for a specific reaction. I am just doing what I can do based on my experience in my one body, which is why representation on screen is so important because not one of us can tell the entire story, we can only tell a piece of it,” Larson said. “But with films like this that do end up going international, a lot of the times the other smaller moves you don’t know, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, it really needs to have an extensive conversation with movies like this, and I am so grateful that this film has so many pockets in it.”
“If you want to just enjoy it, you can, but there are a lot of aspects to it that are worth talking to your friends about, talking to your family about. So when you have a multicultural global conversation like that, I think it allows us, through the veil of a metaphor of film to reveal some deeper truths and maybe empathize in a new way.”
Captain Marvel opens in theaters on March 8, 2019. Click here for more, including trailers.