Brie Larson is best known for her performances in movies like “Short Term 12,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” “21 Jump Street” and “Trainwreck,” and she also has a singing career and released an album entitled “Finally Out of P.E.” But if you’re not familiar with whom she is, that’s alright because you won’t be able to forget her after watching her emotionally exhausting performance in Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room.” She plays Joy (a.k.a. Ma), a young woman who was kidnapped several years ago by a man who tricked her into helping him find his lost dog. Joy has since been imprisoned in that man’s garden shed located in his backyard, and she occupies it with her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay). But as time flies by, Joy becomes increasingly determined to escape the prison she and her son have been forced to grow up in, but the outside world provides them with even more challenges than they could ever have expected to endure.
Larson was at the “Room” press day held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California where she was lauded by many reporters for her brave acting. I read how, when she accepted the role of Joy, she decided to lead a more reclusive life and reduce her social interaction with others in order to better understand her character’s mindset. I asked her what that preparation specifically entailed, and her answer proved to be endlessly fascinating.
Brie Larson: “I really love the myth about my reclusive life (laughs). The words that have been used today have been so interesting. How it started was in trying to understand those two years of basic silence of being alone in this place, and I meditate so I was little familiar with trying to get to mental silence and how hard that is. And then I had some friends who had been on silent retreats and I was fascinated by the reactions because some of them could go 10 days and they do it every year and it’s just this time that they absolutely love. You’re not allowed to speak and you’re not allowed to look at anybody because that’s also seen as a form of communication. There’s no connection to the outside world. But I had other friends who couldn’t last 24 hours. They just panicked and left and so there was this sense of just sitting with yourself and imagining Ma at 17, 18 and 19 years old sitting with herself in the way most teenagers don’t. That’s a period of time where it’s all fleeting. It’s all just getting away from everything and wanting to move out and pushing away a parent. In some ways I felt that period of time to be this bizarrely mature experience and set in a horrible setting, but in a way that she has to come to terms with who she is now and this new individual that she’s become that is completely separate from her friends, from her home and from her parents, and it’s the time right before she has a child which becomes her next identity as being a mother. So for myself, it was just seeing what that mental chatter felt like and if it was something to feel that painful moments of it, to feel eureka moments. They were moments that I remembered from my childhood that I had forgotten that were so beautiful and other moments that I completely had forgotten that were more painful. And so having that time to just very simply reflect I felt became a huge part of getting to know her better. But it wasn’t like painful. I found it kind of fun to be honest. I didn’t mind it.”
Larson later won, and deservedly so, the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance, and it has since opened up a number of opportunities I can’t wait to see her take on. “Room” is now available to own and rent on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital.