What a year Brie Larson has had. The young actress has been working at acting since she was six–IMDb lists a remarkable 42 credits for someone who is only 23. In Sacramento, her mother, a frustrated dancer, exposed her over-achiever daughter to ballet, music, and art. The family moved to L.A. when Larson was nine. She also recorded and toured with an album when she was 13; her most recent film is Bollywood musical “Basmati Blues.” So singing and dancing are in her wheelhouse.
Larson has shined in such comedies as Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg,” “21 Jump Street,” and Diablo Cody’s cable series “The United States of Tara” as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feature directing debut “Don Jon” and James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now,” which both debuted at Sundance. But her breakthrough lead role is in writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton’s SXSW jury-prize winner “Short Term 12.” The must-see movie, which is uplifting and moving, opened August 23.
Now that Larson has won the Best Actress Gotham Award and an Independent Spirit nomination, perhaps distributor Cinedigm will step up to a proper award campaign for Larson (one top-notch awards campaigner is lobbying for the gig), who is exceptional as Grace, a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Grace is facing past demons as she confronts an abused teen girl (Kaitlyn Dever) as well as her own pregnancy. Much of her best acting is in silent reaction shots. She also steals her literally silent scenes in “Jon Don.” In that case, she didn’t realize as she was playing the role that she would generate so much laughter. She was playing it straight, she says in our video interview below.
During filming, for the most part Larson and strong co-star John Gallagher, Jr. (“Newsroom”) stuck to Cretton’s screenplay, which was expanded from his short film, although they both credit their young co-stars for keeping them on their toes. (Our interview with Cretton is here.)