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Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers (born October 1, 1989), known professionally as Brie Larson, is an American actress, filmmaker, and musician. She is the recipient of such accolades as an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Brie Larson
Brie Larson in 2017.jpeg
Larson at the Japan premiere of Kong: Skull Island in 2017
Born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers
(1989-10-01) October 1, 1989 (age 28)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Education American Conservatory Theater
Occupation
  • Actress
  • musician
  • filmmaker
Years active 1998–present
Partner(s) Alex Greenwald
(2013–present; engaged)
Awards Full list

Born in Sacramento, California, Larson was home-schooled before attending a training program at the American Conservatory Theater at the age of 6, becoming the youngest student accepted there. After relocating to Los Angeles, she began her acting career at the age of 8 with sketches on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She appeared as a regular on the 2001 sitcom Raising Dad, and subsequently played supporting roles in several films, including Hoot (2006), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), 21 Jump Street (2012), The Spectacular Now (2013), and Trainwreck (2015). From 2009 to 2011, Larson appeared as a sardonic teenager in the television series United States of Tara.

Larson's breakthrough came with the acclaimed independent drama Short Term 12 (2013). Further success came in 2015, when she starred in Room, an acclaimed drama based on Emma Donoghue's novel of the same name. She won several awards for her portrayal of a kidnapping victim in the film, including the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 2017, she starred as a photojournalist in the adventure film Kong: Skull Island, which became her highest-grossing release, and portrayed Jeannette Walls in The Glass Castle.

As a filmmaker, Larson wrote and directed two short films, The Arm (2012) and Weighting (2013); the former received a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival while the latter was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the SXSW Film Festival. She made her feature film directorial debut with the independent comedy-drama Unicorn Store (2017). As a musician, Larson released the album Finally Out of P.E. in 2005.

Contents

Early life and careerEdit

 
The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where Larson was the youngest student ever admitted

Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers was born on October 1, 1989 in Sacramento, California, the daughter of Heather (née Edwards) and Sylvain Desaulniers.[1] Her parents were homeopathic chiropractors who ran a practice together.[2][3] She has a younger sister, Milaine.[3] As her father was French Canadian, Larson's first language as a child was French.[4] Larson was home-schooled, and at age 6, she expressed interest in becoming an actress. The following year, she auditioned for a training program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and became the youngest student to be accepted there.[2][5]

Larson's parents divorced when she was seven and she said that she experienced "a lot of darkness" due to that.[6] Larson shared a dysfunctional relationship with her father; she said, "As a kid I tried to understand him and understand the situation. But he didn't do himself any favors. I don't think he ever really wanted to be a parent."[6] Soon after the split, Heather relocated to Los Angeles with her two daughters to fulfil Larson's acting ambitions. They had limited financial means and lived in a small apartment near Hollywood studio lots at Burbank.[6] Larson described her experience, "We had a crappy one-room apartment where the bed came out of the wall and we each had three articles of clothing."[2]

Larson's stage name came from her maternal great-grandmother, Elva Josephine Larson, although she stated that she was also inspired by Kirsten Larson, an American Girl doll she received as a child.[7][8][9] Her first job was performing a commercial parody for "Malibu Mudslide Barbie" on a 1996 episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[3][10] Soon after, she was cast in the television series Schimmel, which never aired because its star, Robert Schimmel, was diagnosed with cancer shortly before filming was to begin.[11] Larson later auditioned for a new show for The WB called In Your Dreams, and landed the role of Bob Saget's character's younger daughter, Emily. The show was selected for the 2001–02 fall season, and was renamed Raising Dad. It was then canceled after 22 episodes. Larson was also cast in the pilot for the ABC sitcom Hope & Faith, but she and some other cast members were dropped after the unaired pilot.

In 2003, she starred alongside Beverley Mitchell on the Disney Channel original movie Right on Track. In July 2004, she co-starred with a large cast of teen actors in the film Sleepover.[12] She also had a small role in the movie 13 Going on 30.[13] Larson appeared in the 2006 film Hoot, opposite actors Logan Lerman and Cody Linley. Her voice is also featured in the film Farce of the Penguins as a teenage penguin. She played Angie in the 2007 comedy-drama Remember the Daze and also appeared in the 2008 short film The Babysitter, written and directed by David H. Steinberg. She appeared in an episode of Ghost Whisperer in January 2008.

Acting and filmmaking careerEdit

United States of Tara and film breakthrough (2009–2014)Edit

In 2009, Larson starred alongside Rooney Mara in Tanner Hall, a coming-of-age film about four girls in boarding school. Despite disliking the film, Betsy Sharkey of Los Angeles Times commended Larson for providing "one of the film's funniest bits".[14] Also that year, Larson began playing Kate Gregson, the sardonic teenage daughter of Toni Collette's character, coping with her mother's dissociative identity disorder, in the Showtime comedy-drama series United States of Tara. Portia Doubleday was initially cast in the role, but was replaced by Larson when the series' creative team chose to go in a different direction with the character.[15] The show premiered in January 2009 and aired for three seasons until 2011.[16] Reviewing the first season for The New York Times, Alessandra Stanley praised Larson for playing "a real teenager so well and naturally", and Tim Goodman of San Francisco Chronicle credited her for finding nuance in her role.[17][18]

At the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2010, Larson appeared in a stage production of Thornton Wilder's play Our Town. Directed by Nicholas Martin, it featured her in the role of Emily Webb, a precocious young girl. Reviewing the play for The Boston Globe, Louise Kennedy thought that the production "plays up laughs at expense of darker themes"; he considered Larson to be "often funny" in it but bemoaned the lack of tragic arc to her character.[19] On film, she featured in Noah Baumbach's comedy-drama Greenberg and Edgar Wright's comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.[20][21] She has described the latter film, in which she played a rock star named Envy, as "a big life-changer for me".[2] Larson next had a supporting role in the Woody Harrelson-starring drama Rampart (2011), an emotionally troubled part, which she found difficult to detach herself from.[22]

 
Larson at the premiere of Short Term 12 at the 2013 South by Southwest

In 2012, Larson made her writing and directorial debut with the short film The Arm, which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.[2] She then played Molly, a high school student, in a film adaptation of the 1980s police procedural television series 21 Jump Street, co-starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Dana Stevens of Slate labelled Larson "a find of major proportions", adding that "she’s not only beautiful but funny, with a scratchy contralto voice, and unlike the usual female in a buddy movie, she comes across as a real person".[23] With earnings of over $200 million, 21 Jump Street proved to be Larson's most widely viewed film to that point.[24]

Following a guest appearance in an episode of Community, entitled "Herstory of Dance",[25] Larson co-wrote and co-directed another short film, Weighting (2013), alongside Dustin Bowser, which was screened at the SXSW Film Festival and received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize.[22][26] Larson's breakthrough role came that year when she starred in Destin Daniel Cretton's critically acclaimed independent drama Short Term 12.[27] Set in a foster-care home for troubled teenagers, the film featured her in the first leading role of her career, as Grace, the emotionally distressed supervisor of the institution. To prepare, Larson shadowed staff at a home for children and watched online interviews of people with similar jobs.[28] The film had a production budget of under $1 million, and she was pleased with its intimate and collaborative work environment.[29][30] Larson's performance received unanimous acclaim; Manohla Dargis of The New York Times found her to be "terrific" and "completely persuasive", and Ian Freer felt that Larson "builds into a whirling dervish of a performance, making Grace strong but scarred, damaged but compassionate."[31][32] Jenny McCartney of The Daily Telegraph predicted that her "sweet, sad and strong [performance] marks her out for a stellar career".[33]

Also in 2013, Larson had supporting roles in two romantic dramas, Don Jon and The Spectacular Now. In the former, written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she played the sister of the titular character (also played by Gordon-Levitt). Peter Travers of Rolling Stone found the film to be "bruisingly funny, bracingly smart" and considered Larson to be "terrific" in it.[34] In The Spectacular Now, starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, she was cast as Cassidy, the ex-girlfriend of Teller's character. Larson was drawn to the project due to the realism she found in its depiction of high school experiences.[29] Writing for New York magazine, David Edelstein called upon viewers to admire "the shading and intelligence she brings to Cassidy".[35] The 2014 crime drama The Gambler, based on the 1974 film of the same name, featured Larson as Amy, a literature student who has an affair with her professor (played by Mark Wahlberg), who is addicted to gambling. The director Rupert Wyatt considered the role of Amy to be underwritten in the script and cast Larson to lend heft to it.[36] Even so, Claudia Puig of USA Today wrote that the "talented Larson is given little to do, other than react".[37]

Room and beyond (2015–present)Edit

Larson had three film releases in 2015. Her first appearance was in Digging for Fire, a largely improvised ensemble comedy-drama featuring Jake Johnson in the lead role. Filming took place without a script and Larson made several on-set decisions regarding her character's choices, including the removal of a planned romantic subplot involving her and Johnson.[38] She then played the sister of Amy Schumer's character in the comedy Trainwreck, which was loosely based on Schumer's own life. Larson based the role on Schumer's sister, who served as an associate producer on the film.[39][40] Tim Grierson of Screen International labelled the film "a deft blend of laughs, romance and poignancy" and found Larson to be "lively, [but] slightly underused" in it.[41] Trainwreck earned over $140 million against a $35 million budget.[42]

 
Larson at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con

Larson next starred in Room, a film adapted from the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. It featured her as Ma, a young woman held captive with her five-year old son in a small room. It was physically and emotionally taxing for her to film; a large portion of the film was shot entirely in a 10ft x 10ft shed created in a studio, and before filming, Larson spent a month in isolation in her apartment.[43] She interacted with trauma specialists on sexual abuse and researched on the lack of nutrition that a person in captivity would suffer from.[43] To achieve the desired look, she stayed away from sunlight, modified her diet and exercised to convert fat into muscle.[44] Room premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, and received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for Larson's performance.[45] Writing for Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan considered her performance to be "astonishing", adding that the "reality and preternatural commitment she brings to Ma is piercingly honest from start to finish, as scaldingly emotional a performance as anyone could wish for".[46] She won several awards for it, including the Academy Award for Best Actress as well as Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards in the same category.[47]

Following the success of Room, Larson played a leading role in Free Fire (2016), an action-comedy about a shootout that takes place in a warehouse. Eric Kohn of IndieWire remarked on how different Larson's role was from that of Room and added that her "businesslike demeanor once again proves her ability to command a scene with a single glare".[48] Commercially, the film failed to recoup its $7 million investment.[49][50] The following year, Larson starred in the second installment of Legendary Studios' MonsterVerse franchise, the adventure film Kong: Skull Island, co-starring Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston. Set in Vietnam during the 1970s, the film featured her as a photojournalist.[51] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post praised the "wit and sprightly visual sophistication" of the film and thought that "Larson manages to hold her own with very little to do".[52] Kong: Skull Island earned over $566 million to emerge as her highest-grossing release.[53]

Later in 2017, Larson portrayed Jeannette Walls in The Glass Castle, an adaptation of Walls' memoir, which reunited her with Destin Daniel Cretton. It tells the story of a successful young woman who was raised by dysfunctional and nonconformist parents (played by Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts).[54] Larson was attracted to the complex depiction of a parent-child relationship and identified with its theme of forgiveness. In preparation, she collaborated closely with Walls and her siblings, and observed their mannerisms.[55] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian disliked the film for being overly sentimental but noted that "it is saved, just a little, by the robustness of Brie Larson’s presence".[56]

Larson made her feature film directorial debut with the comedy-drama Unicorn Store, in which she also starred.[57] She played Kit, a disillusioned art student who becomes fascinated with unicorns. Larson had unsuccessfully auditioned in 2012 to star in the film; Miguel Arteta was attached to direct and Rebel Wilson was subsequently cast in the lead role. However, after the production was stalled, Larson was offered to direct and star in it.[58] She was drawn towards the fanciful narrative and described it as "an abstract self-portrait of myself", finding a link between her character's journey and her experience of directing the project.[59] Peter Debruge of Variety labelled it a "creative misfire" and found her "directing style [to be] entirely incompatible with whimsy".[60] Her final appearance that year was in the India-set musical romance Basmati Blues, a project she had filmed in 2013, which received criticism on social media for its white savior narrative.[61][62]

Upcoming projectsEdit

In 2019, Larson will star as Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel in superhero films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the character will be introduced in the origin film Captain Marvel and will subsequently feature in the Untitled Avengers film.[63][64] She will then portray the titular character in Victoria Woodhull, a biopic produced by Amazon Studios about the first female presidential candidate in U.S. history, which she will also produce.[65]

Music careerEdit

Larson's interest in being a singer started in early 2003, when she began to promote her songs through her personal website and was already showing interest in releasing an album. The first leaked was "Go Goodbye", a song about "two great people who just aren't great together", in her own words[66] and along with "Invisible Girl", were the tracks that led Larson to sign a record deal some time after with Casablanca Records,[67] a Universal Records imprint. Both songs were produced and written with the help of Michael Binikos and Craig Bartock.[68] In 2003, she leaked another track, "Not a Freak" and this time there was even a music video for it, which was available for purchase online.[69] In late spring of 2004, she removed all the songs on her website due to Casablanca's contract restrictions and was in the process of recording new songs for her first album.[70]

 
Larson at the premiere of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in 2010. She covered Metric's song "Black Sheep" for the film.

In October of that same year, her willingness to release an album was coming closer and "She Said", the first single from her yet-to-be-released debut album at that time was available to listen via her official website[71] gaining an official release in iTunes in December[72] and was sent to radios across the country in the following month.[73] Despite having been the 99th best-selling CD single in the country in 2005, according to SoundScan and peaking at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales, the song failed to reach the Top 40 of the most played songs in the country, receiving low airplay. She also recorded live performances for AOL Sessions on October 11, 2004.[74]

Her only released album, Finally Out of P.E., went on sale in late 2005 and sold 3,500 copies in U.S.[75] Before its release, her record label released a DVD featuring "She Said" music video, the making of it and her AOL Sessions performances. The entire album was focused in teenage audiences and that became clear while she was playing in Teen People's Rock in Shop Tour, went on tour with Jesse McCartney and received a lot of airplay from children-oriented radios like Radio Disney and Radio KOL. The music video for "She Said", directed by Chris Applebaum,[76] showed a story about a bored fast food restaurant worker who was aiming to sing and, that way, "finding herself". She also sang "Hope Has Wings", the song from the credits of the movie Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus. A music video for the song appears as a bonus feature on the movie's DVD.[77]

In 2006, she recorded a song slightly different from her previous works for the soundtrack of the Hoot movie, "Coming Around", co-written with Jacques Brautbar and Rami Perlman,[78] vocalist and guitarist of a Los Angeles-based independent band. On March 1, 2006, Larson performed an acoustic set of new songs at L.A.'s famous Viper Room.[79] The songs played were "Dear Universe", "Powershift", "Stilts and the Titanic", "Superstition", a cover of Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine" and "Falling Into History", a track from her album. From the new songs, the only one to be leaked in a studio recording was "Stilts and the Titanic", produced and co-written by Binikos. The song was made available to listen and download as a demo version in Larson's Official Myspace in the summer 2006. Larson's final appearance as a singer was in 2010, when she performed "Black Sheep", along with the band Metric in the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.[80]

Personal life and off-screen workEdit

Larson has been in a relationship with musician Alex Greenwald since 2013.[81][82] In May 2016, Larson's representative confirmed that she and Greenwald are engaged.[83]

She is an advocate for sexual assault victims.[84] At the 88th Academy Awards, following the performance by Lady Gaga, in which she brought various sexual abuse victims on stage, Larson hugged all the victims as they exited the stage during the commercial. During the following year's ceremony, Larson presented Casey Affleck with the Best Actor Award, but in light of his past sexual harassment allegations, Larson took a step back and stood with both her arms at her side during a standing ovation from the audience for Affleck.[85] Commenting on her actions, Larson told Vanity Fair, “I think that whatever it was that I did on stage kind of spoke for itself."[86]

In August 2017, Larson distanced herself from the non-profit cinematheque Cinefamily after several women accused its co-founder Hadrian Belove and vice president of the board of directors Shadie Elnashai of sexual harassment and assault.[87][88]

DiscographyEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit