Brie Larson’s character Grace in “Short Term 12” certainly fits her name, but it’s far from glamorous. She spends most of the movie in frumpy clothes and flat hair, dealing with bodily fluids, emotional violence and the repetitious difficulties of supervising at-risk youths at a foster care facility. As Grace deals with her own demons, she’s works daily with the demons of the kids who land in her care, arriving from the hands of deadbeat dads, abusive mothers, mental health institutions and other unfortunate homes of circumstance.
But to present Grace’s character in any other fashion than frustrating, redemptive and harshly unsexy would cause the movie to fail, and fail it does not. Larson’s portrayal of her emotional role helped subtly open up topics of psychological care and child services in America, for instance, without bashing away the film’s beautiful character portraits.
“Short Term 12” is just one of the many varied roles the 23-year-old actress has picked up; her stints lately have been in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Don Jon,” her stop on NBC’s “Community,” 2012’s “21 Jump Street” and the forthcoming musical film “Basmati Blues.”
Larson and I spoke by phone last week, on the eve of the release of “Short Term 12,” out in theaters this past Friday. Below is our abridged interview, on shadowing at a foster care facility, to tapping in (and out) emotionally as an actress, letting go with cheesy pasta and women’s roles.
In the movie, were there particular scenes or stories that resonated with you as a person in real life? Did your performance have any impression on it due to any feelings or personal experiences with some of the things that were happening in this movie?