Brie Larson has certainly flirted with big budget action movies before – her role in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one example – but Kong: Skull Island is the first time she’s gone “all in,” if you will, as the bona fide star of one of these juggernauts.
After a plethora of memorable supporting roles in films like 21 Jump Street, Larson had her breakout moment in 2013’s Short Term 12 (if you haven’t seen Short Term 12, you should see Short Term 12) then followed that up with a Best Actress Academy Award win for her role in 2015’s Room. In fact, during last year’s awards season, Larson was often shuttling back and forth from filming Kong in the jungle of Vietnam, to red carpets around the world picking up accolades for Room.
In Kong: Skull Island, Larson plays Mason Weaver, a photojournalist who has been filming the atrocities of the Vietnam War who now finds herself on an assignment to document whatever it is her expedition finds on a newly discovered secret island. (Spoiler alert, they find King Kong.)
Ahead, Larson talks about the craziness that was filming Kong: Skull Island and looks forward to her next highly anticipated role as Carol Danvers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel.
I was wondering if I needed another King Kong movie in my life, but this one isn’t the same story we know. It’s not what I expected.
Oh, that totally makes sense. I think that’s great. That’s what we set out to do! So we accomplished it.
That’s the whole interview. Congratulations on doing that.
Thank you so much!
It’s set during the Vietnam War and then I didn’t know where it was going.
No, I think that’s great. In a world where there’s just a lot of movies in the world, it’s hard to come up with new ideas and to surprise people, and I’m glad you were surprised.
Were you surprised when you first read it?
Yeah, I was. I thought that it was such an amazing, bold take on it and I think it grapples with a lot of really big questions that I’m so proud that Legendary and Warner Brothers had the guts to do. I think that it talks about some real serious issues.
It’s a statement on war, too. There’s a lot going on.
Exactly. I know. And for a film that takes place in the ’70s, it’s incredibly timely.
I remember last year you were filming this while going through awards season for Room. What a strange back and forth. Having seen Kong now, it’s an interesting window into what you were experiencing…
I know. But I think that’s what was so healthy about it – and why I never got super freaked out by the awards season stuff. Because I would have these really magical, wild weekends in Los Angeles at an award show – and then I’d be back in Australia or back in Vietnam or back in Hawaii, and covered in dirt, running around, trying to run for my life. It was so awesome, and it kept me so grounded through all of that.
Was it actually fun to film? Sometimes movies look fun but that’s not reality.
No, it is really fun. I mean, it doesn’t mean that it’s not hard. It’s both. It’s both of those things. You are pushing your mind and your body to the limit every day. And we were filming over the course of, I think, five months in three different countries. And so over that time we dealt with 120-degree weather and then freezing cold and hail. And no matter what, it’s the same tank top and pants and boots. And through rain, through mud, through desert, whatever it was you just keep going. And that was pretty fun. I mean, it was wild. We were actually out in the jungle every day. We shot very little on a sound stage, so we were outside pretty much the whole time.
Coming from Short Term 12 and Room, and all of a sudden you’re in a movie like this where you’ve got to just trust the process, right? You’re still being told, “Okay, you can’t see him, but Kong is right there.”
Well, yeah, I mean you’re trusting them to actually put in a scary monster and not like a tiny bunny rabbit that you’re reacting to and make you look like a fool. But any time you watch the finished product of the movie, it’s usually a lot different from the script you read or from the movie that you think you’re shooting. And so, there’s this sense of excitement when you watch it for the first time because it’s just a new experience. And with this, it was really a new experience because there was just a huge part. I mean, the title character of the film, Kong, who I never saw. So it was exciting to see for the first time.