At a young age, Brie Larson has already built a remarkable resume of varied performances. She can do broad comedies (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “21 Jump Street”), indie dramas (“The Spectacular Now,” “Short Term 12”) and hold her own alongside some of the biggest names in movies like “The Gambler.” She’s also shown her stuff behind the camera, having written and directed (with Jessie Ennis and Sarah Ramos) the short film “The Arm,” which won a Short Film Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.
Larson can currently be seen on the bigscreen in the Judd Apatow hit “Trainwreck” as Kim, the younger, yet more mature sister to Amy Schumer’s hard-partying journalist Amy. The role is a family affair, as Schumer’s real-life sister, Kim Caramele, serves as an associate producer on the film, in addition to being a writer-producer-performer on her sister’s hit series “Inside Amy Schumer.”
Were you a fan of Amy Schumer’s prior to being cast in “Trainwreck”?
I had heard of her and I’d seen certain sketches friends had sent me. But I don’t have cable or anything, so I’m sort of out of the loop with most television programs. I usually get into things six years later when they’re on Netflix.
How did you land the role of Kim?
Judd called and it was my very last phone call of the year — what an amazing call to end my year on. He said, “I’m working with Amy, can I send you some stuff?” He really educated me on her, he sent me her Howard Stern interview, among other things. So I met up with them, Amy and Kim were there, and they were just the best. So sweet and funny and easy to be around. And they invited me to lunch and I called my agent and said, “I think I might be part of something … I’m going back for lunch tomorrow.” And that kind of went on for about a week. Then Bill Hader showed up. We’d go to lunch and hang out and talk about the script. No one was officially saying anything, but we felt like we were a part of it. We walked to our cars at the end of the day going, “Are we doing this?” Eventually we were cast. Auditioning is so much like dating. I was worried they would realize I’m not funny or something wouldn’t work out. But I got a contract.
How much is the character of Kim based on the real Kim?
I don’t know how biographical it is, but the overall dynamic you see in the film seems fairly close. Kim is the more settled down one, she is married. And it was never asked of me to walk like her or do things exactly like her. It was more just understanding what it was like to be Amy’s sister. How you stay balanced with that person.
Amy said some of the hardest scenes to do in the whole film were the fight scenes between you two because they hit so close to home.
It was really intense, particularly the funeral day. It was a big day for both those sisters, the combination of Amy giving that personal speech and our fight scene, which we did a lot of improv on. We sent Kim away from set so we could really get into it without Kim observing it and just railed into one another. They both told me things separately not to tell the other that were sort of the basis of that fight. There were a couple of things (that) Kim was like, “If you need to use them, these are keys that will annihilate her.” That day in particular felt the most like we were re-creating scenes from their life. It became kind of a therapeutic performance for them. It was an intense, emotional day.
I heard it was also difficult because I heard you were sick?
We also both had the flu that day. We were basically sobbing for hours while both of us had fevers and were sneezing. We were both so sick and gutted.
You’re set to appear later this year in “Room,” which had to have been a difficult role.
There’s just so many elements to it that the book beautifully masks for you, the technicalities. (The boy) Jack is so innocent and beautiful, and his perception of everything is so beautiful. So when it came down to making a film, it’s not quite as forgiving. It required a lot of time of thinking and overthinking and figuring out all the intricacies of what life would realistically be like in there and the effects on a young woman. It became a lot of stuff at once to try and get my head around. I worked on it for about nine months, six months of prep and three months of shooting. It still haunts me that while we are talking, there is at least one woman living that situation.
Your short film “The Arm” won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance; are you looking to do more writing and directing?
Yeah, I am. I’m in the process of finishing a feature-length screenplay. I’m developing two things right now in the middle of this other insanity. It’s been almost two years since I’ve directed and it feels bizarre.
What’s up next?
I’m not quite sure what I’m doing next. I just got home from filming a Ben Wheatley film called “Free Fire.” It was unbelievably fun, and I got home about a week ago. So I cleaned my backyard and I’m going to enjoy a couple of weeks.