Brie Larson, 25, has come a long way since her big screen debut at age 11 in Jennifer Garner’s “13 Going on 30.” The actress’ credits now include a long list of celebrated indie fare (“Short Term 12,” “The Spectacular Now”) and big budget comedies (“Trainwreck,” “21 Jump Street”). This month, Larson is garnering major award season buzz for her lead role in “Room,” which is based on a novel by Emma Donoghue and stars William H. Macy, Joan Allen and Jacob Tremblay. With no less than five additional projects with actors such as Ben Kingsley, Daniel Radcliffe, Greta Gerwig and Tom Hiddleston still in the pipeline, the actress is quite busy these days. WWD caught up with Larson in Toronto during Entertainment Weekly’s “The Must List” Party, where she was honored as a Breakthrough Actress.
WWD: How are you feeling following such positive reviews for “Room” from both the Telluride Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival?
Brie Larson: I feel…good? I feel like the movie is reminding people of who they are, which is what I think all great art does. To be around and be there to receive people as they’re having this experience has been really special.
WWD: The story is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who is being held captive in a small room with his mother, whom he calls “Ma.” What was it about the role and story that resonated with you personally?
B.L.: It’s a very old story. It’s rooted in mythology. One of my favorite stories in Greek mythology is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Zeus comes in and steals Persephone and Demeter has to go through the seven gates of hell and remove a different piece of herself in order to get back to her daughter. So I imagine that Persephone is, sort of, Ma’s innocence that’s taken away. We as people can really identify with the concept of being in a place that’s in utero. We’re in a safe, small place, but it’s not really enough. We want more from the world, but it takes a lot of courage. It takes a really big step in order to get outside of that.
WWD: You have a lot promotion tours ahead and you work with stylist Cristina Ehrlich. Are you a follower of fashion?
B.L.: I’m really enjoying it. I don’t know a ton about it, but I do think that there is something to the right dress and the right shoes changing the way that you feel. I knew about it more from the perspective of making movies where the right costume gives a different relationship to your physical body and, so I used to manipulate that in order to play different characters, so now I get to play with it on a personal level, which I’ve never done before.
WWD: How would you describe your personal style?
B.L.: I just enjoy having fun with it. The beauty of it is that I don’t really take it all that seriously. It should just be fun, so it does, I guess, go with my mood as to how I’m feeling, but [clothing] totally changes my perception of how I feel about myself depending on what it is that I’m wearing.
WWD: You’ve worn pieces by Jonathan Cohen and Wes Gordon so far this week. Do you have any favorite designers yet?
B.L.: No. I’m still learning.