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Brie Larson discusses training intensely for ‘Captain Marvel’ role

Brie Larson was waiting. For her.

“I believe just seeing women be strong and tough doesn’t answer what a female hero looks like in 2019,” she said. “Women have their own set of skills that are worth exploring on screen. You don’t need to have her do all the things a male does. Women operate from a different place. We have different edges.”

The 29-year-old Sacramento native, a screen chameleon who also starred in “Trainwreck,” dons the latex this weekend in “Captain Marvel,” in which she plays Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, a role she trained for during a research trip last year to Nellis Air Force Base. Danvers, destined to become one of the universe’s most powerful heroes, is called upon when Earth is stuck in one of those pesky galactic wars between two alien races. The Oscar winner for “Room” might just be the one to revive all those evaporated Avengers while also saving the world.

Review-Journal: What is a great Sunday for you?

Brie Larson: Relaxing and reading. Or I might do a jigsaw puzzle because I find them extremely relaxing. It’s nice to have a day off, but I like to keep my mind active.

What was the appeal of Captain Marvel?

There’s a lot to love about her, which is why I was really excited to do this movie. In particular, the idea of playing a female superhero was amazing. I was interested in female complexity. She’s also a major risk taker, but it doesn’t always turn out for the best. I love those moments where it doesn’t exactly work, but she doesn’t lie down. She gets right back up. That’s everything.

You didn’t want your captain to be perfect.

I was a little worried about playing somebody perfect because I don’t feel like that’s realistic or something aspirational. No one is perfect. I look at myself. You don’t know how many takes that are on the cutting room floor where sometimes I would land physically on my face doing stunts. That’s just how it goes. I wanted to play a whole character — flaws and all.

How did you survive your superhero training?

I trained for many hours every single day for about nine months. I sobbed in the gym many times. My trainer would be like, “Oh, she’s crying again.” But it’s very emotional when you’re stirring up something very vulnerable and raw inside of you. In the gym, I learned that there was nothing for me to prove. I wasn’t proving it to other people at the gym. I certainly wasn’t proving it to my trainer because he was never going to be fully impressed. It’s his job not to be impressed. It was just for myself.

What did you learn about yourself?

I found out that I’m stronger than I realized. Of course, the movie is assisted by special effects because I can’t personally shoot photon blasts out of my being — no matter how much time spent in the gym. … Beyond that I found that I was really strong. I was able to dead-lift 225 pounds. I was able to hip-thrust 400 pounds. I was able to push my trainer’s Jeep up a hill for 60 seconds. Forget gender norms. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of doing — in particular what a female body is capable of — which is a lot.

How did you make this role your own?

Usually, I prep for a really long time to put myself into the feelings or the experiences of the character. That’s how I become her. In fact, it’s usually my mom who points out when I’m turning into somebody else. On this movie, it was about two weeks in when I said, “I feel Carol now.”

Is there pressure starring in a movie with this much anticipation?

First, I couldn’t talk about it for a long time. I joked that my house was probably bugged. These films are big international movies. A lot of times with smaller films, you don’t know how many people will see them. These films have such a huge fan base, which is exciting. I’m also glad we’re presenting a film with so many pockets in it. If you want to just enjoy it, you totally can. You can talk about it with friends and have multicultural, global conversations through the veil of the metaphor of the film. There are some deeper truths here.

Were you a dramatic kid?

Very. I would watch movies on VHS — remember those tapes? One of my favorite was “Gone With the Wind.” I would walk around my house acting out the parts and crying, “Ashley! Ashley!” But if you asked me to do it, I’d run upstairs because I was also shy.

What do you remember about winning the Oscar for “Room”?

The truth is I don’t remember much. People ask where I keep my Oscar, but that’s a secret.

Describe fame.

You feel like a kid getting a ticket into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Word is you have a really playful spirit.

When I did “King Kong,” I rented out a laser tag place for the cast and crew. There was nothing else to do on our night off and I’m not a big club person. Laser tag is just my speed.

But who wants to play laser tag against Captain Marvel?


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