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Brie Larson: Making 'Kong' made me a stronger person

Turns out running around from CGI monsters can do a body good.
Brie Larson

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson gets to shoot a flare (and run away from big monVince Valitutti

What a difference a year makes. Last awards season Brie Larson was going from up-and-comer (and former sort-of-teen pop star) to esteemed thespian. Then she won an Oscar for “Room.” She’d done mainstream films before (“21 Jump Street,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”), but nothing of the size of “Kong: Skull Island,” in which she plays a war photographer who joins an expedition to a remote South Pacific lousy with giant monsters (and not just the iconic King of the Apes). Larson, 27, spent parts of the shoot jumping back and forth to awards shows, dolling up and accepting trophies one week, getting dirty and running around the next.

How has your life changed since winning an Oscar?
In some ways it changes and in others not at all. As for my career, it definitely changed it radically. But my personal life is exactly the same.

I guess you get more offers for different projects. How do you decide which ones to select?
I'm always looking for movies that are interesting to watch in visual terms but that also have something deeper behind — that ask questions about what it means to be a human being on this planet as well as show different points of view, new ways of seeing the world through the eyes of different types of people.

You’ve mostly done indies. What did you make walking on a giant set?
Since I had never made a movie of this proportion, I'm very grateful to have been able to work with such tangible sets and locations instead of just being surrounded by a green screen all the time. Imagining Kong is one thing, but trying to imagine the whole environment feels like a much bigger challenge. For example, the bone field was really amazing.

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Did you have to have special training for action scenes?
I trained about two months before filming started and I'm glad I did it, because the stamina it takes to finish a film like this goes beyond my comprehension. On this film we never stopped moving. I think there is only one scene where we stand. All the rest are moving. All day you are constantly coming and going. That puts a toll on your body. You have to build a certain strength before you start filming so you can keep up.

Did you feel any changes in your body after that training, like discovering a muscle that you did not know you had?
Yes! [Laughs] I definitely got a lot stronger, and that changes your perspective, I think. It's always nice to feel like your body is toned. But as a woman, feeling really strong, that feeling that you can take care of things for yourself and that you can fix them if something happens — that was a new feeling for me.

Was that a preparation for the next adventure that’s coming your way with Marvel?
Well, I learned a lot from making this movie and I am grateful to have done it before jumping to do “Captain Marvel,” because it just requires more stamina and that’s something I do not think I could have learned before. So, now I know these things and I'm ready for the next one.

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