Brie Larson: Meet "Tara's" Teen Daughter
Blonde, 19-year-old actress Brie Larson is most notable for her starring role in the TV series "Raising Dad" but right now on Showtime you might identify with her portrayal of Kate Gregson, a sassy, rebellious teen daughter with a doomed taste in boyfriends who is coping with a mom who has multiple personalities! One of these mom-personas is "T", another teen girl! And you think you have a complicated family life! This is "The United States of Tara".
The series is inspired by Steven Spielberg and created and written by Juno's Diablo Cody so it is full of witty dialogue and edgy situations. Brie loves her character and really seems to "get" teen problems and thought patterns.. hey she's in her last teen year so she's been through all that recently. We caught up with the very likable actress in Universal City last week to yak about the new show, her taste in dates and music and, what's it like to play a teen daughter with a bunch of "alter" moms?
Brie, whom you might also remember from the teen-aimed film Sleepover co-starring Alexa Vega, is wearing a cute punk-esque ensemble; her hair slicked back and in gray top, short plaid skirt with black denim jacket and boots.
TeenTelevision: Were you anything like your character Kate in high school?
Brie: I was a little wild and outspoken but in a different way. I was home schooled my whole life so I was always a very big free spirit. I never had any trouble like sleeping with boys or being promiscuous. It was more like I remember my parents went out to dinner and when they came home, I had painted "I like you" in big black letters all across the living room walls.
TeenTelevision: At least "I like you" was better than writing something bad.
Brie: Well, yeah but I was always causing trouble in my house but it was my inner artist trying to speak out. So, that was the challenge and the beauty of playing this character; being that typical teenager which is generally not the person that I would choose to be at all.
TeenTelevision: Would you have dated a punker? Or a guy with an earring?
Brie: Yeah, my boyfriend has an earring. Why not, man?
TeenTelevision: When Tara is in her teen personality as "T", will you not get along, be rivals or friends or what?
Brie: Well, Kate and T. get along great actually. They get into trouble together all the time and go on their own adventures. I think T is one of the alters that Kate uses to her advantage. The other ones, she does the whole "Poor me. Pity me" and pulls that on the alters in order to get more attention but with T. she just plays along because T's the crazy one. She smokes pot. She wants to go steal things and it's perfect for Kate because she gets to play along and then when her mom finds out she's like 'well, T. made me do it'. It's that hard situation where it's her mom but it's not her mom. So it's a great way for her to manipulate the situation.
TeenTelevision: Does she talk to T. about her worries and problems like you would a good girlfriend?
Brie: No. She doesn't talk to anybody about anything. Everything is completely inside and she doesn't want anybody to know. Kate has this sarcasm and this hard shell but if someone were to just come up and hug her, she probably would break down and cry. She has to keep everybody at arm's distance because she's trying to keep everything together just like everybody else is.
TeenTelevision: What was the audition process like for you on the road to getting this role?
Brie: It was a long process. I auditioned for Diablo initially and Craig the director and the producers and tested for it and actually didn't get it the first time I tested for it but they ended up re-casting the part and, a few months later, it came back around. It's been a long haul but now I feel very, very ready. I know Kate better than anybody at this point.
TeenTelevision: Do you have any input into your wardrobe for playing Kate?
Brie: Yeah. I got to be a huge part of it. Me and Kirsten Mann (costume designer), we knew that this character was going to be great when it comes to fashion and we actually want to start our own clothing line together because we had so much fun putting stuff together.
TeenTelevision: (looking at her outfit). This is cute. Is this your personal stuff or...?
Brie: This is my own personal stuff but it looks very Kate-ish to me. I sense that the show has definitely influenced my wardrobe a lot.
TeenTelevision: Who would Kate be into in music and who are you, Brie, into?
Brie: My character, when it comes to music is into all sorts of things; the Japanese pop scene, electronic pop. Strawberry Marshmallow (Japanese Manga series) is one of her favorite things and also Nintendo. She loves anything Japanese. And my favorite bands are Sonic Youth and The Pixies. I'm into a little bit harder scene than Kate is but I'm into being myself too.
TeenTelevision: Are the "Tara" show runners like creator Diablo Cody receptive if you go to them and say 'what if Kate did so-in-so'?
Brie: Yeah with anybody on the show. There's a lot of times where you talk with the writers and go 'I think this would be a good idea' or 'this would be funny' or 'I wouldn't say that'. They're always trying to figure out what's the lingo and how people are talking.
TeenTelevision: So it's a good artist to artist exchange?
Brie: Yeah. They're our writers and it's their job to write dialogue that's accurate but, at the same time, if I say to them 'this isn't true', they're gonna listen. Who better to ask than a teenager, right?
TeenTelevision: Exactly! What do you hope they'll let Kate do on the show?
Brie: I'd like to see her grow a little bit. I like the fact that she's trying to discover and find herself so I hope she goes a couple of different ways and not necessarily gets in trouble but is definitely exploring different avenues because there's a lot of experimenting that goes on with a teenager and it's not very often you see them portrayed in an accurate way. I liked "What I Like About You" with Amanda Bynes but everything is resolved in one episode whereas, on this show, things are broken and funny and real and honest. I think it would be great to see an accurate, non-dramatic portrayal of teenagers trying to exist in this world that they are just starting to understand.
TeenTelevision: Will Kate's current boyfriend be in the picture every week or is she moving on to someone else?
Brie: (laughs) He is someone who will always be rearing his ugly head. I think she finds somebody else that she does the rebound move on and realizes that true feelings can exist and they are sometimes unwanted. It's a tender age because, I think, at that time you always think you're in love. She thought she was in love with Ben and with Scott she was finding herself. That's why she was getting into the Japanese pop thing because he was. And she's now not with him anymore and is now like 'is that really me or is something else me"? She's meeting other people and I think there will be a lot of different storylines coming up this season.
TeenTelevision: What about doing films? Are you putting that on the back burner?
Brie: No. The beauty of this show is we only film three months out of the year like a movie so it doesn't really stop any of us from doing different projects. Right now I just booked a movie called Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim and it's being directed by Edgar Wright who did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I think it will come out next year but I start rehearsals in February. I play a girl called Envy Adams and she is Michael Cera's ex-girlfriend and they used to be in a band together and their band ended up breaking up and she went on to create her own band and her band takes off and becomes a huge success and his is still stuck playing local venues so her basic purpose is to make his life miserable and she's a constant reminder of everything that he's not and he'll never be. It's cool. It's like the worst ex-girlfriend ever that you just can't get away from.
TeenTelevision: What TV shows did you watch as a kid or do you watch now?
Brie: I just watched "Family Matters" two nights ago and that is the most hilarious show. It is crazy. It's still ridiculously amazing. Other than that I've always been into "Arrested Development", "Twin Peaks" . I like off the wall comedies, "Curb Your Enthusiasm", "Carnivale". I like a lot of shows.
TeenTelevision: Why would teens enjoy watching "The United States of Tara"?
Brie: I think teens should watch the show to see someone who is like them and is trying to find themselves just like they are and, at the same time, to watch the interesting dynamic between her mom and her mom as a teenager and her mom as a biker guy and her mom as a Stepford Wife. You almost get to see what it would be like having a lot of different moms.