The Transformation Of Brie Larsen From Childhood To 32 Years Old

Brie Larson has been in the show business game for a long time. As she once told IndieWire, "I've just made movies my whole life. Every summer, I would write and direct a film that I would direct my cousins in. It mostly took place in the garage." Acting, she now says, even taught her some important life skills. "I think it helped me with my super shyness as a kid," she explained to Stylist. "It taught me how to hold a conversation and make eye contact." 

Over the course of her career, she's been a child star, a television regular, an indie darling, a blockbuster lead, an awards winner, and even a teen-pop hopeful. She's been a producer, a director, an activist, and an artist, and that's all since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In other words, Brie Larson's decades-long career has been one full of transformation, from childhood to 32 years old; read on to marvel (get it?) at all she's done.

Brie Larson always knew she wanted to act

Brie Larson was born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers in 1989, and according to Radio Times, she told her mother at age six that she wanted to be an actor. "My mom was doing the washing up and I said, 'Mom, I know what my dharma is: I'm supposed to be an actor.' My mom was like, 'Whoa, where did you learn the word dharma?'" Larson remembered. Her parents supported her dream, and she began studying acting at the San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater when she was a kindergartener; as noted by ABC News, she became the school's youngest pupil.

Her parents soon divorced, according to The Guardian, and Larson moved to Los Angeles with her mother. Their lives were difficult for a while, it seems. "We had a crappy one-room apartment where the bed came out of the wall and we each had three articles of clothing," she recalled. "I didn't really have friends. I loved weird movies and I wore bowling shoes and I wanted to think outside of cultural norms even at that age."

Larson was home schooled, even as she began to act professionally. Early roles included single-episode guest stints on shows like "Popular," "Touched By An Angel," and "Then Came You." As she barreled toward finishing high school by age 15, her career was soon to take off.

The future Oscar winner's career soon got on track

After years spent with bit parts on television, Brie Larson got her big break in 2003 when she starred in "Right On Track," a Disney Channel Original Movie about two young sisters who are also drag racing drivers. Larson plays Courtney, the younger of the two, providing the counterpoint to Beverly Mitchell's older sister Erica. She told KidzWorld that her role in "Right On Track" was one of her most enjoyable, partially because of how it affected other young girls. "After I did that [film], I had a girl come up to me and tell me that I had inspired her to do motocross. That was really cool," she said. Years later, Larson looked back on the role on Instagram and shared that it prefigured her career to come. "Let the record show that I have been committed to transformations for my craft since 2003," she wrote alongside a throwback photo of herself and Mitchell.

The following year, Larson made the leap from television films to theatrically-released hits when she had a small role in the now-classic romcom "13 Going on 30." Larson played one of the Six Chicks, the mean-girl group that bullied Jennifer Garner's character. Her future "Avengers: Endgame" co-star Mark Ruffalo also appeared in the romcom, but he had no idea that his MCU buddy was one of the kids he'd worked with years before. "Oh my God, that's amazing," he told Entertainment Tonight. "I didn't know that."

Brie Larson: pop star

Like many young actors who appeared on the Disney Channel in the mid-00s, Brie Larson tried her hand at singing, too. Her music was pop-rock, as was the style of the time; years later on Instagram, she posted the single cover for her song "Life After You" and joked, "Listens to 'Since You've Been Gone' once..." She told KidzWorld that she had many influences on what would ultimately be her debut album, some of which were surprising: "Everything from Maroon 5, Gwen Stefani, The Clash, Kanye West – just a lot of different artists."

Her debut album was called "Finally Out Of P.E.," so named for the thing Larson was most grateful for when she got her recording contract. "My P.E. teacher didn't like me at all, which was hard to deal with cuz I was usually such a teachers' pet," she explained. "So when I found out I got my record deal, I was like, 'Yes, I'm finally out of P.E.'" One of the "perks" that came with her short-lived music career? Introducing her friends to Aaron Carter, which is about the most mid-00s humblebrag we can think of. 

Larson was selected to perform on Teen People's Rock -n- Shop Mall Tour, which took the teen-pop wannabe to malls around the United States to sing her Avril Lavigne-esque jams. Unfortunately, pop stardom was not in the cards; according to Uproxx, her album sold only 4,000 copies. She put her music career on hold.

She was cast on a cult favorite TV show

After trying to find her footing throughout the 2000s as a child star, a Disney Channel star, and a pop star, Brie Larson's next evolution brought her some stability: she became a premium cable star. Larson was cast on Showtime's hit show "The United States of Tara," which was about a woman living with multiple personalities. On the show, she played Kate, the daughter of the titular Tara (Toni Collette). "She is a fifteen year old girl who is seemingly an empty shell," Larson explained in a behind-the-scenes video for the show. "But she's lived in such a crazy life her entire life that she's learned a lot of great mechanisms ... to save herself from ever showing any sort of emotion."

The young co-star told Collider that working with the far more experienced Collette was intimidating, but ultimately gratifying. "I just feel lucky enough to get to be in the same room as her, and that she thinks I'm good enough to act with her," the future Oscar winner explained. "Those are the things I think about the most." She added that the main thing she had picked up from being around Collette was confidence. It was a confidence that would soon begin to serve the actor well.

Brie Larson rocked out in Scott Pilgrim

Edgar Wright's comic book adaptation "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" featured a star-studded cast that included Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Aubrey Plaza, and none other than Brie Larson. The "United States of Tara" star played Envy Adams, one of Scott Pilgrim's ex-girlfriends and the lead singer of a band called The Clash At Demonhead. On the occasion of the film's tenth anniversary, Wright reminisced about Larson's killer tryout on Twitter. "I remember this video vividly," he wrote. "One of the auditions where someone swaggers in and just nails the part completely."

Wearing her bright blonde hair in two pigtails at the top of her head, Larson memorably performed an angsty, catchy song called "Black Sheep." (That attempt at a pop career came in handy, no?) "I think that it probably is poking fun at pop music and a band that's just so completely commercialized, but at the same time, you can't deny that the song is the most infectious song," Larson told Collider. "It's still a rock song, but at the same time, it really gets stuck in your head."

Her version of the song wasn't officially released when the film came out. In 2021, the song managed to go somewhat viral, according to Billboard, landing her on the charts. "Over a decade later and my popstar dreams are lingering!" she wrote on Twitter in celebration.

Short Term 12 made her a leading lady

In 2013, Brie Larson got her first leading role. In "Short Term 12," she played Grace, a woman who works at a group home for troubled youth. The cast was full of then up-and-coming stars who would break out over the following decade, including LaKeith Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever, and Rami Malek, but Larson was undoubtedly the breakout of the film. She was initially nervous about her first leading role, telling Under the Radar Magazine, "I had no idea what that was like. I didn't know if I would crumble under the pressure of it." Thankfully, she noted, her many years of experience on sets meant that she had watched — and learned from — a lot of leading performances. "I also was playing a character who was putting on a strength even though she was unsure inside," she added.

"Short Term 12" meant that, suddenly, a whole lot of people were paying attention to Larsen's career. She told The Guardian that the shift was gratifying, but strange, considering she was worried about her finances merely a year beforehand. "Suddenly there's this weird spotlight on you and it's a vomit of gold coins. It's wonderful, but it doesn't feel real," she explained. The role garnered her some Oscar buzz as well, which she laughed off. "I'm a frickin' child just knocking around, tripping as I get out of bed," the young star said. "So it's strange. It's... generous."

Brie Larson won her first Oscar for Room

In 2015, Brie Larson led the cast of "Room," a drama about a woman who was kidnapped and kept in a shed in her captor's backyard, raising their son. The film was a critical success, garnering an impressive 93% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. She told Deadline that she took the role because she was a fan of the source material. "I read the book in a day, and could not put it down, and just cried at so many points... and felt so much anxiety," she said.

"Room" took her all the way to the Oscars, where she won Best Actress. She told reporters backstage, "I don't necessarily think an Oscar win changes anything for [victims.] I do hope that, though, in the core of it, when... we want to talk about abuse... I hope that this is a story that honestly changes people and allows them to be free." At the same ceremony, Lady Gaga performed "Til It Happens To You," a song from a documentary about survivors of sexual abuse. As The Hollywood Reporter recapped, Larson put her words into practice, standing up to hug each survivor as they left the stage.

The following year, she handed out the award for Lead Actor. Larson didn't applaud winner Casey Affleck, who has been accused of sexual misconduct. "I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself," Larson told Vanity Fair.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She got engaged to her longtime boyfriend

2016 was a big year for Brie Larson. In addition to winning her Best Actress Oscar for her work in "Room," she also got engaged to longtime boyfriend Alex Greenwald, lead singer of Phantom Planet. (Remember "California," the theme song from "The O.C."? Those guys.) As The Knot noted, speculation began to bubble up when eagle-eyed fans spotted that Larson debuted something that certainly looked like an engagement ring while hosting "Saturday Night Live. While confirming their engagement, Us Weekly noted that she first acknowledged their relationship three years earlier, in an acceptance speech for an award for her role in "Short Term 12." Larson thanked him in her Oscars speech, too, adorably telling him in front of the whole world, "I love you the whole thing."

Two years later, they still hadn't gotten married. Us Weekly asked the rising star in 2018 how her fiancé supported her in her career, and she responded, "He's just a really good person."

Unfortunately, the relationship did not ultimately make it down the aisle. In early 2019, People reported, Larson and Greenwald called it quits. A source told the tabloid, "They have taken a step back from their engagement for the time being but they remain close."

Brie Larson on the A-List

In 2017, Brie Larson had her biggest leading role yet as a photojournalist named Mason Weaver in "Kong: Skull Island." Whereas much of her career was spent in smaller roles and indie films, "Kong: Skull Island" let Larson prove herself as a major box-office draw. Larson found the experience of working in an action movie like this difficult but ultimately rewarding, explaining to Collider, "It was really taxing on the body, in a way that I had never experienced before. I've experienced mental drain. I had never gotten to that point where you're really pushing yourself to the limit, and it's amazing what your body can do!"

Two years later, she returned to the big screen as the newest member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers. In her solo film, before joining up with the rest of the Avengers later that year, Larson led the cast of the '90s-set prequel, "Captain Marvel." She was big on the feminist energy of the film, telling Stylist, "I want to claim the idea of power, and of female power. As more women are coming into their power, it's important that we reach out and lift others up."

She also noted that the film represented a major upgrade in her star power. "Most of my fear was with the public nature of the role," she explained. "Knowing that this film would mean my face was on billboards all over the world seemed overwhelming."

Her directorial debut was released on Netflix

In 2019, the "Captain Marvel" star had a lot going on. In addition to Brie Larson's solo MCU film hitting theaters, Netflix also released "Unicorn Store," Larson's directorial debut. Though the movie was released a month after "Captain Marvel" and starred Larson and her "Captain Marvel" co-star Samuel L. Jackson, "Unicorn Store" was actually shot first, wrapping filming in 2017. They had just shot "Kong: Skull Island" together before working with one another again on "Unicorn Store." Larson was particularly proud of the female-identifying team that she put together for the film; about a year before its release, she wrote on Instagram, "It's important to remember that everyone on set is a filmmaker, not just the director. From sound to script supervising to background work – filmmaking is a team sport!"

The film follows Larson's character, an idealistic young woman who thinks she has found a store willing to sell her a unicorn. She told IndieWire that she was drawn to the project because of the character's "uniqueness, and her inability to let go of her uniqueness." She also understood that the film's whimsical tone might not be for everyone. "I hope that for the people that I did make it for, it resonates with them as a way of saying, 'We need these voices that are unique and different,'" she said.

Captain Marvel got a haircut

When Brie Larson's Captain Marvel returned for her second outing, in "Avengers: Endgame," the character had undergone a bit of a transformation since fans of the MCU had last seen her. Unlike her long blonde hair in her original film — which was set in the 1990s — the superhero sported a much shorter 'do that resembled what Entertainment Weekly called a "fauxhawk." The cut, they noted, brought the character's look closer to her appearance in recent Marvel comics, representing the character and her short hair more faithfully on-screen than Captain Marvel's solo movie had done.

The character's costume designer shared on Instagram that he explored numerous hairstyles for Carol Danvers, including several variations involving braids, but they wound up going with the one seen in the film. It's a good thing, too, because Captain Marvel's haircut was widely praised by queer fans of the MCU, who saw it as perhaps a signal that she doesn't fit in to traditional gender roles and expressions of sexuality. "i still can't believe marvel gave us gay joe russo and called it representation," one fan wrote on Twitter, referring to a widely-criticized moment where one of the "Avengers" directors had a small cameo as a gay character. "like captain marvel's haircut was more gay representation than that mess."

A new romance for Brie Larson

After breaking things off with Alex Greenwald, the "Captain Marvel" star didn't end 2019 single. Instead, PopSugar reported that Brie Larson was spotted kissing Elijah Allan-Blitz, himself an actor and director. Unlike her relationship with Greenwald, which was kept relatively private, Larson isn't shy about showing off her man on her Instagram. She frequently posts pictures of the two together, including one of the couple laying in each other's arms near the ocean. "Life is better with you," she captioned the snap. She shares photos of them snuggled up together, kissing in what appears to be a barn, on rollercoasters, and more.

Larson and Allan-Blitz's relationship isn't just a romantic partnership, but also a creative one. They worked together on a mini-series for virtual reality called The Messy Truth VR, which Allan-Blitz directed and Larson produced and co-starred in. The series aimed to put viewers right into difficult situations, bearing witness to traumatic events, which was a difficult line for the filmmakers to tread. "The project is about creating unity, not more division," Larson explained to Deadline. Allan-Blitz added, "We spent most of the preproduction process identifying the stories so that they would be impactful, but not exploitative."

The project won the duo an Emmy, meaning Larson is now halfway to completing an EGOT. "#TheMessyTruth won, and so did empathy," Larson wrote on Instagram (as the Emmys were virtual in 2020). "Thank you to everyone who voted, we are brimming with excitement."

She turned to YouTube

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020 and production in Hollywood shut down, a number of entertainers found ways to pivot their careers and continue providing their fans with content. Brie Larson was one such entertainer; like some of her contemporaries, she turned to YouTube. The first video on her channel, titled "So, I made a decision..." reintroduced the actor to her fans, acknowledging that while some viewers may know her from the blockbusters she's led, she might be a complete unknown to others. "You might know me from 'Captain Marvel,' or maybe you know me from nothing. Maybe you just randomly, from the algorithm, clicked on this," she said. "But regardless, hello; I'm starting a YouTube channel!" She went on to explain that she felt she had gained a lot of knowledge from the platform, and she wanted a place to have important conversations and express herself for her fans.

She told The New York Times that her YouTube channel, which she said had been in the works since before the pandemic, was an important way for her to decompress from the pressures of being a mega-budget film star. She explained, "I needed to know that it was OK for me to do something that was silly or simple and it wouldn't blow everything up."

Over the course of her two years online, Larson has collaborated with other creators, including everyone from Tessa Thompson to the Dolan Twins. She has amassed more than 600K subscribers.

Brie Larson: television producer

In 2022, Brie Larson added a new title to her growing résumé: producer. The "Kong: Skull Island" star created and executive-produced a show called "Growing Up" for Disney+. As the the streamer explains, "'Growing Up' is an innovative hybrid docu-series that explores the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming of age stories." Each episode focuses on one person and tells their story of what it was like to grow up. 

In a chat with Yahoo! Entertainment, Larson got into the inspiration behind the project. "I realized that because I was living with shame about who I was and fears about who I was that that meant I needed to talk about it," she said. The actor and director added that she hoped the show, which premiered as part of the Mouse House's Disney+ Day, would start an important conversation about shame and letting go.

The multi-hyphenate, who also directed an episode of "Growing Up," wrote on Instagram that she was grateful for the positive reaction to the show's premiere. "Started crying the moment I stepped into the venue," she wrote, thanking the cast and crew of her show. "I can't wait for you all to watch, learn, and share your own experiences. I love you and hope you're feeling happy and safe in your body."