Brie Larson Became a Complete “Method Actress” for “Room,” Losing Body Fat and Rewiring Her Brain


When the Oscar-winning film Room was in development, almost every actor in the character’s age group continued to play the lead role of “Ma”. The 2016 Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role ultimately went to Brie Larson for the role she never expected to get.

Larson explains that she relied on the performing method for the role, spending months preparing. She went down to 12% body fat, drew on personal memories and studied the consequences of sexual abuse. Larson warned her friends and family that she might be different while playing the role, which she said “rewired her brain.”

Brie Larson became a method actress for her role in “Room”

“Room” co-stars Jacob Tremblay (L) and Brie Larson speak on stage in 2015 | Mike Windle / Getty Images

Room is the story of 5-year-old Jack, a boy who has lived his entire life with his mother in a small room. His mother has been held captive by an unstable sexual deviant, the boy’s biological father, for seven years. They plan their eventual escape, and the story tells of their adaptation to an outside world the boy has never seen before. At the heart of the story is the bond of love between mother and son.

According to Variety, Larson prepared for the role for six months, employing an acting method to help her portray her character, “Ma.” The technique of the game consists in imitating a given character by imitation. To play a character held captive and sexually abused, Larson studied the impact of sexual abuse on survivors. She also read about people who lived in captivity or in isolation.

Larson sat down with nutritionists to find out about the effects of vitamin deficiencies. She even avoided the sun during pre-production so she could match the character’s paleness. With the help of a trainer, she reduced her body fat to just 12% and built her muscles.

Larson says playing the role was a demanding “emotional marathon” that exhausted her. At the end of the main shoot, she explained that the level of emotional intensity had brought her to the point where there wasn’t enough hydration for the tears she had to produce.

Larson wins the Oscar for Best Actress

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Larson won an Oscar for his performance in Room as well as the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards. The film also won Oscar nominations for Best Picture of the Year, Best Director, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

His experience in the film reminded him of his own childhood. Larson brought up childhood memories to help him create the performance.

When she was a little older than Jack’s character in the film, Larson’s mother took her and her sister on a three-week trip to Los Angeles. In truth, they had settled there. They ended up in a small T1 and the memory resonated with the actor who explained that in hindsight, it was Room in some ways.

Like her character in the film, Larson’s mother created a happy world for her daughters. They had little money, but her mother did all she could to prevent them from realizing the lack. Larson would not learn in years that his parents had divorced.

Other famous players in the method use extreme practices

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The method game can take many forms and is used by many famous and award-winning actors today. The Netflix comedy-drama The Kominsky method is actually based on a popular method action system.

Benedict Cumberbatch recently used an acting method for his role in Jane Campion’s The power of the dog. The actor explained how the story, based on a book of the same title, deals with toxic masculinity. He explores the consequences when his true nature is not accepted or tolerated. The actor learned to castrate bulls and play the banjo. He did not shower for six days for the sake of authenticity.

Gucci House star Lady Gaga first used the action method for the film. The actor and singer studied the movements of the panthers to capture this energy in his performance. She worked with a dialect coach to learn an Italian accent. While critics mostly praised her performance, many found the accent more Russian than Italian.

Her Gucci House co-star Jared Leto is known for his method game. At David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016), Leto remained in his character 24/7. He sent his co-stars disturbing gifts like dead rats and pigs and even made the director very uncomfortable.

RELATED: “Breaking Bad”: How The Acting Method Almost Destroyed Aaron Paul: “I Would Dream As Jesse Pinkman”


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