How Beauty Helps Brie Larson Get Out of Character

Beauty

With about 22 years of experience in the TV and film industry, actor Brie Larson reflects on the importance of a regimented beauty routine and the art of transformation in an as-told-to interview with Allure’s Brennan Kilbane. 

I grew up in the makeup chair, right? My mom recently found, in the garage, a picture of me in the hair and makeup trailer on my very first job. I’m eight years old, or something like that, and it was very glamorous. And then that transitioned into preteen and teen years when I had an extreme fascination with [makeup]. I’d ask tons of questions: “Why do you do it like that? How do you clean your brushes?” It was just this painterly, mystical, transformative tool. 

[The movie] 13 Going on 30, where I had my one line, was probably the first big transformation. It was [set in] the ’80s — [so] period costumes, way more time in hair and makeup. And there was the added romance of being on a [film] lot… I think we were on the Sony lot, me and all these other young actors walking around in our costumes. People would look at us like, “Ooh, I wonder what they’re making.” I was doing the thing that I had seen in movies and wanted to participate in so badly.

Then, as I started getting older, I found myself going in the complete opposite direction; wanting to reject all of it, not wanting to participate in any of the cultural norms, wanting to define myself on my own, without any of those things. I look back on some of those times and you can
see it reflected in my work. I mean, a lot of the jobs that I’ve done have been characters that don’t have makeup on. And that felt incredibly empowering to me. I remember someone asking me once, “How did they do your acne for Room? It looked so real.” And I was like, “Oh no, those were just my zits.” That was part of my growth and expression, saying, “This is who I am and this is what I look like.” 

And then around the time I was training for Captain Marvel, I started to become interested in [beauty] again. I had rejected it for so long that I could come to it with my own approach, outside of what I felt like was being imposed upon me. One of the things I [am] trying to learn how to do in quarantine is a smoky eye, which I did not think was going to be part of my journey, but I love it now. I love the process of relearning this thing that I was interested in in the past and the transformative aspect of it.