Who Is Brie Larson's Mom? The 'Room' Star's Mother Is Her Biggest Inspiration
Brie Larson, at only 26, has a good chance to take home the Academy Award for Best Actress for her stunning performance playing Ma in Room. If you haven't seen the film, it will exceed your expectations and surprise you with how hopeful it is, considering the story is so terrible: Larson plays Ma, a woman who is being held captive with her five-year-old son Jack (played by the amazing Jacob Tremblay). It's a family story of a different color, illustrating the fierce bond of mother and son. And with the actor probably preparing her acceptance speech, Larson's sure to thank her own mother, who she says was her biggest source of strength and inspiration during the filming of the intense Room.
In an interview with Robin Roberts for ABC's "Journey To The Oscars" special, Larson said one of her biggest revelations when she came to Room was how much it resonated with her because of her own tumultuous childhood. She was born in Sacramento to parents Sylvain and Heather Desaulniers, chiropractors who shared a practice. When Larson was six, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother and sister, and shortly after her parents swiftly divorced, which turned her world upside down at a very young age. Larson said her mother's strength was what got her through, and what ultimately helped inspire her greatly and have the emotional fortitude to play Ma.
She went on to say the experience filming Room is still helping her process her painful past. "For me, Room is an opportunity to relive an aspect of my childhood that I hadn't put a ton of thought into," she said. The actor then went on to describe just how closely the movie resonated with her, and how much her mother did:
We lived in just a studio apartment with just a room and a bed that came out of the wall, and my mom couldn't afford even a Happy Meal. We ate Top Ramen. I had no toys, and I had like two shirts, a pair of jeans and that was it. But I had my Mom to myself and I remember it being the coolest period of time. I loved it. I really loved it.
In the film, Larson's Ma does everything she can in her power to create as safe and comforting a world as possible for Jack, just like her mother did for her.
But in a revealing and heavy interview with Variety last fall, Larson says she remembers her mother's struggles as well, learning to reinterpret them as a woman. She spoke of waking up to her mom crying one night, saying,
She was holding her hand over her mouth, trying not to wake us up with these guttural sobs. I thought, "That reminds me of when my toys are taken away." It wasn’t until much later I realized, "Gosh, we never went back to Sacramento. I never saw my dad." Years later, I realized that right before we had left for what was supposed to be a three-week thing, my dad said he wanted a divorce.
She said it was the final puzzle piece she had to find to play Ma, and also to learn to forgive herself and come to learn to live in a new world, just like her character and her son. Larson also talked about living through her mother's experience and how much it took out of her. She gained a new understanding of her mother:
I was constantly going through these waves of forgiveness for myself, waves of forgiveness for her. I would call her, crying and apologizing for everything I didn’t understand and didn’t know.
As for the actress' father, Larson recently told Elle in her March cover story that she has not spoken to him in 10 years. She said of her estranged dad that as soon as her legal visitation rights with her father were over at age 16, she cut ties. "I don't think he ever really wanted to be a parent. It wasn't until truly recently that I realized that's why so much of my work was so volatile," she recalled. But she also said she wasn't comfortable being public about that relationship, because it was too vulnerable an experience to share with the world.
It's safe to say that she probably won't be thanking him on Oscar night — or maybe he'll get a shoutout in the ticker-tape name scroll that the telecast is trying out this year. But surely, if Larson takes home the Oscar, she will send love to her own Ma for her strength and protection.