Brie Larson Gets Down and Dirty in the Dirt in Free Fire

Brie Larson in Free Fire
Brie Larson in Free Fire

A long way from her glamorous strolls down red carpets, the kinetic comedy shoot-em-up “Free Fire” required Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson to cover herself in grit and grime.

“We shot pretty much in order; at first we were clean,” she tells Made in Hollywood reporter Patrick Stinson. “And then as time went on we got dirtier and dirtier. Then by the end of it, part of getting ready for the day was showing up in that warehouse and all of us would roll around in the dirt to get dirty again.”

As the only woman among a group of men who clearly need guns to boost their fragile egos, Larson plays a woman named Justine in this hybrid film that infuses slapstick comedy into a brutal bloody gunfight in claustrophobic quarters.

The Best Actress winner for “Room,” another movie that takes place in a cramped space, Larson savored the challenge of the genre-bending “Free Fire.”

“Something that I’m so interested in exploring in film right now is: How could we talk about harder concepts things that are difficult and points of contention in our culture, but do it in a way that’s funny, in a way that makes us laugh in a room together and kind of think about things in a new way,” she says. “I think that making people cry is very effective. But I think making people laugh can sometimes be more effective.”

And the film offers Larson another strong character in the enigmatic Justine. “She’s sort of mysterious, which is the thing that I love about her,” Larson says. “When the film starts you’re like: Why is she here? Everybody else, it kind of makes sense. And you don’t really understand why she’s there.”

But as the film goes on her purpose becomes clear. “One interesting thing about her is that she’s trying to not be part of it,” says Larson. “She’s trying to kind of blend in, but it’s impossible to blend in when you’re the only woman with eight other dudes. They become hyper-aware that you’re there. Within that, when all of these egos are bouncing around and get inflamed, she’s trying to keep everything calm, which is kind of impossible because she’s one calm voice in a sea of not-so-calm voices.”