On December 1st, 2015, I was lucky enough to be invited by Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures to join other journalists to observe the filming of Kong: Skull Island and interview members of the cast and crew in Hawaii. Note the interview may go into spoiler territory - just a head's up! No photos were allowed on set. A few of the interviews are rather lengthy so relax and make yourself comfortable for some fun reading. All interviews were transcribed by Noah Percival.
- Chris Mirjahangir
Brie: Well I play a woman to start. I play a journalist. A photographer who ends up joining this cast of characters. I end up with these cast of characters and I have my own sort of motive as to why I'm here. That's the interesting thing about this movie. It's a group of misfits that are all coming from different angles looking at the same thing. You get to see how many different views in regards to nature and how we should handle it are dealt with from many different perspectives. So I come in as kind of a background person, one who's just here to take photos and as it progresses I have to get a little bit more hands on.
(Statement directed to reporters:) Good luck to you guys keeping these secrets, it's so hard! It's the hardest part for me is like not being able to share, 'cause it's so incredible and my friends and family are like "What'd you do today?" Can't say! Can't show you a photo, you'll see it in a year and a half!
Reporter: Do they train you in keeping secrets?
Brie: They don't train you but I feel the weight of how important it is to keep a secret. I've been thinking about it a lot even just personal secrets, or having secrets with friends and family. It's a lot of work to keep a secret and this is one that's really an exciting one so it's really hard to like hold onto and not want to just share 'cause everything we're doing here, every time I look in the monitor I'm so excited by, and in awe of, and it's so much bigger in scope and in scale than anything else that I've done and I'm doing things I've never done before like working with CGI and doing things that are very physical. Everything I've done before is more visceral and more emotional and more subtle and I come from an independent film world. There's such a huge group of us and everyone is just like the top of their game, and I'm learning so many new skills. I just feel like a kid everyday! Everything we're doing is so playful and childlike that it's so refreshing and exciting to come here every day!
Reporter: Was that part of the draw for you? Or why were you drawn to this movie?
Brie: The huge part of it is what the story is. I really love big movies, but my favorite ones were ones that have real structure and backbone to them. That it's not just a group of people fighting for some sort of abstract thing that's gonna save the world. There's some meaning behind it and something that we can enjoy it as we're in the theater, but then as we walk out we go "Wow there's something much deeper at play here. There's something that connects me to my life." It's the reason why I love and have always loved Star Wars so much. It's so rooted in myth, it's so rooted in the mental process of the brain, and it helps us to deal with these abstract things that are happening in our brain and make us feel less alone. So to do a movie like this is really, really, tough. It's really hard to make any movie but a movie like this requires a lot of physical work and a good attitude every day. So it needs to be something that's worth fighting for everyday and I feel like this is because of the actual structure of the story itself and the meaning behind all of this.
Reporter: Can you talk a little bit about your character's relationship with Tom's character and the other characters in the film? We've heard for example that some of them regard her as kind of like Jane Fonda during the Vietnam war, whereas with Tom she's kind of got like a kindred spirit who's also a sparring partner.
Brie: They clock pretty quickly that they're both the only two people who are not with a group. They're the only solos. At first I think they're seizing each other out because they both also come from backgrounds where they need to be very discrete and you have to sort of screen a person before you open up and then I think quite quickly they realize that they're both here for the same thing and that they're going to need to stick with each other, because nobody else is looking out for them except them and I think that's where all of that comes together. Because the two of them have different skills they become two halves.
Reporter: And then the rest of the group? What's her dynamic with them?
Brie: Because of the period she's not seen as a valuable team member at first, but she's incredibly strong-willed and has had to be in an all-male environment for so long, and she has to learn how to blend in, that's a huge part of her job. So you see at the beginning of the movie a sense that she's very capable of taking control of the situation and creating boundaries. Because she's just there to get a job done. It's not about her and it really ends quite quickly any sense of belittling. Especially from a group of men that have been far away from home and away from American women for a while.
Reporter: Now you've said your character kind of has her own motivations going into this big trip. Are you at liberty to say whether it has more to do with the mystique of Skull Island? Or if you have any sort of governmental conspiracies going on.
Brie: You mean my love of this project?
Reporter: No your character, like why she comes on the trip?
Brie: Oh, my character! I think that she goes into it not knowing what's happening but knows that something is up. She's been in this field long enough to smell when something's off and that there's a trail that needs to be followed and I think it's a situation of the right person meeting the right situation. So maybe there's a group of people that in it are looking at it from one perspective, but she sees that there's a potential for seeing it at a different angle and jumps on it because she believes that there could quite possibly be some sort of truth that needs to be revealed.
It's known quite early on that although she's a war photographer, she's not really gung ho about the war either, and so she has a point of view that's different from a lot of the people that she's surrounded by and goes into it assuming she could be the only one that has that perspective. Like I said, it's really good at camouflaging and getting into that world. I always go back to the end of The Wizard of Oz where the only way they can get into the fortress is by putting on the cloaks of the guards in order to get in. That's what I feel like she's doing at the beginning.
Reporter: In previous Kong movies the female lead is usually kind of in distress or has some romance with Kong. Are you able to talk about what your relationship with Kong is or how your character regards him in this film?
Brie: I think that there is a really beautiful thing because I think there is so much myth in this and part of myth is masculine and feminine, anima and animus, and so because of her feminine energy I feel like she is a little further ahead in having an interest and respect for nature and immediately clocks that this is not about man overcoming this creature but working with it and really begins to appreciate it. Through that I think that she has a closer, more loving and intimate relationship with Kong than with those that are just kind of bulldozing into it.
Reporter: So love scene definitely.
Brie: Definitely a love scene! No, I'm kidding!
Reporter: The first time you read the script, what were you impressions of your character and also is she someone that you would have wanted to see when you were younger onscreen, who you think kids are going to relate to?
Brie: That's my hope. The truth is it's just me and Tian here holding it down as the women of this movie. We have I think twelve strong representations of masculine and we have two of women. So I can't say that it's like an entire representation of what it's like to be a woman, but I'm trying my best and Tian and I are working together to make this a film that I think young girls and women will be excited about. It's such an exciting time right now that we're really embracing women taking charge and not just in a way that's like a man. That it's their own path and I think that this movie does a great job of embracing that. That she's not just falling in line with everybody else. That she has her own voice and that voice is also really strong and is valid and is heard.
Reporter: We heard you're taking actual photos throughout the shoot.
Reporter: Is that both to help get into your character as well as just to have your own fun personal project? Is there any chance we might see this published in a book someday the way Jeff Bridges does that on every film he does?
Brie: I'm hoping that they can be released or be potentially helpful for press in some way. I have no problem sharing those. Part of it is just anything I can do to see from my character's perspective is so helpful and then you start to see everything that way. I took photography for many years and so it's something that I love anyway, and I usually pick up some sort of hobby on any movie so that you have something that keeps your brain creative and sort of lubricated while you're on set, but it doesn't take you way. Like I've gotten into making fons and I've gotten into embroidery and so this just felt like an extension of that, of like keeping me in the project as we go along. My hope is that the photographs are good at the end, but I don't know yet.
Reporter: Because it's all on film of course.
Brie: Yeah, my first batch of eight rolls are being developed right now and I'm trying to be upbeat about it, but I'm also like terrified of what the outcome is!
Reporter: Thank you!
Brie: Thank you!
Brie Larson is an American actress, director, and singer. Her acting career began when she appeared in the 2001 television sitcom Raising Dad, and she has since garnered recognition for her roles in movies such as Hoot (2006), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), 21 Jump Street (2012), and Short Term 12 (2013).
||Toho Kingdom/Roundtable reporters
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