UPDATED with video. Brie Larson, fresh off her star turn in Captain Marvel, said her decision to direct the feature film Unicorn Store on Netflix was rooted in a desire to use the industry capital conferred by her Oscar win and rising fortunes as an actor.
“We have to break these boundaries,” she said during an appearance at Tina Brown’s Women in the World conference in New York. “Whatever that currency is, I’m spending it. I’m not going to save it in an account. We need the change now.” While directing was completely new to her, she added, “I’m not afraid of falling on my face because I’ve done this my whole life. It’s like, ‘That’s done. Next.'”
Larson said the light and sweet Unicorn experience was a welcome change of pace. “I loved it,” she said. “It was nice to take a break from the dramatic roles.”
Moderator Radhika Jones, editor in chief of Vanity Fair, asked about Larson’s reflections on breaking the $1 billion global box office barrier, rare air for a female-fronted title. “I’m grateful to have broken this glass ceiling,” she said, but “I don’t know why it was so hard for people to believe it could happen.”
Asked about the opportunity to stake a claim for women as leads in massive tentpoles, she replied, “I understand film history. … This weird idea that women maybe can’t open movies is bogus.”
In terms of any pressure to deliver, she said, “I’m such an idiot. I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I spent a lot of time thinking about it before taking the role.”
Commanding a salary comparable to male stars ended up being another important aspect to the film’s impact, she said. “I want to talk about it, especially in a place like this,” she said. “It’s a trap that they make women feel icky about money” in all aspects of life, beyond Hollywood.
Offering a message to other women negotiating salaries, she said, “Don’t even do it for you. Do it for the women who are going to come after you.”
When she comprehended the stakes of her compensation, she recalled, “I had to learn pretty quickly to choose myself.”
Here’s the full video of the discussion: