On the Verge: Brie Larson

Brie Larson shows off her comic chops opposite Jonah Hill in the big-screen version of 21 Jump Street.

Photography by Santiago & Mauricio Styled by Patrick Mackie

Brie Larson was a rather preco­cious toddler. “I was 3 when I told my mom that I knew what my dharma was and that I wanted to be an actor,” says the ­Sacramento, California–born starlet. As the daughter of not Buddhist monks but two chiropractors, Larson isn’t sure where she found her inspiration, but at 22, she’s ­making good on her word. She’s already tested her dramatic chops—as Woody ­Harrelson’s daughter in Rampart, about the infamous Los Angeles police-corruption scandal. And this month she’s appearing in another type of cop film—as a student who befriends Jonah Hill, a baby-faced investigator infiltrating a high school in 21 Jump Street, a comedy inspired by the eighties TV series. The movie set was as close as Larson ever got to attending a high school, as she spent her youth starring in fake commercials (“Malibu Mudslide Barbie”) on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and becoming a bona fide pop star. She was handpicked by Tommy Mottola to make her own record and to open for Jesse ­McCartney on his Beautiful Soul tour. Now the multi-hyphenate Larson can add directing and writing to her résumé: Her short film, The Arm, was selected to show at Sundance. It’s enough to overwhelm most girls, but Larson is seemingly anxiety-free. “I’m so used to swimming with the piranhas,” she says. “And they’re really not that bad.”