She’s an all-powerful Air Force pilot from outer space. He’s a government desk jockey with zero extraterrestrial experience. This intergalactic odd couple forms the backbone of Captain Marvel (out March 8), the 1990s-set film that follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and an orange cat named Goose as they try to stop invading aliens from treating Planet Earth as their next battlefield.
It’s a playful, trash-talking relationship based in reality. Since starring together in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and Larson’s directorial debut, Unicorn Store (premiering April 5 on Netflix), Larson and Jackson have become the kind of buddies who lean on each other’s shoulders in interviews and finish each other’s sentences. “Marvel was like, ‘Is there anybody that you’d wanna do [the movie] with?’” Larson recalls. “And I was like, ‘Please. I need to be with my pal. Don’t let me do it alone!’”
Ahead of Captain Marvel’s release, Larson and Jackson sat down with EW to talk aliens, Jedi masters, and the magnitude of Marvel fame. (They also opened up about their scene-stealing costar: Goose the cat.)
And as a special bonus, EW is honoring Captain Marvel’s retro setting by taking this week’s cover back to 1995, complete with our old fonts and logos. Make sure to pick up a copy on stands Friday to experience the full issue in all its throwback glory.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Brie, when you first signed on to Captain Marvel, did Sam give you any advice about joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
BRIE LARSON: No, he won’t give me advice! I even asked him. He asked to go to dinner with me the night before I was leaving to go to the  Oscars, and I thought he was gonna give me some sage wisdom. At the end of dinner, he had said nothing about it, and I was like, “Well, aren’t you gonna tell me some piece of advice?” He’s like, “No. Are you gonna give me advice?” I’m like, “No.” He was like, “You’re fine. Enjoy it.” It was the same thing with [Captain Marvel].
SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Yeah, I have this memory of saying to you, “Well, things will get a bit different just because of the crazy nature of what this whole thing is.”
LARSON: You mean with Marvel?
JACKSON: With becoming that kind of character in that kind of movie. It just changes the game in another kind of way. ’Cause I had all this interesting kind of popularity or whatever, but when I got into the Star Wars universe, it exponentially changed. You become godlike in a crazy kinda way. I [became more famous] because I was a Jedi, so no matter where I went, I got accosted by the Jedi council of wherever.
LARSON: It’s so cool. I wish I was a Jedi.
JACKSON: [You hear] chanting outside your hotel-room window at night. It’s like, “You’re adults, go away!”
LARSON: I got to hold his lightsaber! He brought it to me on set on May the 4th, and I cried. It was so cool. I wanna be a Jedi.
You’ve talked before about how the size and scale of Captain Marvel hasn’t felt real to you yet. Has that started to change at all?
LARSON: You have brief moments. Like when we did an event in Singapore, I felt a little bit of something. But I feel grateful that I get to be the conduit for a certain symbol. I don’t recognize it as being me. I don’t think that when people are excited or emotional about this character or this movie, that has anything to do with me.
JACKSON: But you know, you’re gonna have squeal moments now. Wherever you go, it’s gonna be, “Ah! Captain Marvel, ah!”
LARSON: But it’s important to me to be like, “I’m not Captain Marvel. I’m not.”
JACKSON: I know. But don’t worry about it. As long as you have hold of that, it’s fine. It’s you being who you are and understanding that it’s one of the myriad of characters that you played or are going to play in your lifetime, and you’re grateful.
LARSON: I do. I feel more grateful than I thought I would feel at this. I thought I would be more shaken by this process. Instead, I just feel more curious, and it’s just like a weird dream that we’re in right now. I’m more interested in it than I thought my introverted self could handle.
Sam, you’ve played Nick Fury in eight Marvel movies already, but this is a younger, more naive Fury. What was it about exploring this pre-eye-patch version that interested you?
JACKSON: Well, the fact that he didn’t have that big chip on his shoulder yet. There’s something still light about Nick Fury. He’d been in some dark stuff, so there’s still a bunch of stuff that hasn’t been explored about him through the war and through his years as a spy in the shadow world or whatever. But now he’s on a desk. It’s kinda like he’s on hiatus. He’s sitting at this desk trying to figure out, “Okay, where’s the threat coming from?” [Carol is] his first extraterrestrial. She opens up a whole new world for him.
The film’s chief villains, the Skrulls, do a lot of shape-shifting and impersonation in this movie. If you were trying to prove to each other that you weren’t a Skrull, what would you say?
LARSON: I feel like I’d probably mention something from Kong.
JACKSON: Oh, you know the one question that you could ask that would totally identify me? “Who’s your least favorite person on Kong?”
LARSON: It’s so true.
JACKSON: I mean, there’s a couple answers she could give me, but I would know they would be right. I would know.
This film is Carol Danvers’ story, but it’s also a story about female friendship, especially in Carol’s relationship with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her daughter. What was it about that theme you wanted to explore?
LARSON: I think because it’s 2019, and what 2019 is about, really, is intersectional feminism. There’s just no question that we would have to show what it means to be all different kinds of women, that we don’t just have one type. It became a great opportunity, even with things like the love story. [We wanted] to make that big love— that lost love, that love that’s found again—be with [Carol’s] best friend. To show that, that’s incredibly powerful and gripping, and you could go to the ends of the Earth and fight till the end for your best friend. It’s perfect to me and so meaningful. To me, that’s a part of what the meditation of this movie is: It’s female strength, but what is female strength? What are the different ways that can look?
JACKSON: It’s kinda crazy, too, that being Captain Marvel doesn’t necessarily define you. When you do make the discovery of who Carol Danvers was and what was going on, she had a life [before getting her powers], and she’s pretty badass already. So that whole thing about, you know, “You are what we made you.” It’s like, “That’s some bulls—.” Like, “I was a badass way before we got there.”
LARSON: But that’s a huge part of why I felt comfortable doing this, because originally I was like, “I’m not interested in an idealized version of perfection.” I’m not interested in portraying perfect, strong women that never make the wrong choice because I consider myself a risk-taker, and I make a lot of mistakes because of that. That’s how it works. Big swings sometimes mean a big failure.
We also have to talk about your feline costar: Reggie, who plays Goose the cat. Brie, is it true you’re allergic to cats?
LARSON: I’m severely allergic. Not just kind of allergic — like, very, very allergic.
JACKSON: Were you Benadryl-ing all day when he was on set?
LARSON: All day. It became this joke because the crew would watch me all day doing crazy stunts. I did that ropes course stunt 50 feet up in the air on the first week. I threw [a stunt person] in a judo throw on a moving train, day two. But then the cat showed up on set and I was like, “We need to have a plan! We need to have a conversation!” I see cat hair flying, [and] I’ve got maybe 10 minutes before I break out in hives.
Sam, how did you get along with Reggie?
JACKSON: Fine! All those things are snack-oriented. You give them a snack, you talk to them in a relatively kind tone, and give them another snack when it’s over. Next time they see you, it’s like, “Oh, that’s the dude with the snacks!”
LARSON: I mean, that’s basically how I work, too.
Tell me about working with Ben Mendelsohn, as both Nick Fury’s human boss and the Skrull leader Talos.
JACKSON: We had to wait on him to get green, but once he got there, it was like, “Hey, guys, let’s fly!”
LARSON: You would know he was arriving on set ’cause you could hear the boom box coming, and [he was] always dancing.
JACKSON: He had a big lawn chair and a cigarette.
LARSON: In Louisiana, he’d sit in the hammock. He would just be laying outside in Louisiana, looking like fully an alien.
JACKSON: Swinging and smoking.
LARSON: His boots were really tall in the movie, but if you weren’t seeing his feet, they’d give him comfort shoes. But they needed him to be the same height, so his comfort shoes were huge rainbow platform Gucci sneakers. So imagine the full Skrull look, but with those shoes.
JACKSON: Gucci sneaks!
LARSON: The first day he wore them, everyone was like, “Are we making a mistake and that should be his shoe? It’s kinda good.”
So after three movies together, what’s next?
LARSON: He’s already begging to do the next thing I direct.
JACKSON: I’m still convincing her. She’s not convinced I’m her muse yet.
LARSON: The thing I’m writing right now, there’s no part for you in it! But I will find something for you. I wanna do everything with you, Sam.
JACKSON: I mean, I can just walk across the screen. I don’t have to say anything. I’ll just roll on by.
And everybody will be like, “Is that… Samuel L. Jackson?”
LARSON: Yeah, that’s why he wants to do it. For people to be like, “Why is he just grabbing a sandwich in the background? So weird.”
JACKSON: It’s one of my biggest regrets in the world that when we were shooting The Avengers in Albuquerque, I didn’t go to Gus’ fried chicken [restaurant] and just walk in and buy a bag of chicken and walk out. Which is what I wanted to do for Breaking Bad.
LARSON: Now we can save it; we can do it in my movie!
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