Alison Brie is quite the powerhouse. The talented actress rose to fame on the shows Community and Mad Men, and has dozens of film and television credits under her belt. In spite of the fact that Brie herself told the New York Post that she’s not quite as “wholesome” as people think she is, she is one of those rare Hollywood stars who has managed to keep a squeaky clean image.
In addition to being a major celebrity, Brie is one half of a Hollywood power couple thanks, in part, to her husband Dave Franco. Brie has also proven her diverse talents by branching out into screenwriting. She has had quite the illustrious career already, and her star is only on the rise. Whether you are already familiar with Brie and her work or just getting to know this talented celeb, there is still a lot more to learn about her. Here’s the untold truth about Alison Brie.
Alison Brie's parents insisted on her going to college
From a young age, Alison Brie knew she wanted to act. The star told Basket of Kisses that she got her start in community theater at the age of five or six playing Toto in The Wizard of Oz. She performed with the Los Feliz Jewish Community Center in the summers growing up, calling herself a “drama nerd” who was president of her high school’s drama club in her senior year. Brie revealed that her parents were on board with her plans to become an actress and encouraged her acting talent, but there was one caveat: She had to go to college.
Enrolling in college was no great challenge for Brie, though — especially since her parents were happy for her to use college as a time to nurture her acting skills. Brie graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in theater. From there, she went on to Hollywood where she took more acting classes and began going on auditions.
Alison Brie originally planned to be a stage actress
While Alison Brie’s big break came from television, her original plan wasn’t actually to be on camera on all. Instead, Brie dreamed of a career as a stage actress. The star revealed to Glamour that being involved in theater was her first major passion. She even did some stage work early in her career, telling Basket of Kisses that she was in a production of Hamlet at the time she auditioned for Mad Men.
Brie not only loved theater, but detested the idea of being on TV when she was younger, revealing to Glamour that she once “looked down” on it. Thankfully, Brie eventually decided to give television, and subsequently film, a try. Obviously, her views on television have changed more than she could have imagined back when she was, as she put it, “pretentious.”
Brie said that she truly fell in love with acting on the camera, but that doesn’t mean she has put her stage dreams completely aside. She confessed that she hopes to be able to make a return to the theater one day.
Alison Brie gets her work ethic from her mom
Alison Brie has worked incredibly hard to get where she is today. It’s not just her passion for acting that keeps her motivated or her innate drive to succeed, though. Instead, Brie believes that her work ethic is something she inherited from her mother, who is one of her biggest inspirations. Brie confirmed to WTF with Marc Maron (via Heavy) that she’s close with both of her parents, who divorced when she was five, but the actress particularly looks up to her mother.
In an interview with The Guardian, Brie called her hard-working single mom a “tough cookie” who didn’t just work hard at her job in education and child development, but was also a master of time management and multitasking. Brie’s mom worked while raising Brie and her sister, juggling motherhood and her career, and did it all while getting her master’s degree.
Alison Brie is happy not being a leading lady
Alison Brie is definitely an A-lister, but she is often cast in a supporting role rather than in the lead. While some actresses might feel slighted by this, Brie is actually happy with where her career has taken her. Brie told The Globe and Mail that not being a “leading lady” means she is able to have a more diverse career as “there are more roles and more challenges if you’re the character actress.”
This is a big change from Brie’s college years, when she “played the ingénue.” Brie credits spending time in Glasgow, Scotland, where she did some theater training that “opened up [her] eyes” to the joys of exploring different types of roles as the work she did there was “cutting-edge, very demanding,” and encouraged her to “be fearless.” The experience completely changed Brie’s approach to her career and has likely led to the steady stream of work she has enjoyed over the years.
Alison Brie's first role was on a Disney show
Landing on a Disney show or in a Disney movie is the dream for a lot of young actors, but it’s not something Alison Brie ever envisioned for herself. The actress told W magazine that she grew up wanting to act but “did not dream of being a Disney kid” or even of being a child star. In a twist of fate, though, the first job she ended up booking was an episode of the Disney show Hannah Montana playing the “sort of love interest” of the main character Miley’s brother.
Brie revealed that she landed the gig by deciding to put on a Long Island accent for her audition. Her accent was later cut from the show, but Brie said that it made such an impression that she overheard other young women who were auditioning for the part being directed to “do a bit of a Long Island or … New York accent.”
Simultaneously working on Mad Men and Community was "pretty crazy" for Alison Brie
Two of Alison Brie’s best known characters are Annie on Community and Trudy on Mad Men. Brie was kept pretty busy while portraying those characters as, for a time, she was simultaneously appearing on both shows.
As a recurring guest star on Mad Men, playing Trudy wasn’t the steadiest of work so Brie was still going out on auditions. She had been on Mad Men for two years when she landed the role on Community, telling W magazine that she got the role through “dumb luck” as there was trouble casting the part and production was about to begin. They needed to cast the role quickly and the part ended up going to Brie.
Suddenly, Brie found herself incredibly busy. The actress told Vulture that she didn’t “have much of a life at all” for the eight months of the year that the shows were shooting at the same time. There were days when she would shoot for both shows on the same day, quickly changing costumes and slipping into another character, but Brie found the hectic pace “super fun.”
Alison Brie had to fight for her role on GLOW
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Alison Brie playing the role of Ruth in the wrestling drama GLOW, but she very nearly didn’t get the part. Although Brie immediately fell in love with the script and the character, she was told she wasn’t right for the role, in part because they really wanted to cast an unknown in the lead.
Brie went to bat for herself, convinced that the part was meant to be hers. Determined to book the gig, Brie went on a total of four auditions, telling Indiewire that she “never felt more like” her GLOW character — who also went on audition after audition trying to book a role — than she did on her journey to become Ruth. Brie revealed that every audition left her in tears.
The actress told The Scotsman that she was afraid she hadn’t displayed enough “grit” and “edge” in her previous roles to be seriously considered for the part of Ruth, so she “did physical things” like turning up to auditions in workout clothes and without makeup to prove that she wasn’t “too polished” to play the part.
Alison Brie finds being married to Dave Franco "empowering"
Alison Brie has been with actor Dave Franco, the brother of James Franco, since 2011, as noted by People, and the couple officially tied the knot in 2017. Brie loves married life, telling O, The Oprah Magazine that she has found being married to be “a very empowering experience” and that she appreciates the unconditional love and support she gets from her husband.
Even though both Brie and Franco are celebrities, they don’t live a fast-paced lifestyle. Instead, Brie said that, through her husband, she has learned the joys of “a more mellow lifestyle,” adding that she is finding her bliss in domesticity and loves staying at home with her hubby. Although the couple does love to travel together, their favorite things are staying home, watching TV, and cooking.
The couple also enjoys collaborating. Brie and Franco worked together on the films The Disaster Artist and The Little Hours. Brie gushed to HelloGiggles about how much she loves working with her “person,” saying there’s nothing like working with the one “you feel the most comfortable with in the world.”
Alison Brie is choosing to be childfree
Alison Brie doesn’t have kids and she’s happy keeping it that way. In an interview with The Sunday Times (via Harper’s Bazaar), the actress revealed that she and her husband, Dave Franco, are perfectly happy focusing on their careers instead of raising a family. While she admitted that having a kid “would be nice,” Brie doesn’t want to invite that stress into her life — not to mention the fact that finding a time to actually carry a child would be a logistical nightmare.
Brie and her husband are, however, fur parents. The couple have two cats, Harry and Arturo, that they dote on. Brie said that she and Franco are very involved with Harry and Arturo’s lives — even though they’re a little weird. Brie revealed to The Oprah Magazine that Harry and Arturo “like to cuddle sometimes” in a risqué pose, which she calls “the funniest” thing her fur babies do.
Alison Brie's grandmother's struggle with mental illness inspired her to write Horse Girl
Alison Brie made her screenwriting debut with the 2020 Netflix film Horse Girl, which is about a horse-obsessed woman grappling with her mental health who is haunted by the memory of her mentally ill grandmother.
The film, which was co-written with the film’s director, Jeff Baena, was inspired in large part by Brie’s grandmother who, similar to Horse Girl‘s protagonist, struggled with mental illness. Brie described her grandmother to Uproxx as “a paranoid schizophrenic” whose story she had long wanted to explore. While Brie didn’t exactly recreate her family’s story on the screen, she did dive into her own emotions about growing up with the looming fear that her grandmother’s illness would one day be passed down to her.
Brie revealed to Vulture that she herself has struggled with depression and knows “the feeling of being helpless, feeling powerless, feeling alone.” Brie added that she went through her “deepest bout of depression” not long before she began to write Horse Girl.
Alison Brie chooses roles that push her out of her comfort zone
Alison Brie is not afraid of a challenge. In fact, the bigger the challenge the better. The actress explained to Business Insider that, when it comes to her career, she’s not going to be complacent. Instead, she’s always on the lookout for roles that challenge her and help her grow as an artist. She said that her mission is to take on roles that are “different from material” she has previously worked on. Venturing out into the unknown is often easier said than done, but Brie relishes the excitement, saying that she is “intrigued by things that scare me.”
Taking on the kinds of roles she wants to hasn’t always been that straightforward, though, especially when she was first starting her career. Brie told the Independent that turning down roles can be risky because there’s the chance that “doors stop opening” if you’re too “picky.” Brie added that she wants “to play meaty roles,” but parts that seem to be shallow “on the surface” have also helped her skills grow.
Alison Brie is determined to separate her private life from her work life
Alison Brie is one of those celebrities who is very careful about how much information she shares with the public. Her Instagram feed is filled with posts, but most of them are work-related and share few details of her personal life. She’s also reluctant to dish too much about her relationship with Dave Franco. “Your private life is your private life, and if you commodify it, there’s no turning back,” she told BuzzFeed News.
Keeping details about her personal life on lockdown isn’t just about maintaining some semblance of privacy in a very public industry. It’s also about controlling her image and not giving the tabloids any ammunition. The actress cited how Jennifer Aniston’s love life has often been the subject of tabloid scrutiny. Instead, Brie would prefer to keep the focus on her career, saying she doesn’t just want to “be known as someone’s wife.”
Alison Brie really wants to portray a superhero
Alison Brie has quite the diverse resume and has proven herself both as a comedic actress and a dramatic actress. But there’s one big thing left on Brie’s bucket list: She wants to star in a superhero movie. She told Business Insider in 2017 that she “would love to” have the opportunity to play a superhero, “especially after working on GLOW” as the cast of the show already “felt like … superheroes.” While GLOW satisfied some of Brie’s craving for superhero stardom, she said that it also “whet [her] appetite” for more. Brie isn’t choosy about which superhero she’d play, saying she’s “open for any.”
The actress may just get her wish. In a February 2020 appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Corden mentioned that a Disney casting call for She-Hulk was looking for an “Alison Brie type.” Brie joked that she “made some phone calls” after seeing the announcement, fueling Corden’s suspicion that she had been cast in the role. As of this writing, no official announcement has been made, but She-Hulk would definitely be the perfect role for Brie.
Alison Brie once worked as a clown
Alison Brie is quite the comedian and has had audiences cracking up since her days on Community. It turns out that she comes by that comedic talent honestly, although it’s not from a traditional route like stand-up or improv. Instead, Brie honed her funny chops in the time she spent working as a clown named Sunny. Brie told Chelsey that she was 17 or 18 at the time, young enough that being a clown was a fun part-time job and “not tragic.”
Brie said she wore the full clown getup as Sunny — sporting a painted face, a wig, and a red nose — and performed for kids at birthday parties making balloon animals and painting faces. The scariest part of the job wasn’t actually being a clown, it was the kids. “There is nothing more terrifying than walking in alone to a group of 20 seven-year-olds,” said Brie, although she added that the high pressure environment prepared her well for the acting industry.
Alison Brie does all of her own stunts
Even though Alison Brie went into GLOW not even being able to do a pushup, she kicked her exercise into high gear when she got the part on the show. By November 2017, she was able to do 40 pullups in a row, even though she told Women’s Health she never imagined she’d even be able to do ten. In addition to working out and weight training, Brie learned to wrestle as part of her hardcore training so that she could do all of her own stunts for the show.
The actress told AV Club that getting into such good shape was “really empowering and exciting,” especially as her training focused on building strength and skill, not weight loss. The training changed Brie’s relationship with her body, and she began to think of her body “like an athlete” would.
Now, she’s in really, really good shape and could probably beat up her husband — not that she would ever do such a thing. She did, however, admit to W magazine that she’s been “known to wrestle our cat a little bit.”
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