Brie Larson's ever-powerful hero Carol Danvers made her big screen debut earlier this march, with the release of Captain Marvel, from Marvel Studios. The film remains the second-highest-grossing venture of 2019, behind only Avengers: Endgame. While all eyes were on Larson and her titular turn, she wasn't the only one making her Marvel debut. Enter actress Sharon Blynn.
Blynn played the role of Soren, the wife of Skrull leader Talos, who had been a refugee for some time before she's finally introduced in the third act of the film. Her big scene is one of the most emotionally powerful in the entire movie, but it doesn't hold a candle to Blynn's story leading up to Captain Marvel.
In the year 2000, Blynn began a fight for her life after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a battle that took three difficult years. But Blynn came out on the other side even stronger, and she's now using her platform as a performer to help other women through the same fight. With Captain Marvel finally getting its home release this past week, ComicBook.com spoke with Blynn about her journey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"I had ovarian cancer. I was diagnosed at the age of 28, and at the time I was working in the music business," Blynn told us. "I had actually left my job, because I loved music so much, but the music business sometimes was not very connected to music, so to speak. So I had taken a pause. I left the job and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. Something with music, but I wasn't sure what. I went to London, I was dating a guy for about five years at that point, a New York, London transatlantic love. Went over there to spend time with him and figure out what I wanted to do next. That fall I had some stomach problems, what I thought were stomach problems, and made a bunch of appointments with doctors back home in New York to figure out what was going on.
"But in the meantime, I took a trip to see my parents in Miami for a week and had another stomach attack and a bunch of doctors appointments occurred and four or five consultations later I ended up with oncologists and having surgery. And with ovarian cancer, there's no test, that's also part of the challenge. So there's no screening tests, no early detection. So the only way ultimately to diagnose ovarian cancer is going there, take whatever you think is going on out, look at it under a microscope, and then get the pathology. So I was very abruptly thrust into this medical mystery tour, and that one week vacation actually became three years of all of that.
"So during that experience, I went through all the different physical changes that one goes through with cancer treatment and that included hair loss. And at the time I had really long hair. It was my trademark, like hippie, jazz chick hair, like down to my lower back. And it was a huge part of my identity, and losing that was really scary at first and made me wonder, 'Okay, who am I without my hair? Am I still pretty? Am I still me? What does all this mean?' And also thinking about my biology. 'Okay, now, if I don't have ovaries, now biologically what does that mean as far as being a woman? And a 28 year old woman at that?' So all these questions around my femininity and my wholeness as a woman were thrust into my existence.
"And I was actually mad that I had to question these things while I'm trying to survive cancer. And especially with the hair loss. I met a lot of women who struggled more with losing hair than having cancer at all. And I just found this imbalance, it was very striking, and something in me started to spark and I wanted to do something to change that. It pissed me off, frankly, that 'Why are we worried about what we look like when we're trying to survive this thing?'
"So there was a moment that happened where a picture of me ended up in the paper with an actress who was doing the play Wick, a woman had a shaved head in the play, and I shaved her head for fun, because I wanted to shave her head, because I had to have people shave my head. And the picture's ended up on the cover of the arts and major section in the Miami Herald and it was this really joyful, beautiful picture. And people responded to it in such a positive way. They called my parents, they also didn't realize I was there and that I was going through cancer. They're [saying] how they love that picture, and they know someone going through treatment, and they're going to send them the article because the picture made them feel so good. So that then locked in this concept of, 'Oh, the power of an image to change our mood, our feeling, and also a specific image. What does that image evoke?'
"That started to get more solidified as I started thinking about it more when I did finish and I had my last surgery. I had two surgeries, I had two recurrences, and it came back during chemo, and then my final surgery I ended up letting go of both ovaries, and I went back to New York and wrote a mission statement for Bald is Beautiful, and put it on the back of the picture and started. That was my first headshot was my black and white photos of myself, and the Bald is Beautiful mission statement on the back. And pounding the pavement in New York City to work as an actor, and also doing some modeling as well. And that was the beginning of Bald is Beautiful."
Bald in the Beautiful is the organization that Blynn founded, which is designed to empower women who have dealt with the "traumatic aspects of the cancer experience," showing them that their beauty, power, and femininity are from within, "and are not diminished in any way by the effects of having cancer." (Click here to visit the official Bald is Beautiful website and learn more about the awesome organization.)
Blynn's battle with cancer lasted from 2000 to 2003, and she's now 16.5 years cancer-free. While the fight was difficult, the actress and advocate says that it changed her life "in the most extraordinary and beautiful ways," giving her a "strong sense of purpose" to work and change people's lives with the better, staring with her own.
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TODAY IS MY SWEET 16! >Sixteen years o’ being cancer-free! 16 years. >Laughter and tears. >Realizing dreams, conquering fears. 16 years. >Heart-shredding lows and soul-filling joys. >Learning and expanding, diving headlong into the void. 16 years. >Friends, family, loved ones — enduring and new. >Compassionate mirrors to enlighten my view. 16 years. >A single drop of water holds an entire universe. >May we all have an ocean’s worth >Of Life and Love in every moment. So . . . >Here’s to you, sweet and vicious cancer. >You are the question and the answer, a tricky lil’ gangster. >I’m thankful to be here >On this extended stay. >And I’m more ALIVE . . . >Every day in every way. 💕😎🙏 ... #baldisbeautiful #sweet16 #16YearsCancerFree #OvarianCancerFree
After several smaller roles in various TV shows and movies, Blynn eventually landed the role of Soren in Captain Marvel. Like many other actors who work with Marvel Studios, she didn't know much about the part -- or the movie -- throughout the casting process.
"That audition was cloaked in mystery," Blynn said. "I'm trying to remember. I think I knew it was Marvel, but I had no idea what movie it was. I had no idea what the role actually was. I think it said 'day player' or something very generic, and it had two sentences of a scenario that I had to create. There was no dialogue in the audition scene, it was just creating a scenario visually and emotionally without any words. And it was actually the scene that you see, so creating that scene of basically a woman who's a refugee and hearing that her husband might have come home, like there's a ship that has arrived and going towards where that ship arrived and not knowing if I'm going to see my husband or not. And then seeing him and recognizing that it's him and then embracing, but of course in an empty room with a camera, there's no embrace. How do I create an embrace without actually hugging someone? And showing him our daughter, you know all that stuff. Just creating that visually. And so that's one of the more challenging kinds of additions, frankly, having tons of lines is in some ways easier. It was really beautiful to work on that because as an actor it's like a great experience to get to do that kind of thing."
Of course, the scene that Blynn is describing is one of the biggest moments of Captain Marvel, as it confirms that Talos and the Skrulls are actually the victims, not the villains. This was a massive twist for fans of the comics, as the Skrulls have long been evil characters in the source material. That said, Blynn and some of the other actors involved didn't actually get the context of the scene itself until much later on.
"I got that scene, but I didn't understand the context of the plot line," she explained. "So I just knew I was reuniting with my husband and my daughter, and not much outside of that. And I didn't even know how that would end up. I had a hint of it, because we're at the dinner table at Maria Rambeau's house, and we're all chatty and hanging out, you know what I mean? So there's hints of what's going on. Like, 'Okay, we're friends now.' But the full context was not known to me until I saw the movie myself."
Blynn eventually saw the movie on the Tuesday before it opened in theaters, at a screening with the rest of the cast and crew. It wasn't until that Wednesday, two days before the movie opened, that Blynn was finally allowed to tell people about her role.
"I mean, I couldn't even tell my parents," she adnmitted. "I wasn't even allowed to tell anyone I was in a Marvel movie, much less Captain Marvel. And I booked it in March of last year, so a whole year of there were five people on the planet other than myself that knew what was going on. And that's just because they had to, now I know who to count on if I need to keep a secret. But I held onto this for a year, and I didn't even tell my parents until the Wednesday before the movie came out on Friday. And then finally like, 'Okay that thing that I couldn't tell you? It's Captain Marvel.'"
The last time we see Soren, Talos, and the other Skrulls in Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is leading them out into space to try and find a new home. Since the movie is set in the '90s, the rest of the MCU continuity doesn't really pick up until the 2000s, there's a lot of story left to be told for the Skrulls. Does that mean we could see Soren and her family again?
'I've been asked [about what's next], now that when I saw the movie too, I was like, 'Okay, well what does that happen?' I don't know, but it'd nice to find out."0comments
If there's ever a chance to reprise the role of Soren in the future, Blynn will have just one thing to say" "Heck yeah. Are you kidding me?!"
You can catch Sharon Blynn opposite Brie Larson and Ben Mendelsohn in Captain Marvel, now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.