Personality Complex is a regular feature of Complex's Pop Culture channel, where you'll be introduced to rising stars of film and television.
Brianne Howey certainly looks like the girl next door, and, at heart, she really is. The Southern California native is as grounded as they come; she prefers spending her time wandering farmers’ markets or binge-watching TV shows on Netflix—Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards are her favorites. On screen, however, she tends to play a bit feistier. Viewers may recognize her long blonde locks and wide-eyed look of angelic innocence from the ABC series Twisted and Revenge, or from featured roles in Sucker Punch, Red Scare, and Criminal Minds.
And now, she's on a tear promoting her biggest film yet, Horrible Bosses 2. Though Howey had only touched down in the Big Apple that morning, she showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to Complex’s office for her interview and photo shoot. She was a natural in front of the camera, posing with the confidence of a girl who knows she looks great. After nailing her shoot, Howey sat down to share some insight on her life before hitting it big on-screen, her own horrible bosses, and what's coming up in 2015.
Your biggest project coming up is Horrible Bosses 2. Can you talk about your role in that?
I play Candy. In Horrible Bosses 2, the main guys are tired of working for other people so they start their own company and in their hiring process for their new company I am an under-qualified girl that they hire to work for them. So not all three of them are immediately on board because I walk on with no experience, but Jason Sudekis’ character is completely on board, so he convinces them to hire me.
So are you playing a ditz?
Yeah, exactly. It’s really fun. She just walks in there with so much confidence and hands them her resume, even though only things on it are where she went to elementary school, junior high, and high school. She's ballsy, very confident. She gets it and it still works out in her favor.
Have you ever had a horrible boss of your own?
I had one boss, actually, when I was working here in New York who had really terrible OCD. So everything he did he had to do like 18 times. He would text me when he wasn’t at work asking me to go make sure all the doors were locked and make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, or I’d have to send him pictures to prove it. He would drive me crazy, but I loved him.
What job was that?
I used to work at a hair salon here. It was called Stuart Hirsch Hair Salon. It was down on LaGuardia.
What was your first job?
I worked at a coffee shop in my hometown in California. I was not very good at it. They left me alone once and someone asked for a coffee, just a drip, so I did the drip and I didn’t pull the level all the way back up, but I gave them their coffee. So then like 20 minutes went by and the coffee had just been pouring for like 20 minutes. I looked down and I was just standing in an inch of coffee of the floor. It was horrible. I’m not meant to be a barista.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
I didn’t actually. I didn’t really think of acting as a serious career until I was in college. When I was little, I wanted to be a flight attendant or something. I love to travel. My family traveled a lot so I was just always on airplanes and that just looked like fun and the ladies were really cool. They were so cute and so helpful and they got to travel everywhere.
Where was your favorite place that you traveled as a kid?
We went to Australia. We lived in Melbourne for nine months. It was amazing. I wish I was older so I could’ve appreciated it a little bit more. But I was obsessed with Bananas in Pajamas and Madeline and all that Australian kids stuff.
Do you have a favorite memory from that time?
I had my 8th birthday there, it was a Bananas in Pajamas-themed birthday party. Everything was Bananas in Pajamas.
What’s the biggest star-struck moment that you’ve had so far?
Horrible Bosses 2 was pretty intense because it was Jason Sudekis and Jason Bateman and Charlie Day. So one of them alone would already be like, “Oh god I can’t believe I’m standing in front of them.” I remember sitting in a scene across from all of them, thinking I had pinch myself.
Because it's led by those comedy geniuses, did you get to improvise on Horrible Bosses 2 at all?
Yeah, they totally put me on the spot, but thank God I did improv in high school. I mean, I was a little rusty but it was just really inspiring. I just have so much respect and they’re really, really talented people.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
There’s this project Viral coming out next year. It’s a Jason Blumhouse production and it’s directed by the same guys who directed Paranormal Activity, so it’s more of a horror-thriller.
Are you a big fan of the horror genre?
A little bit. I get very scared. I’m such a wimp. But it was cool, it’s the same directors who also directed Catfish, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. They’re really young, up-and-coming directors and they were great to work with. Also, because they were so young, they were just so open to any creative changes and collaborative. It felt more like when I was at NYU doing student films; everyone has a say and you’re all involved and everyone’s there to do it together.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I live with my boyfriend, and we see lots of movies. I love going to farmer’s markets, they’re my favorite thing in the world. I just think they’re so fun; you get little samples and you can buy flowers and fruit and stuff. And, because I’m from L.A., I spend a lot of time with my family. Luckily I get to see them all the time. I have four younger siblings.
Four! What’s that like?
It’s wonderful. I am the oldest.
How was that growing up?
Both my parents remarried and had more, so three of them are much younger. It was cool to play a kind of different role in their life, being a little bit older than them. I'd be running them to their practices and helping them with their homework and just kind of watching them grow up.
Do you think that being the oldest child has had an effect on you as an adult?
Yeah, I feel a lot of pressure. I don’t want to let them down. When I’m with them, I am reminded of what I want to do and what I want to show them and everything like that. It’s nice; when you have someone looking up to you, they think everything you do is so cool.
So who is your biggest role model?
Definitely my mom. She's just the most incredible woman ever. She was a super savvy businesswoman. No one in my family is really in the industry either so I’m sort of forging the way. My mom just accomplished so much at such a young age and taught us so much and shared so much with us.
If you could go back in time and be in any movie ever, what would it be and why?
I wish I could be in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Mary Louise Parker played Harper. She was incredible and I just love that role. I remember watching that and just thinking she’s just such an incredible actor.
Speaking of role models, you broke out on the ABC Family show Twisted. Because you have a lot of teenage fans, what kind of advice would you give to your teenage self?
I would say don’t get too caught up in what everybody else thinks. I tend to obsess over things like that, but then at the end of the day, nobody’s really thinking about you. Everyone’s just sort of thinking about themselves. So let it go.
Rachel Sheldon is a contributing writer.