Elizabeth Olsen covers her eyes. ‘I can’t look at the screen. My apologies.” The cause of the actor’s dismay, as you might think, is not my face, but hers. It’s halfway through our interview and I’ve turned off my laptop’s camera to avoid internet problems, leaving Olsen alone. and staring at herself. She spends the rest of the conversation with her eyes modestly turned to the right. “We should have caught up in person,” she says.
This is not the behavior you would expect from an affordable Hollywood star of miracle movies – and someone who comes from an acting dynasty. Her siblings are Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, stars of tween movies and fashion lines. The younger sister Elizabeth has been acting since she was four, but she didn’t appear in her first film until she was 21. Rather than follow the twins’ path, she swung between smaller indie films and blockbusters, including Gareth Edwards’s. godzilla (2014) and several Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.
Each role was very different from the last – a feisty drama student in cozy comedy Liberal arts (2012), a narcissistic social media influencer in 2017 Instagram satire Ingrid goes westand a timid novice FBI agent in a violent murder mystery Wind River in the same year.
But it is for her character in the Marvel universe that she has become most famous. She played the eternally unlucky witch Wanda Maximoff in 2015 avengers follow-up Age of Ultronbefore returning in three more MCU movies – Captain America: Civil War† Avengers: Infinity Warand Avengers: Endgame† Then Wanda proved so popular that she got her own TV show, WandaVision†
In the span of nine inventive episodes, Olsen became a Marvel favorite thanks to her ability to transition fluidly from comedy to emotion with a flick of the wand. She shows that in our conversation, by discussing sensitive topics, including the way the media treats her sisters, while playfully responding to the persistent mailman who doesn’t stop knocking at my door. “Bye!” she yells after letting me know through my letterbox that he’s leaving my package on the curb.
It helped Olsen’s cause that WandaVisionMarvel’s debut on television, was an ambitious project that put time and care into a character who previously made short work of the dominant figures – well, big strongmen – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.
But despite now being a major Marvel player, the 33-year-old says she’s stunned by her burgeoning popularity “in recent years.”
“I’ve only signed up to make a few movies, so it’s going to be a surprise if they want to use me for more projects,” she says, adding, “I’m confused by how lucky I’ve been with them.” That WandaVision†
Olsen was living in Richmond, Virginia, when the show launched in January 2021, during its second closing. It became one of the highest-rated Marvel projects of all time, and the word-of-mouth hysteria surrounding it ensured that the series managed to attract non-fans and diehards alike. However, Olsen says she “completely dissociated” from the rage it caused, and “isn’t really emotionally attached to it.”
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Olsen returns as the character in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which pits her against Benedict Cumberbatch’s super-powered wizard. While she praises the collaborative shooting process, an approach favored by director Sam Raimi, Olsen hinted several times during our conversation that she doesn’t really enjoy talking about the project, despite it being the project she wants here. promote.
“I try to ignore it and not talk about it, but that’s what’s going on,” she says with a friendly grin. “I actually do this where I’m very comfortable and doesn’t take up a lot of space in my head because it’s safer and I don’t feel as vulnerable.”
However, Olsen’s tactics seem to have less to do with concerns about the film’s quality and more to do with its modesty. “When we were working on press for” WandaVisionI was mortified because it was the first show from the Marvel universe. There was a total fear, and now I’ve reconnected this pressure all over again with… Doctor Strange† I just didn’t have it as part of those ensemble films.” Olsen admits this is true even when looking at the finished product. “I’ll see eventually,” she says.
If these nerves are an unsettling trait for someone whose face is currently on posters around the world for a movie that will become one of the highest-grossing hits of the year, don’t show it. Olsen even has the pleasant demeanor of someone who is clearly comfortable with the rules she’s established in her life—both private and professional—one of which is courtesy of her older sisters: “‘No’ is a full sentence.”
This rule has made Olsen feel comfortable turning down certain things that are asked of her. For example, as has been pointed out by her fan base, you won’t be seeing Olsen onstage anytime soon at the Oscars or the Emmys. “I don’t like presenting at award ceremonies. I tried it and I don’t like it. It’s not worth the fainting feeling I get every time. It’s just not worth it.”
Olsen says the way she adopted her sisters’ mantra has changed over the years, and that when she was younger, she used it “more like a young woman who was always ready for some kind of aggressor or something” . She grins as if she’s pulling herself together. “I’ve always been this hard – maybe sometimes with a flaw.” What does she mean by that? “I just think maybe I could’ve massaged things a little differently, or maybe I could’ve had some nuance. But I do think it’s important for a young woman to know, hear, or empower herself.”
Her twin sisters were all the rage in the 1990s, running their own TV shows and movies, until 2012 when they announced plans to retire from acting so they could focus on their fashion careers. Olsen, who is three years her junior, watched as her teenage siblings found themselves at the center of increasing media attention, which caused her to almost give up acting altogether.
“Then I found the media insulting to my sisters,” Olsen told Nylon in 2011. “They would follow us while shopping and [Mary-Kate and Ashley] was almost going to get into car accidents because of the paparazzi, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
Fast forward to 2012. While Olsen was signing autographs for fans, a photographer asked her, “How come you’re so much nicer than your sisters?” In a video that went viral, Olsen could be heard answering more politely than he deserved, “Because you guys have been bothering them all their lives.” It was this adverse treatment of her sisters — and the admirable way they kept themselves under intense exposure — that has since helped shape her own experience when it comes to dealing with the press.
“I think my sisters are some of the most amazing people to watch, with what they’ve created for themselves and how they behave,” says Olsen, showing an air of pride. “I’m really in awe of what they’ve built, and I think it was because they had such a healthy perspective — and I could only take advantage of that healthy perspective. I think it shaped how I behave.”
But for all the wise advice her sisters gave, Olsen wasn’t always so receptive. “They’ve had so much advice for me, but most things when I was younger I didn’t do because I thought” – Olsen takes on a cartoonish voice – “‘I’m going to do it myself! You can’t tell me!’ And then they were right, and in the end I did what they told me to do, but I had to fail first, alone.”
She certainly isn’t failing now. Still, I wonder what anyone thinks of her position about the criticism that Marvel has received in recent years. Most controversially, Martin Scorsese described MCU movies as “closer to theme parks” than cinema, while the godfather director Francis Ford Coppola described them as “prototypes made over and over to look different”. Olsen says she gets frustrated when people “make them look like a lesser form of art.”
“I’m not saying we make indie art movies, but I think it takes away from our crew, which annoys me,” she says. “These are some of the most amazing set designers, costume designers, cameramen – I feel like reducing them with that kind of criticism takes away from all the people who make award-winning films, who also work on these projects.
“From an actor’s point of view, whatever, I get it; I understand very well that there is a different kind of performance taking place. But I think throwing Marvel under the bus takes away the hundreds of very talented crew members. I’m a little hesitant about that.”
As for her MCU future, Olsen is open to possibilities. “I don’t know how big the plans actually are, but I’m ready for anything as long as it has a good idea attached to it,” she says. This includes a possible second standalone series focused on Wanda. Olsen also says she is “curious” about how the X-Men will appear in future films after Disney’s acquisition of Fox. But for Olsen, it’s not about signing up for these projects — it’s getting her to sit down and watch them. “Honestly, the magic of the Marvel movie is lost to me now, which is a shame,” she says. “I have to go get my kicks somewhere else.”
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is now in theaters