Elizabeth ‘I’m nothing like my sisters’
She might have the whole of Hollywood at her feet, but style icon Elizabeth Olsen is still battling the same issues as the rest of usé
As stylish redcarpet ladies go, Elizabeth Olsen is right up there. Not only is the 28-year-old actress storming through Hollywood with roles in the likes of Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers, she’s also been lauded for her smaller parts in flicks like Very Good Girls (see it) and thriller Wind River (where she plays a tough FBI Agent). There are whispers about award nods for her role in upcoming film Ingrid Goes West, where she plays a social-media stalker who integrates herself into the life of an Instagram star. #Millennial.
Elizabeth is polished and precise. Offering considered replies, her reserve comes from a lifetime of experience watching her mogul twin sisters, Mary-kate and Ashley, navigate the choppy waters of superstardom. Said siblings are pretty much off-topic today – a standard request when talking to the star – who, by now, has probably overshadowed their notoriety anyway.
Here, she tells us what it’s really like to have grown up in the spotlight…
Hi Elizabeth, you recently played an FBI agent, what was that like? I like the fact that the character was written without any stereotypes. She’s there to do her job. She’s the kind of selfconfident woman that doesn’t care what other people think. As a woman working in a pretty male-dominated profession, she’s learnt to handle herself and deal with the usual boys’ club mentality that a lot of women face in the workplace. Wind River must have felt like a return to your indie-film roots, after working on blockbusters like Captain America… Several years ago, I saw that even if you’re part of good films, you still won’t find a lot of work unless you have the recognition that comes from doing bigger movies. Now that I’ve done some big studio films, it’s given me the kind of visibility that will help me do films like Wind River and Ingrid Goes West, which is a black comedy. I’ve seen what a big difference it makes when you’re going to auditions or meeting with directors. A lot of doors are opening up, and I’m looking forward to being able to do the big movies and the smaller, passion projects. Your approach to fame is very different to your older sisters’… I would rather live as privately and quietly as possible. That’s why I’m not big on social media, because I’d rather save my thoughts and opinions for my friends over dinner. I like being able to have a career where I’m seen as an actor, rather than a celebrity. I was never the kind of girl who wanted to dress up, and I’m still a bit shy of going out on the red carpet. My sisters are amazing – they are incredibly talented fashion designers and great at business. But I wouldn’t want to live with all the attention that they’ve had to endure. My life is much easier. Did you always want to act? I started taking acting classes when I was eight, but my parents always told me that I should only pursue acting if I really wanted it. They encouraged all of us to follow our inspirations and dreams, but I never felt pressured in any way. The thing that they insisted on was that if we did choose to do something, then it was important to work hard at it. If you want to succeed at something, you need to have that kind of ambition and determination. It won’t just fall into your lap. Were you a natural performer? I was always performing, putting on little musicals, singing and dancing. I went to musical theatre camp, made short movies with my friends. But I didn’t want to be an actress – especially because I grew up in LA. Very cliché! Plus, I liked chemistry and the periodic table. I liked learning, and acting, to me, didn’t follow that path of learning. Most of young Hollywood seems to be in a squad, but not you – why? Most of my friends are the same friends I’ve had forever. I don’t know how famous relationships develop, because the nature of the business [means you are] always in transit from one place to the other. I don’t get it. Everybody has weird schedules. Maybe it’s me. [Laughs.] You’ve played a lot of strong women – is that what you look for? I’m not looking for roles that are just badass women. That term is thrown around way too much. I look for the emotionally powerful individuals struggling with adversity, with internal conflicts, who have to prove themselves. I like damaged characters – I think I seek out damaged characters the most. Or, at least, that’s what I’m sent the most. [Laughs.] Ingrid Goes West is a very different role for you. You mentioned your dislike for social media, and now you’re on Instagram. Did you sign up just for the film? It’s a big step for me. [Laughs.] I set up a fake Instagram account for the character, Taylor Sloane. Before, I found the whole thing really strange. You know, I also don’t know how these photos always look so beautiful. Mine do not look like that at all! My attempts at selfies are always tragic. [Laughs.] But I also think I overthought Instagram intensely, because that’s me, I’m a total overthinker. I like being able to control the message I put out there, which is the first time I’ve ever had that.
Ingrid Goes West is in cinemas from 7 October
I didn’t want to be an actress when I was younger – it’s very cliché when you grew up in LA
With her older (smaller) sisters, Mary-kate and Ashley
In Wind River with co-star Jeremy Renner