The college senior makes her feature film debut Friday as the title character in the psychological thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene, and she’s already garnering awards buzz.
It’s something the younger sister to Mary-Kate and Ashley has always dreamed about. She just expected it would be much further in the future.
Winning an award for acting is “something that I practiced in my mirror when I was 12, thinking about when I’m 40. Not 22,” Olsen says. “I’ve never won anything in my life, except for an academic award in high school.”
There’s talk of a best-actress Oscar nomination. Tom O’Neil, editor of GoldDerby.com, says “she’s seriously in the running. … She gives a surprisingly sensitive and dynamic performance in this movie. The surprise is she shows such restraint. A lot of her emoting is internal, and we get to see it through her frightened eyes.”
Tim Appelo, a film reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, says he “would not put her as a front-runner, but I would rate her as one of the major threats. … This girl arrived like Cinderella on a rocket sled.”
Bring up the topic with the young actress, and she erupts into a fit of giggles. “It’s pretty weird! It’s my first movie coming out, it’s so weird!” Still, she acknowledges that it’s “incredibly cool, and exciting, and flattering, and it’s a huge compliment.
As an Olsen, being in the spotlight is something that comes with the territory. Take one look at Elizabeth, and the family resemblance is clear.
On a rainy afternoon last month, Elizabeth Olsen apologized profusely for pushing back by more than an hour a luncheon interview at a restaurant in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I really hate being late.” The 22-year-old actress — she’s the younger sister of the child stars turned clothing designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — had the most fashionable of excuses for the delay: Karl Lagerfeld. The Chanel designer had been shooting her for a coffee table book, and the photo session had gone long. She modeled an oversize classic Chanel tweed jacket for him. “I didn’t get to keep it,” she said, laughing as she pointed to her own nondescript sweater and T-shirt.
She may have been tardy for the interview, but Ms. Olsen, nicknamed Lizzie, is running way ahead of schedule on her career. She has starred in five movies, all independent films, in little more than a year, with the first release, “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” due on Friday. It is an unsettling psychological drama in which Ms. Olsen plays the tricky role of an emotionally troubled young woman who, after a sojourn as a cult member on a remote farm in the Catskills, takes refuge with her older sister and brother-in-law at their upscale, lakeside vacation house.
Traumatized by chilling memories from her past and ill at ease in her present, Martha is a woman on the verge, unable to distinguish between what is real and what is in her head, and equally unable to behave appropriately. She crawls into bed with her sister and brother-in-law while they’re making love and skinny-dips in the lake in broad daylight, seemingly unable to comprehend why either action would cause offense.
The movie was a standout at last winter’s Sundance Film Festival, and Ms. Olsen, who also starred in a second film at the festival, “Silent House” (an art-house horror film scheduled for 2012), impressed critics and industry insiders alike, and was quickly tagged the “it girl” of the festival.
Elizabeth Olsen recently experienced something that had never happened to her: She was recognized by a stranger.
“It was really weird. I was walking in Tribeca and a guy just came up to me and said, ‘I just saw the trailer for your movie, and I’m really looking forward to it,’ and then he kept on walking,” the young actress recalled.
Then she added uncertainly, “I hope he wasn’t confusing me with someone else.”
That she would find this exchange exciting might seem, well, really weird in its own right. Olsen is the younger sister of those Olsens, the tabloid fixtures Mary-Kate and Ashley. She’s spent a lifetime watching her sisters hounded by TMZ, pursued by autograph-seekers, roasted by late-night hosts. But she’s avoided the limelight.
Walking around Greenwich Village, the outgoing 22-year-old might as well be just another NYU acting student, albeit one who happens to have spent parts of the past year shooting films. She has some of the same facial features as her famous sisters, but like so much in her life to this point, nothing about her suggests that she’s related to the entertainment world’s most famous twins.
“‘You mean, there’s another one?'” actress Sarah Paulson said, laughing, as she recalled her reaction upon hearing about the third Olsen sister for the first time, before the pair began shooting their movie “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” “Where have they been hiding her?”
With her starring turn in Sean Durkin’s challenging indie, Olsen’s anonymity won’t last much longer. Anchoring a drama that has drawn acclaim at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, Olsen plays Martha — the other monikers are given to her by John Hawkes’ rough-hewn cult leader, Patrick — a complex, vulnerable young woman grappling with a traumatic past. She delivers a remarkable performance, the sort that gets your attention for a lot more than her last name.
Okay so I’m a bit behind on news and pictures, but all will follow tomorrow, so check back tomorrow! 🙂 But today I have added pictures from the ELLE’s 18th Annual Women in Hollywood Tribute which was held yesterday, October 17th. Lizzie looked beautiful attending the event! Be sure to check out the pictures!
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