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.
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