22 April, 2015
If there were any question as to whether the actress Elizabeth Olsen remains in the shadow of her older sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley, her role in the new Avengers film should put paid to that notion once and for all. “To be part of a movie that’s as universal as Avengers is incredible,” she says when we meet at Café Gratitude in West Hollywood, a celebrity-favourite vegan haunt where the walls are decorated with vacuously upbeat LA phrases such as “I adore myself and everyone else” and “I know I am divine”.
Petite and pretty, Olsen is instantly recognisable when she arrives, wearing gym clothes – an exercise top, leggings and black trainers – with her blond hair scraped back into a messy ponytail and a chic bag from The Row, one of her sisters’ fashion labels, over her shoulder.
Down-to-earth and self-deprecating, she is seen as the most “normal” of the Olsen sisters, apparently unscathed by the media circus that has surrounded her family since Mary-Kate and Ashley made their acting debut, aged only nine months, on the American sitcom Full House. “It’s just crazy,” says Olsen, 26, who is three years younger than them. “They’ve never had a year off work their whole lives.”
In recent years the twins have distanced themselves from the film industry, focusing on their work as fashion designers. “They’re amazing, diligent, kind, beautiful, hard-working women who have tons of responsibility and are great at what they do,” Olsen says.
In the meantime Elizabeth – or Lizzie, as she is known – has gently manoeuvred herself into the limelight. In 2011 she caused a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival with her beautifully nuanced performances in two independent films: Silent House, an American remake of a Uruguayan horror film; and the critically acclaimed drama Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which she played a girl who escapes a dangerous cult.
Since then she has delivered equally deft performances in several less memorable movies (Liberal Arts and Red Lights, for example), but she reached a much wider audience with last year’s Godzilla remake, in which she played a young nurse and mother married to a military bomb-disposal expert, the film’s hero, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. She reunites with Taylor-Johnson in Avengers: Age of Ultron, this time taking the role of his twin sister, Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, while he plays the superhero Quicksilver, also known as Pietro Maximoff.
Read On →