2011 was a triumphant year for Elizabeth Olsen and 2012 is poised to be even bigger. Her debut film Martha Marcy May Marlene showed her talents in a big way, immediately distinguishing Olsen from her sisters Mary Kate and Ashley. She was nominated for many awards for her portrayal of an escaped cult member.
Her first film of 2012 is the horror thriller Silent House. Filmed seemingly in a single 88 minute take, the camera stays on Olsen as she hides and runs from people invading her remote home. Olsen reflected on her introduction to Hollywood and the world with a cool poise showing she knows exactly how to handle herself in this business.
Q: How did you summon and maintain the emotional intensity for the duration you need to?
EO: Well, eventually it became a muscle. I actually, it became detrimental in my personal life because I remember having a meeting with someone at NYU. They weren’t understanding. I took the semester off but then they told me that I didn’t have my papers in on time but I did and this is such a personal story, but anyway. I did have my papers in on time. My advisor didn’t file them when they were supposed to be so it was documented that I didn’t have my papers in on time. So they expected me to pay for 40% of my semester. And I was just like, “Wait, but I filled out paperwork before. I don’t understand.” And I was having this conversation with this woman, eventually it all got cleared up, but I’m sitting there and immediately tears come down my face. I’m like, “I’m so sorry. I don’t usually, I’m really good, I can’t believe I’m crying right now.” It was because my body was literally pushed so many times and there are so many easy buttons to get me emotional. I was so mortified that I’m dealing with something business/work oriented and I just made it so personal really fast. So it became this automatic muscle and I think I have snot come before tears so I got a sinus infection at the end of filming. But you just play with your imagination.
Q: Did you also want to layer in without telegraphing her secrets that are revealed throughout the film?
EO: Yeah, there are a few moments that I specifically chose that I don't think anyone else would notice, maybe unless they saw the movie a few times. But there are those moments that I personally thought this girl’s living in the present moment and right now she’s just scared of this thing that she thinks is after her and she’s unaware of what’s going to happen. A lot of times I didn’t need it but then there are some moments, like just for instance, I don't know, just some moments that you kinda just wanna make a moment of her clearly kind of being dazed somewhere else and then coming back to the present.
Q: Did you talk about it specifically with the directors?
EO: We didn’t talk about it. That’s just what I chose to do. I mean, to tell you the truth, we really were focused on everything technically so everything else you just tried to make it work.
Q: Has your family seen the movie?
EO: No, I saw a screening of it with my best friend Clay and we saw it but that’s it.
Q: So dad hasn’t seen it?
EO: Dad hasn’t seen it. Dad will see it. Mom, I don’t want her, my mom’s terrified of scary movies but she’ll probably see it just ‘cause she loves me. My brother’s a big horror movie fan so he’ll see it. My younger siblings, my sisters probably will see it, my younger siblings have yet to be allowed to see a movie I’m in.
Q: Does that inform your future choices?
EO: Yeah, exactly. I’m like, “I just want Cory to see me in something.”
Q: How was the Vanity Fair party?
EO: It was fun. I was with my best friend Clay and we just would move from different groups of people. I knew some people there and so you talk with those people and then they’re going somewhere else so then you’re like wander over and you’re like, “Now I don’t know what to do. I’m just kind of standing here with my best friend and we could be doing this somewhere else but we’re just walking.” Then you run into someone you know or a friend of someone you know. It was definitely interesting. Everything’s a first right now so I’m just kind of like going with it and accepting that just be happy and wear a smile and be thankful that you get to be here and be gracious.
Q: Does anyone make you starstruck?
EO: Tom Colicchio. Oh no, Catherine O’Hara. I literally had the biggest moment in front of Catherine O’Hara, because my best friend Clay the week before, she thinks we’re crazy. She probably thinks we’re on Glee. I don't think she knows. She had no idea who I was and it was so embarrassing. The week before, my friend Clay goes, “If we see Catherine O’Hara, I’m going to die.” And we’re like, “Why would we see Catherine? Like that’d be cool but we probably won’t get to see her.” She just is right there and we go, like at the same time, we both open our eyes and cover our mouth and she’s just like, “How.” And we’re like, “No, no, no, we’re like the biggest fans. Like we have senses of humor because of you. Like we love you. We’ve been quoting you since we were in elementary school.” And she was like, “Okay. Okay. Nice kids.” She thought we were crazy. We were like, “No, we’re serious.” She’s like, “Okay.” It was such a weird moment.