Elizabeth Olsen Interview – Godzilla
In New York to promote Godzilla, Elizabeth Olsen, 25, is the younger sister of the famous twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, former actresses and now fashion designers.
Wearing a black long-sleeved shirt by The Row (one of her sisters’ designer labels), skinny jeans and high heels, Olsen looks like a chic and sophisticated young woman. She’s naturally pretty, wears very little makeup, she’s intelligent and doesn’t appear to be media-trained like many of her peers.
She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Atlantic Theatre Company. Her sisters’ clothing line, Elizabeth and James, was named after her and her older brother. She is best known for the movie Martha Marcy May Marlene, and also starred in silent House, and Liberal Arts. She will next be seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
She has been dating fellow actor Boyd Holbrook since 2012 after meeting on the film Very Good girls. In March this year they became engaged.
Q: What is the meaning of Godzilla in your world? Is it good or bad?
Yeah. Well I think that has been the role that Godzilla has played throughout films is the dichotomy between hero and villain and it’s the same way with nature. Nature is the dichotomy of the worst disaster or the greatest beauty. And I think Godzilla in this film represents negligence of humanity and the obsession to control something that is out of our control.
Q: Are you engaged in any environmental issues?
I think about what I can do as one human being. I live in New York City, so it’s not like I can have a compost. That would be rude to all the people around me. (laughs) But I do think about what I can do.
Q: Your new campaign with Miu Miu is amazing.
Q: I really like the pictures. Do you like to express yourself through fashion? What does it mean to you?
I do, but I don’t think I do it consciously. I think I have enjoyed dressing based on whatever I am going through. I dressed like a boy for the better half of my childhood and I think that’s because I wanted to be one. So I guess I have throughout my whole life.
Q: Do you wear your sisters’ designs?
Yeah, I am right now. (laughs) I prefer it actually. I wish I could wear them all the time.
Q: Are you interested in going into that area as well?
No, it’s just not my thing. I just really want a garden and if there’s one thing I want to create, it’s like a vegetable garden. But I live in New York City. (laughs)
Q: On the roof?
There’s not one. There’s no roof. (laughter) I am not around long enough to actually maintain one, but that’s like a dream. And to have chickens.
Q: Are your sisters interested in going back into acting at all?
I don’t know, I think that’s for them to answer. I don’t know.
Q: Are you still close with them?
Yeah, we are all very close in my family. Very supportive and it’s always fun to catch up and see what everyone’s doing.
Q: Did they teach you how to survive in this industry?
I mean, it’s not a topic at dinner usually. (laughter)
Q: But you look up to them?
Oh yeah, I find them inspiring and grounded and some of the hardest working people I know.
Q: Do you think your big sisters are protective of you?
Sure, yeah. I mean, I hope all families are protective over their family.
Q: You have got a couple of projects with Aaron Taylor Johnson now. You’re at the same place as he is in a way. He’s one of your peers.
Yeah, I know what you are talking about but I don’t feel like I am there, but I know that Aaron and I are working together. But I also feel so far out of whatever social things happen in the film industry. I am not ever around parties and things like that. (laughs) But I know what you mean about my peers and stuff. Aaron and I are doing the Avengers movie and this, but that’s really it. It’s nice to have one film behind us, going in to play brother and sister as well as a married couple in this one is funny.
Q: Can you say anything about The Avengers or is it top secret?
I am kind of scared of saying anything. Everything is very top secret over there; it’s like working for the CIA. (Laughter)
Q: What drew you to that character, to be a superhero?
Well, to be a superhero, when you are a kid who watches Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings, you want to be in that fantasy world. I love make believe, and getting to read the comics. My character is incredible and absolutely out of her mind. And incredibly passionate and thinks she’s in control more than she actually is. She’s stubborn and an epic woman who has not been created by a human yet. So it’s really fun to be a part of that and try and honour fans.
Q: Who made you want to be an actress?
Well, it’s somewhere between like Frank Sinatra and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Q: Frank Sinatra?
Yeah, I grew up with musicals. I wanted to go to Broadway and be a musical theatre actress. But then I learned I wasn’t the best singer as I got older. And yeah, Michelle Pfeiffer was my Justin Bieber growing up. (laughter)
Q: What is your favorite movie from Michelle Pfeiffer?
Well, when I fell in love with her, it was a combination of Catwoman and Grease 2. Then I became obsessed with her and any film she was in I would see growing up. White Oleander, and Scarface obviously, she was so sassy, but she really could do anything. She couldn’t help but be sexy. I don’t know, I was just so drawn to her and I Am Sam, everything.
Q: I imagine in the Avengers movie you’re probably wearing some kind of unforgiving outfit. Did you have to work out a lot?
I always like working out. I guess I grew up being an athlete. I am not obsessive with anything really, but I am a witch, so I get to use energy fields. But that’s it. (laughs)
Q: Godzilla marks the first time you’ve played a mother, is that right?
Yeah that was one of my favourite aspects of getting to do this was knowing that I was going to get to work with a kid, and playing a young mum.
Q: Did it bring out any maternal instincts in you?
Yeah. I never really had maternal instincts growing up. I am not the person who like sees a pregnant belly and wants to touch it (laughter) or a baby and wants to touch it, but I really loved spending time with Carson, who was four years old at the time. We just played a lot when we first met, and he and his mum and would just hang out all the time. I still text his mother. He’s so excited to go to the premiere, and it was really interesting just to work with a child, you have to stay on your toes. It keeps you alive and engaged the whole time.
Q: What inspires you besides making movies? How do you repower when you are not making movies?
A lot of home things.
Q: For example?
Well for example, it’s just a lot of thinking about wanting to be Martha Stewart, (laughter) and I am a big cook…
Q: Maybe you should hang out with or marry a chef?
Well no, I don’t think that’s in the cards for me anymore. But no, I love cooking.
Q: What’s your favorite dish?
You know what? I made Ceviche the other night for the first time, and it was delicious. And I just winged it and it was amazing. But entertaining is really enjoyable for me and I am starting to enjoy traveling which used to only be for work. I just went to Nicaragua and got to volunteer while I was there and that was very restoring and I just got back from that on Sunday, so I feel kind of eased into doing all this.
Q: You did that by yourself?
No I did that with a friend of mine.
Q: What aspect of your personality has helped you in your life and what has hindered you maybe?
My sense of humour probably.
Q: Has helped you?
And failed me. (laughter) I take things seriously to a degree, to a point, and sometimes not so seriously and then I wind up looking at magazine I spoke to and being like, ‘I didn’t really say that. Did I? (laughter) I was joking!’ So probably that.
Q: You are going against Star Wars next year.
I guess so. I can’t wait to see it. What a cast. I am so excited. (laughs)
Q: But you also like to read books, so what book is on your nightstand?
Hmm, let’s see, I guess the last book I read was Room by Emily Donahue, it’s like a really screwed up story from a little boy’s point of view and he lives in an eleven by eleven foot room and it ends up being that the mother was captured and he was born out of a rape basically. It’s a beautiful story, kind of fantastic. But if there is a book that I would love to make a film, it would be Rebecca, even though that’s already happened before. I love that book.
Q: How did your brother react when you said that you would be The Scarlet Witch in Avengers? Did he freak out?
Yeah, my brother is like a 30 year old, huge nerd. (laughter) My brother goes to Comic-Con in every city, because he works for a comic book. (laughter) So yeah. (laughter) He was actually at Comic-Con when we were there with Godzilla and he was in line with his poster that he bought instead of the poster they were giving. Yeah, he’s like the best nerd ever.
Q: Do you have a motto or philosophy you live by?
I don’t know. It’s like somewhere between always trying to beat your own last best score instead of trying to compete with the other people around you. There’s something about this job that makes you get caught up in things that you really don’t need to get caught up in that kind of noise and those opinions.
Q: So do you avoid blogs and stuff like that?
I try to. I think it’s always impossible not to in the beginning, because it’s a new experience. And then the best thing is when you are so busy caught up in life that you wouldn’t even think twice about it. One of my best friends works at Bad Robots, so she’s always on blogs, so if something is about a film that she thinks is funny or cool or a fanbase, she will send it to me and I will see it for the first time.
Q: When was the last time you Googled yourself?
God, I don’t know. Not that long ago. I mean it’s really weird, people talking about you and I think it was probably…. I wanted to see some responses from the teaser, from Captain America 2, for Avengers, and it was all like largely positive reactions which is really cool.
Q: Right now you are in South Africa or in the US?
I will be living in London for the majority of summer.
Q: Thank you.