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Why You Rarely Hear About The Olsen Twins Anymore

If you came of age in the 1990s and early 2000s, you were likely familiar with the work of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who were two of the biggest stars of their era thanks to their huge movie career, their shared sitcom roots, and their media empire catering to teenage girls. Born and raised in Sherman Oaks, California, the Olsen twins became hugely famous at an extremely young age thanks to their shared role on Full House, and their collective star only rose from there. Before long, they were appearing in movies together as the Olsen twins.

However, for the past couple of years, the Olsens' acting careers have been mostly dormant; they haven't made any movies together in quite some time. If you've been wondering where two of the most famous sisters in the world have been since they stopped making movies together, you're probably not alone. Here's why you don't hear very much about the Olsen twins anymore, and what they've been up to since they stepped back from the silver screen.

The Olsen twins started acting at a super young age

If you grew up watching Full House — in which John Stamos, Dave Coulier, and Bob Saget play three middle-aged men raising a house full of girls — you're definitely familiar with the Olsen twins' first big role, but you might not realize just how young they were when they got started. After both Mary-Kate and Ashley were jointly cast to play the family's most adorable member, Michelle, at just six months old, they became stars thanks to the show's enduring popularity and overwhelming affection for the character.

However, since the twins started so young, they didn't really get to choose their careers. Full House was a great opportunity for Mary-Kate and Ashley, but it makes sense that they eventually retired after a pretty illustrious turn as child actors in favor of other pursuits. 

The Olsens made their fortune early in their shared career

Whether or not Mary-Kate and Ashley got the chance to choose their childhood profession, there's no denying that their tenure as actresses was insanely lucrative. After they got older, Mary-Kate and Ashley launched Dualstar Entertainment, spawning a fan club that served as a subscription site and as the backbone to the twins' growing media empire.

In 2007, the Olsens even joined powerhouses like talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on the Forbes ranking of the wealthiest women in entertainment, with the publication estimating their net wealth at $100 million and noting that Dualstar sold "$1 billion worth of merchandise worldwide in a year–everything from videos to hair-care products." At the time, the twins were just 20 years old. Making their fortune at a seriously young age enabled them to step out of the limelight fairly early.

Mary-Kate and Ashley made a crazy amount of movies in a short amount of time

It might seem a little crazy that Mary-Kate and Ashley were raking in literal billions before they could legally drink, but when you consider just how hard the twins worked throughout their acting career, you'll understand why. After Full House, the two embarked on a series of features, television films, and direct-to-video releases throughout the 1990s, including 1995's It Takes Two, 1998's Billboard Dad, 1999's Passport to Paris, 2000's Our Lips Are Sealed, 2001's Winning London, and 2002's When in Rome. All told, the twins appeared in 27 projects after Full House between 1992 and 2004.

However, 2004 brought an end to their acting careers with New York Minute, their second theatrical release after It Takes Two. The movie's cast featured Eugene Levy, Jared Padalecki, Andy Richter, Andrea Martin, and the twins' Full House co-star Bob Saget. Ultimately, the film performed poorly critically and commercially — literally one of the lowest openings of all time — which wasn't exactly an auspicious conclusion to the girls' acting career.

Fuller House was never in the cards for the Olsen twins

Reboots have been all the rage recently, and Full House is no exception. It got revived as Fuller House on Netflix, airing five seasons from 2016 to 2020 on the popular streaming service. Though several of the series' original stars — including Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, and Andrea Barber, as well as Saget, Coulier, and Stamos in recurring roles — returned to the San Francisco townhouse, the Olsen twins were noticeably absent. The series explained the nonappearance by saying that Michelle was "busy running her fashion empire in New York."

As executive producer Bob Boyett told People, however, the twins were very direct about why they chose not to return to Fuller House. "Ashley said, 'I have not been in front of a camera since I was 17, and I don't feel comfortable acting,'" Boyett told the outlet. "Mary-Kate said, 'It would have to be me because Ash doesn't want to do it. But the timing is so bad for us.'" Ultimately, the Olsen twins stayed away from the project, choosing to pursue other passions instead.

The Olsen twins were seriously objectified by men and the media at a young age

The Olsens were two of the most famous young women in the world throughout their childhood and adolescence. However, it should come as no surprise that this fame came with some serious drawbacks — specifically, some very gross objectification.

In June of 2019, writer Yomi Adegoke penned a piece about men in dark corners of the internet who "count down" until young women turn 18 and become "legal," mentioning the Olsen twins as an example. As Adegoke wrote, Mary-Kate and Ashley had grown up on camera, from their casting in Full House at just six months old onward. Adegoke writes, "Men patiently waiting until they hit puberty, and their fantasies made the switch from perverse to pedestrian, made me feel queasy..." 

Adegoke spends the rest of her essay detailing the seriously damaging implications of this upsetting trend, which was potentially harmful to the Olsens and may have played a role in their decision to leave acting.

The Olsen twins have become fashion icons

In the years since New York Minute flopped at the box office, the Olsens have found solace and success in an entirely new venture in the world of high fashion. In 2006, the twins launched The Row, named for the high-end London thoroughfare Savile Row. The brand was the result of Ashley's goal to create the perfect white t-shirt. However, the two preferred to let the clothes speak for themselves, and didn't even do a public interview about The Row for several years after its debut.

The Row — which the Olsens still own and manage alongside lines like Elizabeth & James, a concept named for their siblings — has won several awards. It even took home the highest honor of the Council of the Fashion Designers of America (of which the Olsens are members), the Womenswear Designer of the Year Award, two years in a row. In 2018, the Olsens announced that the Row would launch a menswear line, complete with knits, suits, and denim. Why return to acting when you've got a successful fashion collection? 

Mary-Kate Olsen has a pretty interesting hobby

In the absence of their acting career, both Mary-Kate and Ashley have been pretty focused on becoming fashion mavens. However, throughout the years, Mary-Kate has struck out on her own to debut a talent that she doesn't seem to share with her twin: horseback riding.

According to PopSugar, Mary-Kate was spotted in September of 2016 competing in the annual American Gold Cup, which is held at the Old Salem Farm in New York. PopSugar reported that Mary-Kate rode three different horses during the event, which is considered one of the most renowned show jumping events in the world. By that point, Mary-Kate had been riding horses competitively for three years and had been photographed riding recreationally in locales like the Hamptons. It seems like this hobby holds more interest for Mary-Kate than acting, and she's clearly talented if she made it into this famous event. 

One Olsen kept acting after her sister quit the business

Though it might seem like the Olsens do just about everything together, you might not realize that after one twin stopped acting entirely, the other stayed on screen for just a little while longer. After Ashley stopped acting, Mary-Kate continued, appearing in shows like Weeds and the critically panned 2011 film Beastly, among other projects.

However, in 2012, the twins told Elle UK (as reported by The Huffington Post) that they were out of the game for good. As Mary-Kate told the magazine, it "just felt right to move away [from the spotlight]." Meanwhile, Ashley said, "I don't have to be a pretty face. I've done that, but now it's important and liberating to be on the other side of the lens. I don't like to be the center of attention anymore." She added that she's still interested in Hollywood, but that "if [she] ever get[s] back in, it's not going to be as an actress." 

The two clearly found their bliss elsewhere — and with each other. "Nothing would ever split us up," Mary-Kate told Elle. "Separate side projects are one thing, but we work better as a team."

Mary-Kate Olsen married into a high-profile political family

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen certainly tried to leave the spotlight behind when they quit acting, but the media still focused extensively on their personal lives and exploits, especially when Mary-Kate wed the half-sibling of a former European president. After beginning their relationship in 2012, Mary-Kate and Olivier Sarkozy — the half-brother of former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy — announced their engagement in 2014 and tied the knot in 2015, holding a super-private party in New York City (despite the wedding's ban on cellphones and the press, reporters still managed to learn that bowls of cigarettes were used as the event's decor). 

However, the union broke down by 2020, and in the spring of that year — during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — Mary-Kate filed for an emergency divorce from her French husband to move the court proceedings along as quickly as possible. Ultimately, a judge denied the request. The divorce was later finalized in January of 2021 over Zoom, thanks to the ongoing global health crisis.

Their sister, Elizabeth, has carried on the acting tradition

If you're still missing the Olsen twins, rest easy: one of their younger siblings has proven more than capable of filling their shoes. Born three years after her sisters, Elizabeth Olsen attended New York University, studying at the Tisch School of Acting. Though she had appeared in some of her sisters' projects — and even considered quitting acting after watching them face brutal public scrutiny — she didn't really break onto the scene in her own right until 2011, when she led the indie film Martha Marcy May Marlene. From there, the youngest Olsen became a star all on her own, appearing in films like 2012's Liberal Arts, the 2013 American remake of South Korean flick Oldboy, and 2014's Godzilla adaptation.

However, you probably know Elizabeth Olsen best thanks to her ongoing role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In a post-credits scene in 2015's Captain America: The Winter Soldier and then in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, she joined the expanding cast of superheroes as Wanda Maximoff, who initially opposes the Avengers before joining their ranks. The younger Olsen went on to appear in supporting roles in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, and 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Most recently, she helmed the first big MCU television venture on Disney+, 2021's ambitious WandaVision.