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What You Probably Never Knew About Elizabeth Olsen

Her face may be plastered on posters and movie screens around the world these days, but that wasn't always the case for Elizabeth Olsen. Born in 1989 in Los Angeles, California, Olsen is the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the twins who ruled television in the 1990s and early 2000s. Though she had her first on-screen appearance at the age of four, Olsen didn't seriously pursue acting until years later.

Odds are you're most familiar with Olsen from her work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which she first joined in 2015 with "Avengers: Age of Ultron." For many years, Olsen's Wanda Maximoff was an ancillary character among the Avengers, with Olsen never receiving top billing in a Marvel project. That all changed with the release of the Disney+ series "WandaVision" in 2021 when the series earned extensive critical acclaim and earned Olsen an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination. Olsen then reprised her role in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" in 2022, where Wanda appeared as the villain.

Despite her success in the MCU, Olsen has also had the time to star in numerous indie films, such as "Wind River" and "Ingrid Goes West." Though she has only been working in Hollywood for about a decade, Olsen has already carved out a unique career for herself, and we can't imagine it will get any less interesting from here on out. Want to know more? Read on to discover things you probably never knew about Elizabeth Olsen.

Olsen never wanted to be a child actor because of her older sisters

Since her older sisters had been acting since they were infants, Olsen was exposed to the world of movies and television from a very young age. While the world of Hollywood might seem glamorous to some, Olsen quickly realized being a child actor wasn't for her, largely because of the intense scrutiny she witnessed her sisters facing and the fact that it took her away from school and a "normal" life.

As she told Glamour, "I was 10 and I was curious about auditioning... and I realized very quickly it wasn't for me because I was missing my sports teams, my dance class and all the extracurricular activities at school." Even from a young age, Olsen was also very aware of the way she was associated with her sisters and didn't want to be a product of nepotism, even if that word wasn't exactly on her radar at the time. "So I don't know how much I processed," she said, "but I did think, 'I'm going to be Elizabeth Chase [her middle name] when I become an actress.'"

Olsen followed through on the decision she made at a young age and decided not to pursue acting professionally until she began school at NYU. And, as we all know, Olsen decided to use her full name, after all. Apparently, Olsen needn't have worried about making her own way -– BuzzFeed observes that many people didn't know she was related to Mary-Kate and Ashley until recently.

She was once the understudy in a play but never got to perform

When she was a college student, Olsen worked in theater, acting as an understudy for various plays. Speaking with Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times, Olsen recalled how strange and disheartening the experience of being an understudy could be. She was once an understudy in a play called "Impressionism," which starred Jeremy Irons. The show ran for 56 performances, but Olsen never got to take the stage.

Olsen has frequently spoken about her love of being part of a team or an ensemble –- something she got to do a lot as part of her role in the MCU -– so experiences like this didn't put a damper on her love for the craft. In fact, she learned an important lesson from the experience. Olsen describes Irons' process during the play's run, noting that he didn't learn his lines fully until opening night. "Even through previews, he would muck around in front of the audience, exit the stage to peruse his pages, then come back on to muck some more," Buchanan relays.

This got Olsen thinking -– maybe acting didn't have to be all about planning and extensive preparation, after all. "Maybe you could embrace it as a fluid thing with an unknown destination," Buchanan writes. This lesson has served Olsen well, as the unexpected trajectory of her career only happened because she was willing to see where each new opportunity took her without overthinking it.

Olsen considered working on Wall Street at one point

Though she had been working in theater while attending the Tisch School of the Arts, Olsen still wasn't sure she wanted to pursue acting as a career upon graduating. Though she knew she was drawn to the profession, she was hesitant to commit. "I thought I was going to be on Wall Street," she told Glamour. "I don't know what I wanted, I was just good at math. And I'm good at sciences so [I thought] maybe I should do something like that. But at the end of the day, I really love acting."

After dabbling in the theater world, she initially began her career starring in indies like "Liberal Arts" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene." She eventually broke into the blockbuster lane when she starred in 2014's "Godzilla," a role that would lead to "Avengers: Age of Ultron" the following year. We shudder to think of a world without Olsen gracing us with her talent –- that's an endgame we don't even want to consider.

Olsen has had to turn down roles due to her commitment to the MCU

Olsen talks about the experience of playing Wanda in glowing terms, but being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a big commitment for any actor to make. Being part of the MCU is time-consuming -– there are so many moving parts -– and Olsen found herself missing out at times. "It took me away from the physical ability to do certain jobs that I thought were more aligned with the things I enjoyed as an audience member," Olsen told The New York Times. "And this is me being the most honest."

While she initially joined the MCU and starred in "Godzilla" in order to avoid being typecast as the "indie girl," she found that this typecasting went the other way, too. "I started to feel frustrated," she said. "I had this job security but I was losing these pieces that I felt were more part of my being. And the further I got away from that, the less I became considered for it."

There were specific opportunities Olsen lost out on because of her commitment to the MCU. For example, she had to turn down a lead role in Yorgos Lanthimos' film "The Lobster," a project that certainly would have taken her career in a new direction. It's hard to say what roles Olsen will be offered in the future, but we hope she will have time to pursue them all.

Her sisters gave her a great piece of life advice about saying no

Though having older sisters who were thrust into the limelight at a young age may have dissuaded Olsen from engaging with Hollywood for years, her sisters gave her some advice that would be very important as she started her career. Mary-Kate and Ashley had a difficult time growing up in the spotlight -– they were constantly hounded by paparazzi –- and they eventually pivoted from acting and started their own fashion brand. In 2012, Olsen famously replied to a photographer asking, "How come you're so much nicer than your sisters?" by pointing out, "You guys have been bothering them their whole lives."

Speaking with Glamour, Olsen revealed that there is one mantra her sisters go by that always stuck with her: "No is a full sentence." She continued, "The word 'No' specifically was something that I remember my sisters isolating and it becoming really empowering. And for women, it's a really empowering word," Olsen said.

In an interview with Modern Luxury, Olsen also noted that her sisters once gave her an important reminder that what she says does matter. She recalls that she used to say whatever she wanted in interviews until her sisters told her,"'You know, even if you don't think anyone's going to read this article, someone might pull the quote later for (something else).' It's all part of how you hope someone interprets you, and how they frame who you are and the work you do." There's nothing like a little sisterly advice.

Olsen was not bullied off Instagram, contrary to rumors

In the summer of 2020, Olsen decided to officially delete her Instagram account. The rumor at the time was that she deleted her account after hate she received for not posting about the death of her Avengers co-star Chadwick Boseman, but she maintains that this was not the case. "I'm never going back to social media. And it's not even like I was bullied," she told Glamour.

Olsen went on to say that while she is passionate about the work she does with non-profits, she feels a lot of the virtue-signaling shared on social media is actually detrimental to the cause. "It's dangerous to think, Oh something just happened in the world, I am an entitled person whose voice must be heard on this issue," she noted. "It's such a narcissistic viewpoint."

During her Hot Ones interview, Olsen expounded upon her views further. When host Sean Evans asked about her cost/benefit analysis of the platform, she replied that Instagram can be useful when you have a project you want to promote that might not get the recognition it deserves elsewhere. On the flip side, she maintained that "everything else is detrimental." Fittingly, Olsen's movie "Ingrid Goes West" -– which co-stars Aubrey Plaza –- was all about the dangers of social media obsession, something Olsen seems to be keenly in tune with. 

Olsen let it slip that she was married in an interview

Olsen is famously private about her personal life in interviews, a stance we imagine stems from the intense scrutiny she witnessed her sisters undergo. As such, the information fans have been able to glean about her life often comes from offhand comments she makes. For example, Olsen never actually announced she got married, she just let it slip in an interview.

While sitting down to talk with actress Kaley Cuoco for Variety's Actors on Actors series, Olsen made a comment that some observant fans quickly noticed. As they sat down to start the interview -– Olsen was sitting in the bathroom because of construction noises –- she told Cuoco: "I also just noticed that my husband put Little Miss Magic — you know, the Little Miss books? They're these classic books, but magic because of 'WandaVision'"

Olsen had never made a statement about being married (or not married) before, so this piece of information was breaking news to fans. According to US Weekly, Olsen married her husband – musician Robbie Arnett – in 2020. Cuoco didn't seem to be surprised at Olsen referring to Arnett as her husband, so we imagine their marriage was common knowledge to their friends and family.

Filming Silent House was one of the worst experiences of her life

As it turns out, we should be glad Elizabeth Olsen is still acting, as one of her first movie experiences was one of the most harrowing times of her life. Olsen's first film was 2011's "Martha Marcy May Marlene," which co-stars Sarah Paulson and follows a woman who has just left a cult. While the subject matter of that film may sound pretty intense, it was nothing compared to her next film, "Silent House," which came out the following year.

"Silent House" is a horror film that is meant to appear as if it was shot in one long take. Olsen plays a young woman trapped in her family's lake house as she is haunted by mysterious supernatural forces. On Hot Ones, Olsen was honest about her experience on set. "Since it's so long behind me, that was one of the worst experiences of my life," she said. She described how she had to spend the majority of the film screaming, crying, and crawling on the floor, which caused her to have bruises all over her legs and led to her getting a sinus infection from all the crying. "It was just brutal," she told Sean Evans.

As Olsen puts it, it's kind of a miracle she continued making films after that experience. "If that was the first movie I had gotten, I would have gone back to theater. I wouldn't have wanted to do another movie." We're very glad that didn't end up being the order of things.

Olsen wrote a children's book with her husband

Olsen is not just a talented actress –- she's now an author, too. In December of 2021, Olsen and her husband Robbie Arnett announced they would be publishing a children's book entitled "Hattie Harmony: Worry Detective," to be made available on June 28, 2022. The book touches on mental health and self-care. As Olsen told People, "Robbie and I couldn't be more thrilled to introduce the world to Hattie Harmony. Inspired by the picture books we adored as kids, we hope that Hattie will become a friend and a welcomed reminder to be kind to yourself and to each other."

"Worry Detective" is the first book in the Hattie Harmony series and follows Hattie as she helps her friends overcome their fears and anxieties while managing her own. Olsen and Arnett told People, "When we sat down to write Hattie Harmony, our goal was to create a relatable character who made talking about complicated feelings fun and engaging for kids. We hope Hattie Harmony will become a welcomed reminder that it's okay to speak up when we need help."

Olsen has always been passionate about discussing mental health. In fact, she told Glamour that those concerns drew her to the character of Wanda and the "WandaVision" series in particular. Olsen and Arnett have spoken about their hope the book will introduce readers to the idea of self-care and empathy, something that can be useful to both children and adults.

Olsen always says no to presenting at awards shows

Elizabeth Olsen may seem bubbly and outgoing in interviews and exude confidence on movie screens, but there's one part of the business that she's never been comfortable with. Fans of Olsen's may have noticed that Olsen never appears as a presenter at awards shows, at least not in the last few years. Part of this has to do with her sisters' advice about saying no, something she has taken to heart as she engages with the industry more and more.

She explained her absence from the awards shows stage to Independent. "I don't like presenting at awards shows. I tried and I don't like it. It is not worth the feeling of passing out that I get, like, every time. It's just not worth it." While dressing up in a silly outfit and being suspended from wires in front of hundreds of other crew members may seem nerve-wracking for some, for Olsen, it's all in a day's work. On the other hand, while presenting at awards shows may seem like a necessary part of the job of an actor, Olsen doesn't see it that way.

She credits some of this moral certainty to her sisters, noting that "I'm really in awe of what they've built, and I do think that came from them having such a healthy perspective –- and I could only benefit from that healthy perspective. I think it has informed how I conduct myself."

She loves to audition

If you've watched a lot of interviews or roundtables with Hollywood stars, you've probably noticed that a lot of actors don't speak very fondly about the audition process. Of course, the benefit of becoming a huge star is that you don't actually have to audition anymore -– no one's asking Meryl Streep in for a callback. Elizabeth Olsen doesn't seem to have the same apprehension about auditioning that many of her peers do.

Speaking with Sam Jones on the Off Camera Show, Olsen described auditing as being "like meditation" for her. "You're focusing on something that has nothing to do with the ninety-nine percent of recycled thoughts that happens in the day-to-day." She went on to say that the process was "such a break" for her and that she loves "being in the zone."

Olsen explained her thoughts on the process in a different way in her episode of Hot Ones. "There's something really special about having ownership of a character that no one else has an opinion on yet, and it's kind of like a nice moment for an actor, I think." Olsen is refreshingly grounded about the tumultuous industry she is a part of, going on to describe auditioning as "a day where you get to do your job that you like to do, apparently."

Olsen is a foodie and her favorite restaurant is Il Buco

Though Elizabeth Olsen doesn't have social media, she does love to hobnob with the best of the best in the food industry. She once cooked wild boar ragu with renowned French chef Eric Ripert and has been featured on the Bon Appétit YouTube channel on two separate occasions. Olsen did a First We Feast fridge tour and even made Kelly Clarkson try her famous anchovy toast on her talk show. Speaking with Architectural Digest, she revealed that she has a separate set of knives that she takes with her when she's traveling to shoot on location.

Olsen has said that one of her favorite restaurants in the world is Il Buco and told Hot Ones host Sean Evans that the cookbook she would recommend to any home chef is the Il Buco cookbook. Olsen even agreed with Evans' assertion that she is an "Il Buco stan," noting that she has spent "half [her] birthdays on this planet at Il Buco." We're waiting for a Top Chef/Marvel tie-in where Olsen can finally put her experienced tastebuds to the test. A Russian challenge, maybe? We're giving you free ideas, Bravo.