THE NEW YORK TIMES – LIFE/STYLE – Elizabeth Olsen used to waiting in the wings. When she was a theater student at New York University, she landed a supporting role in the play Broadway impressionismfeaturing Jeremy Irons. The season ran for 56 performances. Olsen didn’t take the stage once.
This kind of missed opportunity can mess with an actress’ mind, but Olsen was never in a rush to enjoy the spotlight. Years later when she was cast as the witch Wanda Maximoff in Avengers: Age of Ultronhis character was more of an auxiliary than a main Avenger, and in three later films of the wonder – each with a greater number of superheroes than the last – Olsen never passed 10th billing.
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But a funny thing happened after all this time: Wanda Visiona parody sitcom about Wanda and her android husband, became an unexpected phenomenon when it premiered early last year on Disney+. This month, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesswhich features Olsen as a co-star and pits his troubled witch against the wizard of Benedict Cumberbatch, was found to be even more important. The film earned $185 million in its first three days of release, ranking 11th among the biggest opening weekends of all time.
For Olsen, who first made his mark on indie films, it’s like turning the page of a comic book to be the big picture on a massive splash board. On a video call last week, I asked what it was like to stand out as the lead of a blockbuster.
“I’m totally embarrassed!” she says. “I’m not going to look.”
Hours after our conversation, Olsen would walk the red carpet for the Hollywood premiere of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but she planned to run away from the cinema once the movie started. “It’s the pressure I feel for the first time,” he explained. “I am very anxious about the launch of strange doctor because I’ve never had to direct a commercial film alone.
as your manager strange doctorSam Raimi, had not yet watched all the parts of Wanda Vision when filming began, it was up to Olsen to go along with both projects. in the series of Disney+Wanda is so heartbroken after the death of her true love, Vision (Paul Bettany), who concocts an elaborate sitcom where he is still alive and adds two children to complete the illusion. But in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessit takes a much harsher turn: Corrupted by a demonic grimoire, Wanda kills a cast of good guys on a journey across the multiverse to find her children.
Olsen “is terrifying not because of her destructive powers or her diabolical ambitions, but because she is so sad,” wrote film critic AO Scott. The New York Times. And if you still feel sympathy for Wanda as she makes mincemeat of our heroes, it’s because of Olsen’s efforts to ground the character in something that feels specific and intimate. When Wanda makes a deadly threat, Olsen makes a soft voice and her eyes fill with tears and regret: there’s a real person there. (While other actresses in the realm of villains lean towards the artificial, Olsen understands that when you’re soaring through the air and wearing a red tiara, things are artificial enough already.)
But is six Marvel projects the kind of film career she was hoping for? Not exactly.
“It took me away from the physical ability to do certain works that I felt were more in line with the things that I loved as an audience,” Olsen said. “And I’m being as honest as possible.”
Olsen knew he wanted to act since he was a kid, but he also knew he didn’t want to act as a kid. Any curiosity she might have had about fame was quenched growing up alongside her sisters. Marie-Kate and Ashleywhich have been scaled three is too much before you even turn a year old. The scrutiny that came with stardom could wait.
Anyway, she was much more comfortable in a group. Olsen played volleyball in high school and awoke to team camaraderie: Everyone could have their solo moment, but they had to work together to be successful. Even in college, when she started auditioning for movies, she was in no rush to quit the theater ensemble she played with at school.
But cinema is not always so egalitarian. In 2011, Olsen rocked the Sundance Film Festival with two movies: the silent housea one-take thriller that keeps your lens focused on her for 87 minutes, and Martha Marcy May Marlene, which cast her as a former cult member struggling to move on. Both of these performances led people to dub her the “fashion girl” of Park City, but as influencers lined up in the snow to meet her, Olsen trusted nothing they said.
“It really felt like everyone was saying contradictory things,” she said. “I was like, ‘It’s a bubble.’ I felt like I was literally in a snow globe.
She came out of that experience knowing only two things: She didn’t want to be called a tearful independent girl, but she didn’t want to be pushed into big-budget movies either. “It scared me, that kind of pressure,” she said.
Still, sometimes it’s nice to be invited to the party. A few years into her career, after a series of low-key indies, she asked her agent why she had never been considered for major films. The answer: “People don’t think you wanted to make them.”
She wanted? It’s a question Olsen must have asked himself back then – and still does, from time to time. She decided she needed to expose herself more and did a remake of Godzilla in 2014, arguing that it was at least directed by Gareth Edwards, who until then had been an independent filmmaker.
And then came the role of Wanda, and with it, her debut in Hollywood’s biggest franchise. While Olsen pondered the offer of wonder be the star Avengers: Age of Ultron, she listed the benefits: It would challenge her independent stereotype. She would again be part of an ensemble, now overpowered. And your co-star from Godzilla, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, was ready to take on the adventure as Wanda’s brother, Pietro, making sure she wouldn’t go it alone. They signed a contract with Ultron in a relationship with.
But Pietro was killed at the end of this film, and while a shaken Wanda remained in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Olsen pondered the same question, wondering if it really matched. Due to her commitments to Marvel, she had to turn down a starring role in the dark comedy. Yorgos Lanthimos lobsterand it didn’t take a multiverse for Olsen to imagine how this movie would take her on a whole new path as an actress.
“I started to feel frustrated,” she said. “I had that job security, but I was losing those elements that I felt were more of a part of who I was. And the further away I got from that, the less I was considered for it.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier it was supposed to be Marvel’s first Disney+ series, an old-school mean action series in which superheroes smack villains in each hour-long episode. Wanda Vision, on the other hand, was a half-hour parody of a sitcom; the most significant fights were marital, fermented by a trail of awkward laughter.
“We thought what we were doing was so weird and we didn’t know if we had an audience for it, so there was freedom,” Olsen said. “There was no pressure, no fear. It was a very healthy experience.
But after the pandemic prompted Marvel to rearrange the order of its Disney+ series, Wanda Vision was the first and became the unlikely standard bearer. The series has spawned countless memes, crashed the streaming service multiple times, and earned 23 nominations for Emmysincluding a Best Actress nomination for Olsen.
Most important, Wanda Vision helped her fall in love with Wanda – a character she’s played for years – for the first time. The series offered a dizzying array of roles – some comedic, others modern and dark – and the first episode, filmed with a live audience, required all of Olsen’s theatrical training to pull off. She wasn’t sure it would resonate with a wider audience until friends sent her video clips of a brunch in Minneapolis, where drag queens dressed like all the alter egos of wanda. “If you get to that point,” Olsen said with a laugh, “then you’re really part of the culture.”
With the Black Widow in Scarlett Johansson out of the picture, Olsen is now the Marvel actress with the most clocked hours. She feels refreshed enough afterwards Wanda Vision and strange doctorto play in a solo film about your character?
“I think so,” she said. “But it really has to be a good story. I think these movies are best when it’s not about creating content, but about having a really strong point of view – not because you have to have a three-movie shot.” / TRANSLATION LÍVIA BUELONI GONÇALVES
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