Updated On: November 06, 2023 by   Maha Yassin   Maha Yassin  

Elizabeth Olsen

Elizabeth Olsen: No Roles Left Untaken

When you hear the name Olsen, there are only two ways your brain can interpret it. Either you think Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and that would mean you’re probably a Millennial, or you’ll think Elizabeth Olsen, and that means you’re Gen Z. Both these choices do not reflect the ages of these actresses, but […]

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When you hear the name Olsen, there are only two ways your brain can interpret it. Either you think Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and that would mean you’re probably a Millennial, or you’ll think Elizabeth Olsen, and that means you’re Gen Z. Both these choices do not reflect the ages of these actresses, but rather the age of the audience and the time they were most active in. 

Today, we’re not talking about the 2000s sensational Olsen twins. However, we’re talking about the little sister, Elizabeth Olsen. The sister who came out and conquered the movie industry with her talent, her hard work, her charm and her more than excellent choices of projects. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about the one and only Elizabeth -Lizzy- Olsen.

Elizabeth Olsen Wants to Be an Actress

Elizabeth Olsen

Elizabeth Chase Olsen, who likes to go by Lizzy, was born in Sherman Oaks, California 1989. She is one of 4 siblings, two of whom are the famous actresses turned fashion designers Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. 

Elizabeth grew up in the middle of Hollywood. Her parents were wealthy, and her sisters were already well-known actresses when she came to be. She knew she wanted to become an actress since she was a little girl, and lucky for her, her family supported her dream. She began her acting career when she was four years old alongside her sisters. She appeared in multiple projects of theirs, such as The Adventures of Mary Kate and Ashley.

Lizzy might be a nepo baby, but no one can say she did not put in the work needed to get her where she is. However, at some point in her early life, Lizzy almost quit acting due to the pressure of always being labelled in relation to her famous sisters. Lucky for us, this only led her to pursue acting more formally and get the education needed to help her shine.

From acting camps to attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to going all the way to Russia to attend the Moscow Art Theatre School, Elizabeth Olsen worked very hard to hone her acting skills and make sure she would be known for who she is and no for who she is related to. Fair to say, she succeeded!

After years of formal education and working with theatre companies, Elizabeth Olsen finally secured an agent, and her movie career began.

Elizabeth Goes to Hollywood

Elizabeth Olsen

It’s 2011, and Elizabeth Olsen is 22 years old and ready to take Hollywood by storm. Some actors may like to start their careers with minor roles that test the water and guide them slowly into more significant roles in the future, but that is not Lizzy’s way! She either goes big or goes home.

Elizabeth’s first role in Hollywood was the critically acclaimed movie Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). The film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival, was a thriller that told the story of a young girl trying to adjust to everyday life after escaping from a cult. Elizabeth’s excellent performance and understanding of her character caught the attention of film critics. She gained a lot of positive reviews, critical acclaim and numerous award nominations, including a Critics Choice Award for Best Actress and an Independent Spirit Award. Martha Marcy May Marlene was Lizzy’s launching role that helped her career take off as soon as it started.

From here on out, Elizabeth Olsen left no roles untaken. From starring in thrillers like Martha Marcy May Marlene to horror movies like Silent House (2011) to action movies like Red Lights (2012) to comedies like Liberal Arts (2012) and even biographies like Kill Your Darlings (2013), she jumped from one genre to another and succeeded in every single one.

Lizzy didn’t just want to be a critic’s darling; she wanted audiences to love her and the whole world to know who she was. That came once she joined the MCU as Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch. This role which she played from 2015 to 2022, launched Lizzy’s international stardom and made her an A-list actress that cannot be taken for granted.

Elizabeth Takes All the Roles

If there is one thing critics and audiences can agree on, it is that Elizabeth Olsen is fearless in jumping genres and taking different roles each time. Lizzy has done everything from indie films to theatre to international blockbusters. She embodies all her characters perfectly while giving herself a wide breath to her own touch in every role she takes. 

With more than twenty-five projects to her name so far, thirty-four years old Elizabeth Olsen has proven time and time again that she can and will do it all. Let’s look into Lizzy’s most significant roles and the characters that drove her career forward.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Release date: 21 October 2011

Directed by: Sean Durkin

For her debut, Elizabeth Olsen went hard by landing the role of Martha in Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. The psychological thriller, written and directed by Durkin, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was later presented at Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.

Plot Summary

The story follows Martha, a young woman who her friend convinced to join a cult in the Catskill Mountains. Martha had been a member of this cult for two years before she decided to escape. The movie starts with Martha’s decision to leave the cult as she runs through the woods to a nearby town. She then calls her sister, whom she hasn’t talked to in two years, to come pick her up.

Lucy, Martha’s sister, picks her up and takes her to her and her husband’s lake house. Feeling guilt for abandoning Martha all those years ago, Lucy takes it upon herself he help Martha readjust to everyday life despite her husband’s objection. Martha exhibits peculiar behaviour as she lives with Lucy and her husband, Ted, including being overly paranoid and sleeping all the time.

In a flashback, we see what led to Martha’s escape from the cult. She has been brutally raped by the cult’s leader Patrick and has been made to perform several unlawful acts to prove her loyalty. Eventually, it’s implied that she killed Partick before running away, which is why she is always paranoid about someone coming for her. The movie ends with Martha, Lucy and Ted leaving, driving away from the lake house with a car following them.

Awards and Acclaim

Martha Marcy May Marlene was a critical success for both Elizabeth Olsen and Sean Durkin. It received various awards and nominations that helped Elizabeth Olsen launch her successful career. Lizzy, herself received multiple awards for her role as Martha, including the Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer Award, Florida Film Critics Circle Breakout Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award, Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actress.

Sorry for Your Loss

Release date: 18 September 2018

Created by: Kit Steinkellner

From movies to TV series, Elizabeth Olsen did it all. Sorry for Your Loss is a drama series that premiered on Facebook Watch in 2018 and went on to have a second season in 2019 before being cancelled. Even though the series only lasted for two seasons, it significantly impacted Elizabeth Olsen’s career, showing her as a drama actress that can carry a series and not just movies. The fact that Lizzy had time and energy to do Sorry for Your Loss during her gruelling role as the Scarlet Witch speaks volumes in itself.

Plot Summary

Leigh, played by Olsen, is a recent widow who is struggling with life after her husband’s sudden death. The series opens up with Leigh in grief therapy, where she decides to go back to the apartment she shared with her husband for the first time after his death. Cleaning up the apartment, Leigh starts to discover that there are many things she did not know about her husband. Things only get worse when her husband’s brother Danny shows up, and they start arguing about who gets to keep Matt’s possessions.

Throughout the two seasons of Sorry for Your Loss, Leigh slowly uncovers things about her husband Matt that she did not know before and tries to tie loose ends in their relationship. Through her relationship with her sister Jules, her husband’s brother Danny and Becky, a friend she made in grief therapy, Leigh starts to understand her sadness better and make peace with the fact that she and her husband might not have had the perfect marriage. However, she still loved him, and they still had their happy moments.

Awards and Acclaim

With a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Sorry for Your Loss is considered a critical success despite being cancelled after only its second season. Reviewers have described the show as witty, charming and funny despite its sad story. Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Leigh has gained multiple acclaims and positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The show has not won any awards but has been nominated for Best Web Series in the Shorty Awards and Lizzy for Best Actress in the Critics Choice Awards.

WandaVision

Release date: 15 January 2021

Directed by: Matt Shakman

Elizabeth Olsen’s most famous role is her MCU character Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch. Lizzy first played Wanda in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, her character was first seen in an after-credits scene in the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Her character Wanda is the sister of Pietro Maximoff, and both are mutants who gained their powers through being experimented on (or at least that’s what we think at the beginning).

Olsen went on to reprise her roles as Wanda Maximoff in several MCU films, including Captian America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022). However, Lizzy’s character Wanda did not get her chance to shine in these movies as she did in her own Disney+ series WandaVision (2021).

Plot Summary

WandaVision was Marvel’s first series premiering on 15 January 2021 on Disney+. The series takes place three weeks after the events of Avenger: Endgame. The story opens with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) living in a house in an American suburb as husband and wife.

Each episode of the nine-episode limited series is inspired by sitcoms beginning in the 1950s and all the way to the early 2000s. The premise of each episode is different from the other, with a common theme weaving through the whole series of something peculiar happening. As Wanda tries to maintain the facade of living everyday life and being a regular wife who maintains a house, has nosy neighbours and a loving husband, things start to go out of her control.

In each episode, Wanda creates a different world based on popular sitcoms she watched as a child, building herself and Vision the perfect life they never got to experience due to their lives as Avengers. As the series goes by, it gets more apparent to the audience that this whole world is Wanda’s doing and the people in her neighbourhood are unwilling participants in her fantasy life.

Things get out of control. It is revealed that Wanda’s neighbour Agnes is not just a nosy harmless friend but a dangerous witch in disguise. Agnes is revealed to be Agatha Harkness, a witch who came to steal Wanda’s powers. After a fight that breaks the spell Wanda cast on Westview, Wanda is revealed as the Scarlet Witch, a prophesied witch who can manipulate Chaos magic.

Awards and Acclaim

WandaVision gave Elizabeth Olsen a chance to portray Wanda as more than a superhero but also a grieving lover, a wife, a mother and a human who just wanted to live a happy life. Her astonishing performance gained Lizzy several awards, nominations and critical acclaim. Olsen showed a side of Wanda Maximoff audiences have never seen before, earning her all the praise she deserved.  

WandaVision was nominated for eight Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Lead Actress Award for Elizabeth Olsen. The limited series won three Creative Emmy Awards, four Critics’ Choice Television Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, one Grammy Award, a Hugo Award and several other prominent awards. WandaVision was a critic’s and audience’s favourite in 2021 and was a strong start for Marvel’s limited series.

At only thirty-four years old, Elizabeth Olsen has proved that she is a force not to be reckoned with. An actress who is not afraid to take on a challenge and who considers every role she does, Olsen will indeed have a marvellous future in Hollywood and in beyond. We cannot wait to see where her career takes her next!

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