TIFF Q&A: Elizabeth Olsen

The film star on fashion, cults, and growing up Olsen


Drew Innis

Elizabeth Olsen1
Elizabeth Olsen

Photo by Fox Searchlight

Elizabeth Olsen

Photo by Keystone

Who would have predicted at the height of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen madness that the real actor in the family would turn out to be 22-year-old younger sister Elizabeth? As the twin designers throw themselves into their well-regarded fashion collections, “Lizzie,” as practically everyone calls her, is about to break out in her own right at the Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF is just the latest stop for Olsen’s indie drama Martha Marcy May Marlene, a story of a young woman who escapes a cult. Her performance has already earned acclaim at Sundance and Cannes. Chatting over the phone from her latest set in Ohio, Elizabeth talks to Flare about her fashion favourites, the truth about cults, and what it was like growing up Olsen.

FLARE: Was this cult based on anything in particular?
It was based on a few different cults. Sean Durkin, the director and the writer, one of his friends, anonymously, shared her story with him. A lot of it is rooted in her story that she actually experienced. People who are cult victims don’t talk about it. Only maybe their family knows about it. So it actually is out there but you can’t talk about it because you are afraid of what could happen.

What influence has it had having the sisters that you have?
I’m not just some new actor; I’m some new actor who people know my family, and so they think that they somehow know me because they know my sisters. And people are confused that there’s this other person in the family that exists, you know. But I have six kids in my family. I think it’s more interesting from like an outside perspective then the inside perspective.

You looked amazing in their line [The Row] at Cannes. How interested are you in fashion?

I like it. It’s not something to me that would ever be a job.

What’s something that you would get excited about wearing?
Chanel and Fendi and Balenciaga and Celine.

Sometimes you hear that there are no good roles for women. What is your opinion on that?

I feel like I’ve found a lot of parts that I’ve really loved. The whole thing with Martha Marcy May Marlene, is when I read it, that role, like all the different things you’re able to access, like how deep you have to go, you usually don’t get to do that until you’re, like, 50. But this was something where you could do all of those things and I can be my age.

Click here to see the 7 stars we’ll be watching for at TIFF.

Watch Now: Martha Marcy May Marlene Trailers