Interview: Elizabeth Olsen Talks ‘Silent House,’ Cooking and More
If you’re looking for a thriller to see this weekend, we definitely recommend Silent House.
We had a chance to sit down with the movie’s star, Elizabeth Olsen, at the recent press junket where she opened up about how rigorous the long takes were, how she’s a big foodie, and what’s next for this rising star.
Something we love about Olsen is, that even though she grew up with famous siblings (Mary-Kate & Ashley), she is not jaded by Hollywood and is really just a normal 23-year-old. After the interview she was going home to watch her little sister play in her basketball game. So sweet. She even spent her birthday shopping for new pots with her mom.
Silent House is a thriller and a remake that allows the viewers to experience Sarah’s (Olsen) terror as she’s trapped inside her summer house in real time. The movie is made to look like one continuous shot, even though it was done in multiple takes.
Read what Olsen had to say about Silent House and more below. Silent House is in theaters now.
What was harder – remembering dialogue for long takes or hitting all of the marks? When you’re an actor, you have to know your lines, so you can’t really say that was hard. It was difficult to go through a scene so many times and record it a 100% and what would happen would we would have an 11 or 12 minute take and something would go wrong at 10 minutes and make every single thing we did unusable. That was the hardest to think “can’t you just use a little bit of that?”
What was the dumbest, frustrating thing that was like ‘Oh really?’ There was one that every single department…cause this was hard for every department…One time we were doing the very last scene and this was from the ending we had for Sundance, so the ending has changed since then. The last shot was actually on a polaroid. Literally it’s a second and we finished and were like “we got it.” But one of the props people had to put the polaroid in a certain place and right when the camera got there there’s a finger pulling out and it was the last second of the whole film. If we had a lucky day we had 2 useable takes.
How did you manage to summon and maintain the emotional intensity for the duration that you needed to do it? Eventually it became a muscle. It became kind of detrimental in my personal life…it became this automatic muscle and I got a sinus infection at the end of filming. You just play with your imagination and you try and keep a barometer of knowing what minute you’re in. You hope that even though you do something for 12 hours over and over again, you can maintain that beat without making it go too far. It was a very difficult acting challenge for me.
Do you watch horror movies? I love horror movies. I watch them with my hands over my ears just in case I want to cover my ears and close my eyes. That’s how I watch horror movies.
Were you a fan of the gory type of horror movies? No. For me, in my taste now, I haven’t seen the good ones that have come out in the past few years. I did seen ‘Them,’ the French movie. My brother made me watch it when he found out I was doing this movie. That is definitely one of my favorite modern day horror films. Growing up, my first few memories watching movies in general was Arachnaphobia, Jaws, Tremors.
This past year has been such a dramatic introduction to your work. Did you expect to have this whirlwind coming out when you started making movies? No, when we made Martha, I was just like cool I get to work on some cool material. I was probably unaware of what happens after you make an independent film. I didn’t understand the festivals, buying and selling, etc. It’s just been a year of first every things. I know I’m in a very odd situation where the first movie that I ever worked on ever without ever having to do a “Law & Order” or anything. I auditioned for them but they didn’t cast me. it’s very odd and lucky. I couldn’t expect any of it so it hasn’t changed my life that exists, it’s changed my work life. I wish I could say that I’ve made money and could buy a home but I can’t.
Is auditioning easier now? I love auditioning. I’ve always liked it. It’s so funny, now I don’t really audition. You have meetings. I’m like do you want me to read for you. I like it, I think it’s an important part of the process where you get to say ‘this is what I thought and do you jive with that?’
Does anyone make you starstruck? Tom Colicchio, no Catherine O’Hara. I literally had the biggest moment in front of her. She thinks we’re crazy. She probably thinks we’re on “Glee.” She had no idea who I was. The week before, my friend Clay goes ‘If we see Catherine O’Hara I’m going to die. But why would we see her, that’d be cool.’ She’s just right there and we both open our eyes and cover our mouths and she’s like ‘Hi.’ “We’re like the biggest fans. We have senses of humor because of you. We’ve been quoting you since we were in elementary school.” And she was like ok nice kids.
Besides theater and acting, what are you passionate about? I’m a huge foodie. I love cooking and going to restaurants. That’s something I actively do. For my birthday my mom and I went to Williams & Sonoma and she bought me pots. I couldn’t be more happy to have a new set of pots. I also like traveling. If I get the opportunity to I try and take it, especially if someone else is going to send me somewhere. I really like being a student.
What is the best thing you cook? I started doing dinner parties when I was 17. I threw them seasonally. I really like making this one pasta with raw zucchini. You just make zucchini look like pasta and you marinate it in a sauce and it just becomes a pasta.
How do you want to shape your career. Do you want to go more towards the blockbuster films or stay independent films? What’s happening right now for me, is that first off I’m so excited that right now I have choices. I’m going through this thing where I’m like “I’ll do that and that and that” and I kind of want to do everything because I’ve never been in this position like this before. I’m doing a small part in Kill Your Darlings. I’m in four scenes and I cannot wait to work on it. Then I get to do a movie with Glenn Close for 3 months of my life and that’s a period piece. I’m trying to do things right now that are something that I’ve never worked on before, that’s a challenge and that’s interesting to me with people that I respect and want to work with. I’m well aware that the life of an actor goes in and out and up and down and right now I feel very lucky to be working. I’m very well aware that it’s going to be a roller coaster.
What’s your dream theatre role? There’s a Eugene O’Neal play called ‘Strange Interlude’ and it tracks the life of a woman from about 20 to 50, so I think I have to be a little more in the middle of those ages to play that part. That’s a big one. I’d really love to do a Sam Shepard play and I’d really love to do something by Martin McDonough whatever it is whether it’s television, a movie. Seeing his plays in the theater is so fun for me. He makes it a ride.