And while it may be tempting – and lazy – to question Elizabeth on the quirks of growing up with child star siblings, that is actually one of the least interesting things about her. That’s not to say she’s cagey though, in fact she’s anything but. She’s engaging, funny and without any of the airs and graces that you might expect of an A-lister – and more than happy to don a red wig and ludicrously long false nails for our Hitchcock-inspired cover shoot. “I’ve never got to do a shoot as creative as this,” she says. “It’s usually like, ‘Try and look pretty!’” During our interview she talks openly and at length about politics, society’s imperfections and, of course, acting – a career that she’s seven years into and still completely enamored by. And with her track record for balancing independent films (her star turn in debut Martha Marcy May Marlene was mesmerising) and blockbuster successes (Avengers: Age of Ultron made well over a billion dollars at the box office) it seems it won’t be long before all questions about Elizabeth’s siblings will be the furthest thing from our minds.
More recently she proved the diversity of her acting chops in Taylor Sheridan’s directorial debut Wind River, playing a green FBI agent investigating the rape and murder of a Native American teenager on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation, before doing a 180 and taking on the role of a neurotic Instagram influencer in Matt Spicer’s witty, satirical Ingrid Goes West. And next? Elizabeth says that she’s learning to be patient, waiting for roles that fulfil her creatively. “But right now,” she says, “I’m just in love with my job.”
In your most recent films – Ingrid Goes West and Wind River – you play two completely opposite characters, what drew you to them?
Elizabeth Olsen: I filmed Wind River first. I signed on to that about a year before filming it, but I was scared that it wasn’t going to happen because we lost an actor. But then Jeremy [Renner] came on board and it ended up being better that way. It was meant to happen, I think. Getting to be a part of that world, understanding it and telling that story was really beautiful. There was a lot of heart and soul in that film and to get to play a young woman who is driven and cares about morality and justice felt right. And then with Ingrid Goes West, it made me laugh; I thought it was really funny. How Matt [Spicer] wrote LA as a character was so specific and funny, without really trying to make people laugh. It was a really distinct portrayal of extreme characters that were hilarious, and I’ve been wanting to do something that was funny but also quite dark and disturbing for a long time because that’s the type of humour I’ve always liked. I just re-watched Death Becomes Her the other day, and Drop Dead Gorgeous was one of my favourite films growing up. I feel like twisted comedies don’t get made that often anymore – they feel rooted in a time – so it was great to be involved in this throwback genre that is one of my favourites.
A dark twisted comedy feels a bit like a metaphor for social media in a way…
There doesn’t have to be a movie about Instagram, but it is the perfect metaphor for all the characters and what they’re going through. It’s this insecurity that we all go through when we hit puberty but I think Instagram has stilted us – we haven’t graduated from that experience.