Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Elizabeth Olsen

The rising star of this week's Silent House also talks about the rigors of the shoot, and the pressure of following up her acclaimed Martha Marcy May Marlene.

by | March 6, 2012 | Comments

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Considering she’s the little sister of two of pop culture’s most famous siblings, Elizabeth Olsen came out of relatively nowhere to wow critics and audiences with her eerie performance in last year’s cult thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene. Some observers even had her pegged for a possible Best Actress Oscar nomination. She was robbed; but we digress.

In this week’s horror release Silent House, Olsen again gets to flex her talent for freaking the hell out, only this time with more of the shocks, splatter and lurid psychology favored by the genre crowd. As Sara, a mysterious young woman trapped and fighting for her life in a dilapidated old property, Olsen has the difficult task of carrying the movie — made to resemble one queasy long take — from off-kilter beginnings to its shrieking, full-blown conclusion.

We sat down with a much calmer Olsen recently to talk about shooting the film and the pressure of following up the acclaimed Martha; but first, she took a moment to run through her five favorite films.


Gone With the Wind (1939) 91%

For me a favorite movie is a movie that you can watch at any time, and so I would say Gone With the Wind. I think the cool thing about Gone With the Wind… Well, this is what I decided, as I get older and more intelligent, why I like the film — because as a little kid I just loved the love story, and the Civil War was an interesting thing to me — but now it’s that I think it’s really cool to have the heroine of a film be someone that you really just don’t wanna like. You struggle liking her and I think that’s awesome. It is not a happy film. When it ends it’s just so heartbreaking, and I know it’s happening but I just can’t handle it every time.

Annie Hall (1977) 97%

I just love Woody Allen movies, so much. Annie Hall is also the first movie poster I owned — and it’s an original; I feel so happy to have it. I would love to work with Woody Allen. I would love to.

Manhattan (1979) 95%

Also, Manhattan. I can watch Diane Keaton in a Woody Allen movie over and over and over again. Any time I’m on location somewhere foreign, I watch those two movies ’cause they remind me of New York and being happy. I have them on my computer.

Roman Holiday (1953) 98%

Roman Holiday is another one of those movies: first off, I feel like I’m supposed to go to Rome, like my soul’s supposed to be in Rome, but it’s also one of those movies that I have on my computer for when I’m abroad. It also helps me fall asleep — the older movies, the way they look, for some reason, make me tired. It’s just one of those easy movies to watch and cozy up to and unwind with.

Pal Joey (1957) 80%

Pal Joey was my favorite musical as a kid. I just love that film.


Luke Goodsell for Rotten Tomatoes: Silent House is another intense performance from you after Martha Marcy May Marlene. Do you feel any pressure with this, given the accolades you received for Martha?

Elizabeth Olsen: I think I did at first but, you know, they’re different audiences, the two movies. I’m a horror movie fan, and I want horror movie fans to go and see this movie — and that’s a very different audience than people going to art cinema. So at first I was like, “Oh I’m so nervous, what are the critics gonna say?” but now it’s just like, “Wait, this is an audience’s movie.” That’s how I’m thinking about it.

RT: You also set the bar too high for yourself. You should’ve started with a really crappy film.

Olsen: [laughs] I know.

RT: Was this actually shot in one take?

Olsen: No. No, it wasn’t. It was very difficult. We did about 13 takes, so the average take was about 10, 12 minutes; maybe a couple were seven minutes. So that’s how we did it.

RT: Did you get far into takes and then make a mistake and have to do them again?

Olsen: Every day. Every single day we did one shot, and so we literally just worked on one chunk for 12 hours. They only had one or two options that they were allowed to use in editing, because everything else would have a mistake in it and it’d be technically for nothing.

RT: I was watching closely the blood splattered on your neck, for example, to see if it moved or changed shape across shots.

Olsen: To try and find the continuity? Yeah. There were so many pictures taken at all times. Once we’d finished — actually completed a take fully, all 12 minutes, and they felt confidently about it — every single department was snapping away, all over the set, all over my body. It was just, we literally would have to pick up continuity and be, “Oh, you had a tear here — we have to put a little shiny thing here.” [laughs]

RT: So you were being watched very intensely by all these people?

Olsen: Yeah. But it was really fun to do these long takes and have the crew be a boom guy and a camera guy — and that’s it. And you’re just in a house, playing make believe. There was something really cool about that. I mean, it was exhausting and difficult, but there was something cool to it.

RT: Did filming these multiple long takes help heighten the intensity of the performance?

Olsen: It did build the intensity. I don’t know if it helped or not, because I tried hard to try and have some kind of journey and variation; but sometimes — because of the repetitive nature of how we filmed it; there’s no other way to do it, I don’t think — it definitely made things more intense. And you know, if it works it works. I sometimes wish I could go back and be like, “If only I were more brave in that part,” ’cause I feel like that was needed, or something like that — but you’re always gonna do that for every movie, so I’m just letting it go.

(Photo by Open Road Films)

RT: This character’s pretty traumatized. How do you get to a point where you’re able to escalate that trauma? What sort of preparation did you do?

Olsen: You know, we did discuss a lot — and obviously I don’t want to give away the ending — but we did discuss a lot about what happens with trauma and people who hide it, and things like that. So that’s just something that I needed to learn a little bit more about, to justify what happens in the end and understand it. When it comes to just being chased around the house and being scared for your life and trying to get out, I have a pretty fatalistic imagination — and eventually, as we were filming it, it just became like this muscle. And I was actually very sensitive in my everyday life. For instance: I wasn’t driving, but let’s say if I was driving and someone flipped me off or something, I probably would have cried. [laughs] I was so sensitive. I feel like it was such a muscle that came on, like being scared or hurt or nervous — because of doing it over and over again.

RT: Those are real tears in the film, then.

Olsen: Yeah. [laughs]

RT: These characters you’re playing — Sara in this, Martha, and even some of the parts you’ve got coming up — are so harrowed and in such emotional peril. What is it with you and these kinds of roles?

Olsen: I’m really interested in working on movies that are also kind of like different genres. I feel like Martha‘s one genre, this is a different type of genre; both are difficult in their own ways, and challenging. But I did do this movie Liberal Arts with Josh Radnor that was at Sundance; I really wanted to do something happy. [laughs] And I did.

RT: Okay. I was getting worried about you there.

Olsen: [laughs] And I’m doing a really fun movie with Dakota Fanning that’s more based in, what do you call it? It’s not like a comedy but it’s also not a drama. It’s just kind of real. We’re doing that, and then I’m doing two different period pieces — so I am trying to mix it up.

RT: Are you looking forward to playing [writer and Jack Kerouac’s wife] Edie Parker in Kill Your Darlings?

Olsen: Yeah, I’m so excited. We do that in New York at the end of March. I feel like I’m doing her autobiography in my mind, but I’m really doing four scenes of her life. [laughs] But I’m very excited. It’s gonna be a great movie.


Silent House is in theaters this week.

Tag Cloud

OWN elevated horror IFC Avengers CMT A24 The CW Watching Series DC Universe Box Office DC streaming service psycho streaming strong female leads WarnerMedia spider-man cancelled television Marathons Crackle doctor who harry potter Summer Fox News Spring TV RT21 TBS 2017 2015 Stephen King Best and Worst Netflix Christmas movies Comedy cops dogs political drama Tomatazos Extras Amazon Prime Reality Competition Animation Logo Trophy Talk Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt WGN Sundance Now TCA 2017 24 frames Winners New York Comic Con YouTube Red children's TV social media latino 2018 mutant comiccon Trailer ESPN south america comics Mary poppins Paramount Network Pop TV The Walking Dead Travel Channel Amazon Studios Red Carpet Fantasy Oscars 45 period drama CBS hispanic blaxploitation SDCC Apple dceu El Rey dc FX crossover Walt Disney Pictures Pride Month romantic comedy 2019 transformers series Winter TV teaser Disney USA Network CNN Brie Larson screen actors guild National Geographic Starz reboot Countdown Marvel Television AMC Baby Yoda unscripted DGA anthology serial killer scary movies canceled TV shows Turner Classic Movies Ovation reviews Amazon witnail Kids & Family Thanksgiving Warner Bros. Premiere Dates YouTube Premium Pop Teen Rocky Holidays adaptation finale 71st Emmy Awards TLC Toys discovery thriller disaster 2016 casting Masterpiece Super Bowl Comics on TV aliens NBC Music Hulu Infographic ratings facebook halloween cancelled TV series game of thrones SundanceTV APB VICE spain Writers Guild of America ghosts tv talk FXX nature name the review Awards Tour universal monsters vampires dramedy Funimation Adult Swim TNT franchise Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sitcom Spectrum Originals Columbia Pictures Comedy Central mockumentary Hallmark Christmas movies American Society of Cinematographers Certified Fresh First Look Grammys Ellie Kemper Podcast TCM FOX IFC Films zombies travel foreign Biopics technology TV ITV Apple TV Plus See It Skip It VH1 dragons Sneak Peek Mary Poppins Returns Epix OneApp CBS All Access E! BET Fall TV Black History Month psychological thriller X-Men medical drama war Musical Action Holiday TruTV History Polls and Games MCU YouTube Britbox cancelled Film Festival Cartoon Network sports Christmas animated 2020 biography Pirates christmas movies BBC America boxoffice screenings Horror NYCC supernatural robots Character Guide GLAAD Lionsgate historical drama game show TV renewals kids video Apple TV+ Opinion Mystery canceled politics Trivia miniseries Black Mirror Western Sony Pictures TIFF award winner Acorn TV Awards rotten movies we love anime USA Disney Plus Spike Video Games Rock composers Marvel Studios Amazon Prime Video crime Hallmark cults ABC Family Quiz zombie ABC Nat Geo directors Academy Awards Cosplay Women's History Month adventure crime drama spanish language movies Family DirecTV Marvel Heroines blockbuster Nickelodeon festivals talk show LGBT Emmy Nominations Superheroe Martial Arts green book RT History MSNBC docudrama Film The Arrangement Song of Ice and Fire Vudu MTV Bravo theme song Star Wars Disney+ Disney Plus GoT CW Seed Chernobyl Elton John independent television richard e. Grant Year in Review book natural history Superheroes diversity spinoff HBO Max Mindy Kaling Arrowverse documentary Cannes movie Paramount true crime PBS Rom-Com Creative Arts Emmys comic Photos TCA Country Binge Guide 20th Century Fox YA Television Academy Rocketman based on movie werewolf Emmys Endgame space police drama cinemax indie breaking bad toy story 21st Century Fox binge Freeform free movies Disney streaming service Nominations Peacock Comic Book Shudder Drama Disney Channel Lifetime Christmas movies Calendar President BBC Interview Shondaland Sci-Fi science fiction GIFs Classic Film SXSW Lifetime spy thriller cars Set visit The Purge renewed TV shows Turner TCA Winter 2020 A&E slashers HBO Mudbound revenge romance stand-up comedy TV Land versus quibi cooking Syfy Valentine's Day Star Trek Dark Horse Comics LGBTQ DC Comics Ghostbusters Crunchyroll Musicals E3 Pet Sematary Universal zero dark thirty San Diego Comic-Con PaleyFest Sundance Lucasfilm joker Pixar Tumblr 007 what to watch sag awards FX on Hulu Anna Paquin jamie lee curtis justice league cats batman singing competition golden globes Discovery Channel Tubi Reality sequel Esquire Captain marvel The Witch cancelled TV shows cartoon Mary Tyler Moore First Reviews Sundance TV hist Netflix Showtime Food Network Schedule crime thriller Tarantino Election