Elizabeth Olsen, sister of the Olsen twins: This year’s Sundance ‘It’ girl?


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Every year, the Sundance Film Festival seems to unearth an ‘It’ girl: She’s the one with a number of films premiering who transforms overnight from an unknown to an up-and-comer.

A couple of years ago, that girl was Carey Mulligan, then a little-known British actress whose turn in the indie film ‘An Education’ went on to earn her an Oscar nomination.


This winter? Everyone in Park City seems to be buzzing about Elizabeth Olsen, the 21-year-old younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley whose only prior film credits include appearing alongside the twins in some of their children’s films back in the 1990s. It appears, however, that she’s studied acting seriously, having attended both New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School.

Olsen -- who goes by Lizzie -- appears in two films at this year’s festival. The first, a horror film called ‘Silent House,’ played to a full house of press and industry folks after midnight on opening night. In the movie, the actress plays a young woman fixing up her family’s old home with her dad and uncle -- before long, she starts hearing noises and seeing visions. Suffice it to say, things get bad.

Olsen’s other movie, ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ (say that twice), premiered Friday at the Eccles Theater and stars Olsen as a girl who escapes from a cult and finds refuge with her sister and brother-in-law at their yuppie lake house.

On Friday, Olsen shuffled between screenings of both films (‘Silent House’ was shown again later after its midnight debut), and was asked by audience members how her Sundance indoctrination was going.

‘I’m really excited, and I hope the two movies promote each other,’ she said, beaming.

More daunting than your world acting debut? Keeping up the hysteria required to last throughout an entire film like ‘Silent House,’ she said.

‘It was so exhausting,’ she admitted. ‘I got bad migraines from crying too much, and sinus infections from all the snot.’

--Amy Kaufman


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