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The ‘WandaVision’ episode that made Elizabeth Olsen feel like a failure

Elizabeth Olsen uses her powers as Wanda Maximoff in a scene from "WandaVision."
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in “WandaVision.”
(Marvel Studios)

As Marvel’s first TV series for newish streamer Disney+, “WandaVision” has been heralded for its clever homage to the medium itself, referencing sitcoms of eras past and near-present.

It was a master class from the start, with the first two episodes featuring influences from TV classics such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “I Love Lucy” and “Bewitched” in its fantasy-like look at the happily married life of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). But Olsen, who’s had to maneuver through difficult action sequences as Wanda on the big screen, quickly realized that being convincing in this ’50s TV universe wasn’t so black and white.

“I really didn’t understand intuitively how to play to the camera and not the audience with the audience there,” Olsen said. “And so when I watched that episode, I’m like, ‘God, it’s like I’m like a child at theater camp in this. I’m really playing to the audience.’ But then I remember that they kind of did have an element of playing to the audience in ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’ ... It really just felt like it wasn’t an easy transition. It was just like, bam! And you’re just there and you’re failing in front of people.”

It didn’t hurt to have a costar like Kathryn Hahn, who played the heavily meme-ified nosy neighbor/villain Agatha Harkness, to help bring some levity to the set, according to Olsen.

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“We were rehearsing for the live show for the ’50s episode and she was bringing in all these groceries into my kitchen and she had like a carton of fake eggs,” Olsen shared. “They’re all rubber eggs. And it dropped to the floor and she goes, ‘Oh, my jade egg!’ Just without missing a beat.”

Listen to “The Envelope” to hear the rest of our interview with Olsen, including the moment she knew “WandaVision” had captured the zeitgeist and how her work in the Marvel universe has sharpened her focus on the projects she does outside of it. And if you’re a local listener searching for new spots to visit as a semblance of normal life resumes, Olsen, who grew up in the Valley, shares her love for the Joint Eatery in Sherman Oaks.

If you like learning more about what went into the making of some of the most talked-about movies and TV shows of the moment, check out our past conversations with “Mare of Easttown” star Kate Winslet, “Pose” showrunner Steven Canals and “Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung. Upcoming interviews include John Boyega for “Small Axe” and Barry Jenkins for “The Underground Railroad.”

Subscribe via Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes post every Wednesday.

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