Elizabeth Olsen, 23, grew up in the shadow of half-sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley. And then, with one Sundance film, "Martha Marcy May Marlene," she proved she was the Olsen with serious acting chops. In her other Sundance film, the scary "Silent House," which opened this weekend to a respectable $7 million, she plays the central blond screamer, trapped in a shuttered country home with her bickering father and uncle.
"Lizzie" talked to Yahoo! about what terrifies her ("Them") and what excites her about the future (more work, lots more work, including Robert De Niro's paranormal thriller "Red Lights").
Thelma Adams: What scares you in a movie?
Elizabeth Olsen: I'm more terrified by the things you don't see, a presence that feels like it's there. For instance, my favorite recent horror movie is the French film "Them." It's the same concept: a stuck-in-a-house story. You basically see this couple running around this house and it's so terrifying but you don't know what's after them. And, finally, "they" break into the home. And they're wearing all black. In the end of the movie, it's just some children trying to mess people up.
TA: Did you grow up loving scary movies?
[Related: See showtimes for 'Silent House']
EO: Growing up I would sneak movies we weren't supposed to see when my friend's parents were asleep. We'd see "Children of the Corn," we'd see "Carrie."
TA: What about at home?
EO: Our favorite movies as kids -- Trent, Mary-Kate, and Ashley and me -- were "Arachnophobia," "Tremors," or "Jaws." My brother Trent is the reason I like horror movies. Because he likes them, so he would have me watch them with him.
TA: I like watching horror movies at home, but they're better in a theater full of strangers. Do you agree?
EO: Even though ticket prices are expensive, people like to see horror together to jump and scream.
TA: Was there ever a moment during shooting "Silent House" that was terrifying?
EO: Nothing scary happened. One time a lamp almost hit someone in the head.
TA: Almost, huh? Sounds terrifying! Any challenges?
EO: We would do 12-minute chunks every day; we broke it into 13 shots...
TA: Because, technically, it was supposed to seem like one continuous shot, right?
EO: Well, then we did reshoots and changed the amount of shots. But, we shot in order. If we were doing shot seven, and at six, I had stopped being disturbed to a certain degree, I had to start at seven at the far end of six. Continuity of emotions is difficult to match. Sometimes the makeup department would have to put glycerin, or gloss, under my nose, so that I would look like I was snotting again, like in the last shot.
TA: Was it a challenge to be in almost every frame of the film?
EO: It was really exhausting and there was no real holding area ever. I had to find peace on a staircase.
TA: So, no trailer, huh? That's about to change, right?
EO: My next film, "Red Lights" with Robert De Niro, has a much bigger budget. I was like, "Wow, I can't believe I'm staying in this nice hotel in Barcelona and flown in on this nice airplane, and having my own trailer." It was smaller, sure, but I felt lonely: "Why do I have to hang out in here? Does someone want to hang out with me?"
TA: You were hanging out with a pretty elite crowd during awards season, when you spent a lot of time on the red carpet, and there was even Oscar buzz. Did all the attention so early in your acting career surprise you?
EO: It's so insane, and I obviously had no expectations. I didn't know what it was like to make an indie movie and the difficulty getting it distributed. I think it was an unrealistic experience of a movie coming out. The guys who made "Martha" have now become my closest friends. It was the most pleasant thing to work on, to travel to fests, and to travel with my friends.
TA: What had you starred in before "Martha"?
EO: I didn't even do a "Law & Order" before that! It's so ridiculous and I couldn't be more thankful for those guys who, against their financiers' judgment, cast me in their movie.
TA: While you didn't get that Oscar nom, you did get nominated for best actress at the Indie Spirit Awards. How did that feel?
EO: I was so ready for Michelle Williams to win. I literally enjoyed it so much more because I hate talking to a room of people. I just enjoyed everything so much more with that mentality.
TA: You became friends with "The Descendants'" Shailene Woodley during awards season, right?
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EO: It's not like we call each other on the phone, but every time, we found each other in a room, and Adepero Oduye from "Pariah," too.
TA: What are you psyched about in the future?
EO: In the near future, I want to continue to do jobs that creatively and personally stimulate and challenge me. Life is a roller coaster: ups and downs, hits and misses. As long as you have an intention, you can make those types of choices. I understand that it's a business, and someday I will have children, and a mortgage. Right now, I enjoy being able to pick things for totally creative reasons.
See the trailer for 'Silent House':