Elizabeth Olsen established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry after landing the role of Wanda Maximoff (a.k.a. Scarlet Witch) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Popping up in movies like 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, she also landed a show alongside Paul Bettany (who you might know as Vision) when their WandaVision series premiered in January 2021. However, while seeing Olsen onscreen may give you a glimpse at her talent, it doesn’t mean that you truly know who she is.
"Marvel films don’t often go hand in hand with low-key actresses," according to Harper’s Bazaar UK, but as the outlet also noted, "Elizabeth Olsen is an anomaly to the formula." Indeed, the actor backed that up while explaining, "If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with going to the gym or doing some sort of workout, then I’d go to the grocery store because my favorite thing to do is grocery shop." Um, ok. Perhaps she gets a little wild when the night rolls around? Nope. "The night before I would have prepped bread, like dough, then the next day I’d bake bread and create a delicious meal, sit outside in the sun, eat delicious food all day with people I love."
That may not be the kind of life you’d expect from an up-and-coming Hollywood star, but it turns out there are plenty of things about Elizabeth Olsen that might surprise you.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen aren’t Elizabeth’s only siblings
Even if you’re not the biggest Marvel movie fan or haven’t seen Elizabeth Olsen in her other notable roles, there’s still a good chance that you know that she is the younger sister of former Full House child stars and famous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The youngest of the sisters is willing to open up about her life with her successful celebrity siblings, whether she’s admitting that she copies their style or sharing the professional advice they’ve given her.
However, there’s more to the family than just these three stars. Born to personal manager mom Jarnette and real estate developer/mortgage banker dad David in Sherman Oaks. Calif., along with her older sisters, Elizabeth also has an older brother, James Trent. On top of that, the three have two younger half-siblings. The stars’ parents got divorced in 1995, and their half-siblings, Courtney and Jake, are their dad’s kids with second wife McKenzie Olsen, according to Cosmopolitan.
Elizabeth talked about growing up with her siblings during a January 2021 interview on Lorraine (via the Daily Mail), saying, "It’s definitely not a lot of people’s average childhood, but I don’t know if any of us look back at our childhoods and think of any of them as average." That may be true, but not all of us grew up with twin sisters who were among the most famous children in show business.
Elizabeth Olsen’s mom and dad weren’t typical stage-parents
While you might imagine that Elizabeth Olsen’s mom and dad, Jarnette and David Olsen, were hardcore stage-parents — considering both she and her siblings, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, got into show business early on — she says otherwise. Think about it: While other parents are famous (or, rather, infamous) for how involved they are with their kid’s career, you probably hadn’t heard of the Olsens’ parents before today.
"My parents had very little to do with my sisters’ job really, at least not after getting them that first job," Elizabeth once said, according to The Guardian, perhaps somewhat surprisingly. Noting that her sisters have been in control of their own careers "since they turned 18," she explained that her mom and dad "always did what they could to hook them up with the right people to handle things," which apparently included "managing assets and running production companies and so on." However, she added, "They never pretended they could do it well themselves." In Elizabeth’s opinion, that was "a good thing," because "nothing’s worse than stage mothers."
Elizabeth also told Nylon that her parents aren’t the type of people to force their kids to do something that isn’t right for them: "What’s really cool about my parents is that … if you change your idea of what you want to do it doesn’t matter as long as you give it your all." It certainly sounds like Jarnette and David know how to be supportive without being pushy.
Elizabeth Olsen was in multiple Mary-Kate and Ashley productions
Getting into show business can be a difficult endeavor for many young performers. Of course, it might be a little easier if your older siblings happen to be famous. That seems to have been the case with Elizabeth Olsen, who appeared on Full House, which her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, starred on as children. If you want to watch the specific episode that Elizabeth popped up on, then check out "Michelle Rides Again: Part 2," which aired in 1995, per IMDb, and featured the younger Olsen in an uncredited role as "Girl with Flowers."
While Elizabeth’s Full House gig may not have been the biggest role, that wasn’t the only time she was given a job in one of her sisters’ productions. Growing up, she nabbed minor gigs in the Olsen twins’ many "straight-to-video tween-pics," according to The Guardian. Elizabeth talked about the experience, saying, "Oh, I really got to exercise the acting muscles there — you can’t imagine the awesome thespian demands on the kid playing Girl In Car in How The West Was Fun!" Elizabeth added that her "biggest scene was getting bubblegum out of [her] hair!" Oh. Ew.
Granted, Elizabeth claimed that she has "never got any job because of [her] sisters" (…er, other than the ones we just mentioned?). Although she did admit, "I could have pulled a few strings through them, but I never needed to." Fair enough!
Elizabeth Olsen almost retired from acting when she was 10
Elizabeth Olsen may be a star nowadays, but she almost left the entertainment business behind when she was still young. Frankly, she almost quit her acting career at an age when many others haven’t even gotten theirs started.
Back in 2001, Spy Kids was released and featured young actors Alexa PenaVega and Daryl Sabara in leading roles, per IMDb. While anyone who’s seen the movie would likely agree that both child stars nailed their performances, it turns out that Olsen could have been one of those stars. However, she didn’t quite put in the effort that was needed to potentially land the gig. During an audition for the film, Elizabeth "[lied] to the director," saying "that she had read the script," according to Nylon. She recalled, "I hadn’t — it looked like the biggest thing I’d seen in my life." Not only did she not get a job offer, but she was also "chastised by her ballet teacher for her casual work ethic," per the outlet. As a result, Elizabeth made a decision and had a conversation with her father. "’Dad, I want to stop acting,’" she recalled. "I had only been on four auditions!"
While Elizabeth’s dad was willing to accept his daughter’s early retirement, he also wanted her to think it through. "He was like, ‘OK, write a list weighing the pros and cons and make your own decision.’" That was definitely a way to respect what she wanted, even though, as she explained, "I was 10!"
Elizabeth Olsen used a different last name while in high school
These days, Elizabeth Olsen has no problem being associated with her famous sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. However, she once thought that a name change might help her stand on her own. "In high school, I thought I’d go by the name Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name," she told the Sydney Morning Herald (via SF Gate). "I knew I was always going to be introduced as ‘the sister of’ and I have no control over it."
According to The Sun, Elizabeth also revealed that she thought using her middle name as a professional last name would be the way to go. Explaining her reasoning, she said, "I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion. The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work."
Yet, Elizabeth eventually had a change of heart. "Once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now." That makes sense since she can definitely stand on her own nowadays. In fact, the public now tends to forget who she’s related to. When Elizabeth’s Marvel series premiered in 2021, one fan tweeted, "I love seeing Elizabeth Olsen getting recognition for WandaVision but it’s funny cause I forgot for a sec the twins are her sisters — OF COURSE SHES GONNA KICK A** AT SITCOM HELLO."
Elizabeth Olsen’s acting career didn’t get off to a smooth start
Elizabeth Olsen’s successful acting career is a lesson in perseverance. If you asked the star, she’d likely tell you that you can’t give up on your dream just because it doesn’t start off the way that you had hoped. She has firsthand knowledge of that thanks to the fact that she wasn’t accepted at Brown University, a.k.a. her top college choice, according to Vanity Fair. But she didn’t give up on getting an education in her chosen craft, and studied at New York University instead.
Things didn’t seem to go any better when Olsen went through another early rejection, when she wasn’t cast for Shakespeare in the Park. She admitted that it was "the first job [she] didn’t get that [she] really wanted."
However, just because things weren’t exactly going Olsen’s way when she first started out didn’t mean that things didn’t work out in the end, because other opportunities were out there, and she was willing to go after them. Vanity Fair noted that "because she did not book [the job with Shakespeare in the Park] (after going through four rounds of auditions), she was able to take a part in the indie film Martha Marcy May Marlene in 2011." That may not have been the biggest movie that she has ever been a part of, but the "role — as a woman who escapes from a cult — earned Olsen many film critics awards, and it set her career in motion."
Elizabeth Olsen studied in Russia
Elizabeth Olsen may have been born and raised in the United States — however, before she left school behind, she decided to leave her home country behind for a time. Vanity Fair explained that she studied at the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute Moscow Art Theatre during a semester abroad in Russia. The program’s website page notes that students are offered "daily movement and acting classes," which "are complemented with design, voice, Russian language, and Russian theater history." A part of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, this "developmental theater" proudly claims Olsen as an alum along with other stars like Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Krasinski, Jennifer Garner, and Michael Douglas.
For Olsen, it was an experience that may have helped her put on a Russian accent when she first showed up as Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff. Granted, you may have noticed that Scarlet Witch lost her accent as time went on.
While Olsen might not have needed her ability to speak with a Russian accent for her long-running gig within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the star’s time in Russia and familiarity with the language also apparently helped her learn how to swear in Russian. That was something that she was willing to demonstrate for Conan O’Brien and his viewers while sitting down for an interview in September 2018. She also admitted to enjoying vodka, which might have loosened her tongue enough to use those Russian swear words while abroad.
Elizabeth Olsen has a love of travel
Considering Elizabeth Olsen studied abroad, it shouldn’t be surprising to find out that, as she admitted to Architectural Digest, "I really love, love, love traveling." While talking about "a 16-day trip through Portugal and Spain" that she embarked on in 2019, she said, "It was just my favorite thing to relax and do and learn and explore and experience. I really love the feeling of being isolated, especially in a place where I don’t speak the language."
When asked by AD if she is someone who plans every aspect of her trip or if she’s "a wanderer," Olsen explained, "I have been both people." Noting that the trip she had just taken "was really about relaxation and not feeling pressured to do anything after just working as a producer and actor in Sorry for Your Loss," the multi-talent also admitted that she does "love having an itinerary though." Olsen added, "I love making sure that there are certain museums I get to go see, or pieces of art that you wouldn’t want to miss in certain cities. And restaurants are a really, really, really important thing for me."
Olsen has also talked about her "absolute favorite vacation," which she told Departures "is Italy, from Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast (my favorite hotel in the whole world is Le Sirenuse in Positano." Talking about her "love [of] Northern Italy," she said she adores "the people, the food, the service," as well as "the smells and all of the tastes." Andiamo!
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen named their clothing line after Elizabeth Olsen
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen may have been actors when they were younger, but as they got older, they decided that their passion lay on the fashion side of the industry. Indeed, Town & Country notes that "the twins went from Full House to fashion royalty." While that has included various clothing lines throughout the years, one in particular has a connection to their sister, Elizabeth Olsen.
First hitting the market in 2007, the older sisters named their line after their younger siblings, Elizabeth and James. While you might expect the brand to embrace the twins’ signature "boho-chic" style, the website instead explains that it "[began] with a design concept focused on the wardrobe for the modern woman," before it grew into "a multi-category lifestyle brand rooted in effortless dressing and vintage inspiration." It also "embodies a relaxed approach to dressing with a playful and sophisticated sensibility."
In March 2020, the brand surely thrilled fashionable fans — at least, the nearly 300,000 that follow the line on Instagram — when, as Good Morning America reported, "After a much-anticipated wait, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen … released their clothing line at Kohl’s." The collection offered "more than 150 styles to choose from" and might have something for you if you’ve been looking for items with a "new vibe," something that is "cool + casual," or a piece that is "feel-good + fun." They surely have the perfect thing for your next #OOTD!
Elizabeth Olsen’s charity work
Elizabeth Olsen isn’t only focused on succeeding in Hollywood, she’s also focused on giving back and doing what she can to help others. In order to do just that, she supports organizations like OXFAM, the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation (EBMRF), and Equality Now, which is "an international human rights organization dedicated to women’s and girls’ rights," according to Look to the Stars. In 2016, Olsen attended its third annual fundraising gala, "Make Equality Reality," alongside other charitable celebrities, such as Lily Tomlin, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Reiser, Melanie Griffith, and Ruby Rose.
Olsen opened up to InStyle in 2017 about another well-meaning organization that she’s gotten behind, The Latitude Project. Those who participate in the project aim to improve the living conditions of others by "choos[ing] a different community to partner with" every year "on a big initiative, which could be anything from building a preschool to improving access to latrines."
Explaining her own experience working with the group in Nicaragua — which "is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere" — Olsen said that founders Jenn and Alanna Tynan "were working with impoverished local communities that needed infrastructure support." The star continued, "So I went with them to visit these areas and ended up volunteering in a school to repair desks and update the athletic equipment." Olsen also joined them in San Juan del Sur, an "area [that] didn’t have any electricity," which is why they "distributed solar lights." Obviously a bright spot in Olsen’s efforts.
Elizabeth Olsen is rich (but not nearly as rich as her sisters)
Elizabeth Olsen can certainly consider herself to be a successful Hollywood star. Not only is she on her way to becoming an A-list celebrity, but she’s also rich. Just how rich is she? Well, her fortune sits at $11 million, as of this writing, according to Celebrity Net Worth. While that’s definitely impressive, it’s nowhere near what her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, are sitting on. They reportedly "have a combined net worth of $500 million." Yeah, that’s obviously ridiculously impressive!
While there’s clearly a massive gap when it comes to who’s banking what in the Olsen family, everyone is doing pretty darn well for themselves. That’s why, when you add all three siblings’ fortunes together, the total puts them on the list of "the richest celebrity sisters," according to Bizwomen. The Olsens can enjoy that financially-based honor along with other wildly wealthy siblings, such as Venus and Serena Williams, Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, and Bella and Gigi Hadid. The Kardashian-Jenners were also included, which makes sense considering there are five of them and they’re all money-making machines.
As for the Olsens, we have no doubt that they’ll be on that list for years to come, considering Mary-Kate and Ashley are bringing in big bucks thanks to their work in the fashion industry. Similarly, Elizabeth Olsen’s fortune will surely continue to rise along with her fame.