Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen began their career as infants, and never really slowed down. In 2002, when the twins were only 16 years old, Fortune reported them as "the most financially successful child stars ever." The sisters’ success was so pervasive that their team founded a production company (Dualstar) just for them in 1993, which is said to have generated $500 million in retail sales in 2001 alone.
By the early ’00s, they had their own fan club, dolls, countless movies and even a TV show. Despite their astronomical success, however, the twins pretty much dropped off the face of the earth in recent years — so much so that an exhibit titled ‘Olsen Twins Hiding From the Paparazzi’ opened up in New York City. So what’s this secretive duo been up to? Here’s why you never hear from the Olsen twins anymore.
They haven’t been on screen in years
We first met the Olsen twins as infants when they shared the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House from 1987 to 1995. And while most child stars’ popularity slowly fades out, the opposite happened for Mary-Kate and Ashley. Before they all but disappeared from the public eye as adults, the two starred side-by-side in a handful of feature films, made-for-TV movies and even had their own television show, So Little Time, from 2001-2002.
It wasn’t long after that show that Ashley had her last big credit in 2004’s New York Minute. Mary-Kate carried her acting success out until 2011, appearing in a few episodes of Weeds in 2007 and finally alongside Vanessa Hudgens in 2011’s Beastly.
In 2012, the twins confirmed to Elle UK that they had pretty much retired from acting altogether.
They passed on Fuller House
Netflix rewarded Full House fans in 2016 with the reunion show, Fuller House, which began airing on February 26 that year. The entire cast returned — except for the Olsen twins. About a year before its release, the Olsen twins played dumb about the revival; "We just found out about it today," Mary-Kate told WWD in April 2015, which didn’t quite sit well with co-star John Stamos.
Of course, the cast couldn’t go without acknowledging their absence. In the pilot episode, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) explains to the family, "Michelle sends her love, but she’s busy in New York running her fashion empire," as the cast shares a deadpan, Office-esque look at the camera.
When asked about the twins not returning to the show, Dave Coulier (Joey Gladstone) told Entertainment Weekly, "I think they have a different perspective. When we get together and we reminisce, they were babies. So they don’t share those same memories."
Meanwhile, Candace Cameron Bure, who plays big sis DJ Tanner, is sick of talking about them altogether. "Stop asking us about Mary Kate and Ashley! There are no hard feelings at all, but let’s just move on," Bure told Glamour. "It’s been two seasons already. If they show up, great, but if they don’t, we have this awesome, amazing show that the audience isn’t missing anything because it’s so full as it is."
Mary-Kate spent time recovering from an eating disorder
Spending your entire childhood in the public eye cannot be easy, and often child stars don’t make it through to adulthood without any severe personal issues. Just take a look at the mugshots of former child stars like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and read stories of rehab attendance from Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.
For Mary-Kate, weight became an issue, and she reportedly attended rehab in 2004 for an eating disorder. "I think it’s really important to be able to talk when something’s wrong," she told Marie Claire in 2010. "I learned at a really young age that if you don’t talk about it, it can drive you insane."
Mary-Kate was connected to Heath Ledger’s death
In 2008, Heath Ledger’s masseuse found him dead in an apartment in New York City. As reports of his death began to circulate, somehow Mary-Kate became involved. At first, it was reported that Ledger was found in Mary-Kate’s apartment; but according to Access Hollywood, Ledge was not in Olsen’s apartment — rather, the masseuse who found Ledger’s body apparently called Mary-Kate before calling the police, citing that she was on speed-dial on Ledger’s phone. "Mary-Kate and Heath were casually dating for three months before Heath’s death," People reported a source saying.
To make the situation even more bizarre, Mary-Kate reportedly would only cooperate with the federal investigation into Ledger’s death if she was granted immunity, according to People. The case was dropped shortly thereafter, but details of Mary-Kate’s involvement remain a head-scratching mystery.
They’re behind the scenes in the fashion world
Just because Mary-Kate and Ashley aren’t working in Hollywood, doesn’t mean they’re not working at all. In fact, they currently own two fashion lines, Elizabeth and James and The Row. "I’ve always been a worker," Ashley told Net-A-Porter’s magazine in 2017. "It has taken me a lot to figure out how to take a vacation." As for whether or not they’ll ever return to the big screen, Mary-Kate told Marie Claire in 2010, "I still read scripts, and if something great comes along, that’s great." However, she said that heading up their fashion lines is her "day job."
They’re not on social media
These days, being active on social media is key to relevancy. However, Mary-Kate and Ashley are extremely protective of their privacy, and neither have any type of public social media accounts. "We don’t dive into that world; we don’t have Instagram or Facebook," Ashley told Net-A-Porter’s magazine in 2017. "We’ve stayed quite sheltered." The duo didn’t share their first public selfie until 2016, when they took over Sephora’s Instagram account to promote their Elizabeth and James line.
They hated being famous
The Olsen twins spent every waking moment of their childhood in the spotlight, which we can only imagine is incredibly taxing. "I would never wish my upbringing on anyone," Mary-Kate told Marie Claire in 2010. The two literally never had a chance to be normal people, but instead grew up as a commodity. In 2002, when the twins were 16, their manager Robert Thorne told Fortune, "They are a property now, aside from being people with a heartbeat." In 2007, Mary-Kate told Entertainment Weekly that their career "wasn’t about acting" at all. "It was about entertaining a specific audience," she said. "It was about pleasing other people and making kids smile."
Mary-Kate is married
Apart from totally hating the spotlight, both Mary-Kate and Ashley are busy nurturing relationships. In 2015, Mary-Kate married Olivier Sarkozy, the half-brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in an (unsurprisingly) private wedding. According to Page Six, all guests had to turn over their phones before entering. Guests were also treated to "bowls and bowls filled with cigarettes," which, okay!
In any case, Mary-Kate’s personal life is keeping her fairly busy. "I have a husband, two step-kids and a life," Mary-Kate told Net-A-Porter’s magazine in 2017.
As for Ashley, she was most recently linked to another older dude, financier Richard Sachs; however, according to Us Weekly, the couple split in March 2017 after five months of dating.