If there were two child stars that totally dominated the 1990s, they were Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The twin sisters were in television shows and movies — and even had dozens of their own movies they starred in themselves. They were adorable as little kids, and, as the Olsen twins grew up in front of the eyes of the nation, they only got more gorgeous and talented. But, for as ever-present as the Olsen twins were throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, they kind of disappeared for a while.
Seriously, the sisters both had such promising careers and had already built a huge empire, so where did they go? Or, more importantly, what really happened to the Olsen twins? As it turns out, you have to look at their entire career and what they’ve done since then to actually understand what happened to them. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen aren’t your regular former child stars, and that’s what makes them so interesting.
This show was the Olsen twins’ big break
When you think of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, you probably think of the cute little girl on that one family-friendly sitcom, and you wouldn’t be alone in that. The Olsen twins got their big break on Full House, the adorable sitcom that premiered in 1987 which told the story of the Tanner family, who had recently lost their wife and mother, leaving father Danny Tanner to raise his three daughters. Though the sisters were only babies at the time, they stole the show. And, because the twins were so young, they didn’t have much of a say about whether they wanted to do the job — according to In Touch Weekly, they landed the roles accidentally after their mom sent their photos to a friend of hers, who just so happened to be a casting director!
Following Full House, and as the Olsen twins got older, they capitalized on their success by appearing in movies and eventually starring in their own film collection. The show definitely made the rest of their careers possible, but because they started as babies, they were practically always in front of a camera growing up, which couldn’t have been easy.
The Olsen twins created an empire out of straight-to-VHS movies
If you grew up in the late 1990s or early 2000s, then chances are you watched at least one Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie. Whether they were going to grandma’s house, having a sleepover, or jetting off to Paris, the Olsen twins starred in a total of 36 movies that went straight to VHS so fans didn’t have to waste any time in seeing them.
The movies were seriously fun to watch, especially for young kids. As the Olsen twins grew up over the years, the themes of their movies also got more mature, meaning that an entire generation of children felt like they grew up with Mary-Kate and Ashley. The movies were the crux of the twin’s careers, and they practically built an empire out of them. In fact, they owned their own production business, Dualstar, which was behind all the films. So, yeah, it’s safe to say that the Olsen twins’ empire was built on the straight-to-VHS movies of your childhood, and that’s pretty impressive.
The Olsen twins didn’t enjoy their childhood in the limelight
Though Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen grew up not wanting for anything and likely being fawned over by everyone who met them, their childhood wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Between working all the time, having cameras constantly pointed at their faces, and so much more, the Olsen twins definitely didn’t have a typical childhood. Specifically, they might have hated it — at least one twin did.
In an interview with Marie Claire, Mary-Kate explained that she didn’t exactly look back on her childhood with fondness. On the contrary, she said she felt like she and Ashley were "little monkey performers." And that’s not all. "I look at old photos of me, and I don’t feel connected to them at all… I would never wish my upbringing on anyone." Clearly, the Olsen twins’ upbringing was a lot darker than anyone thought, and there’s a reason they don’t love being famous anymore. In fact, Mary-Kate is so private she’s not even on social media.
The Olsen twins had family drama when they were young
To look at Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in the early days of their careers would incite jealousy in just about anyone. After all, they were rich and famous and so young! They looked like they had it all. But, in 1996, it was announced that the twins’ parents were splitting up, which would be difficult on any young children, but especially Mary-Kate and Ashley, who had to deal with all of it while the world looked on. And while In Touch Weekly reported that the divorce was due to the pressure of the Olsen twins’ careers and that one of their parents wanted the fame to end, it’s unclear exactly what happened.
Their dad, Dave Olsen, told Entertainment Weekly that it wasn’t as dramatic as it seemed. "The reality is that the transition has been very smooth," he said. "Everyone sees eye to eye. The girls are fine." Still, a divorce isn’t easy for anyone, let alone two girls who had already amassed a huge following at such a young age. With all that family drama, it’s no wonder the Olsen twins didn’t want to stay in Hollywood forever.
This was the Olsen twins’ last movie filmed together
As any Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan can tell you, as the twins got older, their movies started to revolve around different locations. There was Passport to Paris, and, of course, Winning London, as well as the Sydney-based Our Lips Are Sealed. Each movie saw the girls head to a different city, and, in 2004, that city was New York. But as it turned out, New York Minute was actually their last movie ever filmed together.
In an interview with New Zealand’s Holmes (via E! News), Ashley Olsen explained that the movie felt like a good place to stop, as it actually premiered in theaters. "We had done straight to videos for so long and [New York Minute] was a bigger movie and it was a great family film and it was something we wanted to accomplish before we went off to college," she said. Ashley also added that she wasn’t sure if it would be their last movie together, but it was. All good things must come to an end, it seems, and the Olsen twins were soon off to college in a New York minute.
The Olsen twins amassed a fortune
It would be easy to assume that the Olsen twins are worth a lot of money, with all their success starting at such a young age. But just how much are they worth? Well, a whole lot. And even when they were just kids, they were already millionaires.
According to Forbes’ 2007 ranking of women in media, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen ranked No. 11 among the richest women. "At age 20, the fraternal twins preside over the tween retail empire Dualstar Entertainment Group," Forbes stated. "Established in 1993, it sells $1 billion worth of merchandise worldwide a year." But that’s not all. Back in 1996, Entertainment Weekly reported that the then-9-year-olds were already worth $10 million. And, according to Celebrity Net Worth, that number has only grown over the years as they are worth a combined $500 million as of 2021. It’s pretty safe to say that the Olsen twins have never really struggled for money, but, hey, they’ve worked hard for it.
The Olsen twins disappeared for a while
After Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen wrapped filming on New York Minute, they both began attending New York University in 2004. It was obvious that the twins really just wanted to take a step back from acting and the spotlight and just be normal teenagers for a bit. And while they both eventually left New York University after less than two years, it’s still obvious that they were over being famous.
In fact, in an interview with Elle, Mary-Kate Olsen explained that she didn’t really enjoy the spotlight anymore. "It’s weird to be called a celebrity or talk about it," she said. "I don’t talk about being a celebrity in my business meetings. I don’t talk about it with my friends. It’s not a part of my life." Being child stars was overwhelming for the Olsen twins, and after college, it was clear that the pair were both over it. So, they laid pretty low and avoided the paparazzi for a while, practically disappearing from public eye. And, really, who could blame them?
Both Olsen twins left acting
For people who built their empires on their own acting skills, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen haven’t acted in quite some time. And there are some good reasons for why they’ve left acting behind.
In an interview with Elle U.K. (via HuffPost), both Mary-Kate and Ashley explained why they wanted to be done with acting altogether. "I don’t have to be a pretty face," Ashley said. "I’ve done that, but now it’s important and liberating to be on the other side of the lens. I don’t like to be the center of attention anymore." Mary-Kate, on the other hand, continued acting for a little while after Ashley quit, appearing in Weeds in 2007 and the movie Beastly in 2011. Still, she also called it quits shortly after and told Elle U.K. that it "just felt right to move away [from the spotlight]." The Olsen twins may have had a knack for acting, but that doesn’t mean they enjoyed it.
The Olsen twins launched a new kind of career
After spending their entire lives in front of the camera, it made sense that both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen would want to spend some time behind the lens making more creative decisions. And while they didn’t get into filmmaking or producing, they did launch a new kind of career with the start of their fashion lines in 2007, as noted by Entertainment Tonight. The Olsen twins started two lines, The Row and Elizabeth and James, and have been successful with each ever since.
In fact, in 2019, the pair announced that their lower-cost line, Elizabeth and James, would be carried at Kohl’s department stores. So, if you’ve ever wanted to dress like the Olsen twins or support their fashion endeavors, then head to Kohl’s! Some of the fashions that Mary-Kate and Ashley wear might seem far-fetched, but there’s no denying that they both possess a certain sense of grace and beauty, and that easily translates into their designs.
One of the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate Olsen, got married
After leaving acting and most of their fame behind, the Olsen twins were finally able to really grow up and be themselves. Though they might be perpetually seen as cute little kids in the public eye, they’ve both seriously grown up over the years, and Mary-Kate Olsen, in particular, has led quite the love life. In fact, she even got married in 2015.
Yes, the former child star married her boyfriend of three years, Olivier Sarkozy, at an intimate ceremony and reception in New York, according to Entertainment Tonight. Sarkozy, a French banker, and Mary-Kate had reportedly been planning their nuptials for a while before they tied the knot. Though she was pretty quiet about her relationship and wedding, Mary-Kate was obviously pretty smitten with Sarkozy, and getting married proved just how far she had come since her child star days. From crying on a sitcom to marrying a banker, Mary-Kate Olsen’s life took some wild turns.
Ashley Olsen’s love life has remained private
While Mary-Kate Olsen got married and seemingly found her forever love (more on that later), her sister, Ashley Olsen, was still looking for a while. However, in 2017, she was linked to an artist named Louis Eisner, and they’ve reportedly been happy together ever since.
Obviously, Ashley and Eisner didn’t go out and flaunt their relationship all over town, leading some to believe that they were trying to hide it. However, a source told Radar Online that that wasn’t the case. "It’s not that they are trying to keep their relationship on the down-low, Louis just doesn’t like the spotlight — even less so than Ashley," the source explained. Clearly, the two care more about each other than what the public thinks of them or anything else, and that’s pretty sweet. Moreover, as Radar Online reported, they were moving in together at the time, and the source close to the couple confirmed, "They’re very much in love." Ugh, so sweet!
The married Olsen twin, Mary-Kate Olsen, experienced a rough divorce
Though Mary-Kate Olsen married Olivier Sarkozy, the pair weren’t meant to last. According to Vanity Fair, the separation kicked off in 2020, and it was a doozy. Sarkozy invited his ex-wife, their children, and his mother to come stay with him and Mary-Kate — all in the same house — at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Maybe French people culturally have a different view of marriage, and while Mary-Kate loves his children, it was too much to have his ex-wife living with them during the pandemic," a source told Page Six. "Would you want the ex-wife living with you for an unforeseeable amount of time in the middle of a crisis?" Yeah, you can’t really blame Mary-Kate for wanting to end things with Sarkozy, but things didn’t exactly get any easier after she made that decision.
Mary-Kate lost her bid for an emergency divorce petition despite her claims that Sarkozy was attempting to kick her out of their New York apartment in the middle of a pandemic. Yeah, things got messy for her.
The Olsen twins’ younger sister is an acting superstar
Most people know that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have a younger sister. But for some people, it took seeing the hit Disney+ series WandaVision to realize that Elizabeth Olsen was that sister. And, as it turns out, her sisters’ careers made a huge difference in Elizabeth’s life.
In an interview with Parade, Elizabeth explained that watching her sisters be such huge child stars kind of turned her off from acting at a young age. "I did that for three months of my childhood, but it wasn’t worth it to me to work for a living," she said of her short-lived acting stints as a kid. "What I saw my sisters do was work, not play, and I really enjoyed ballet, and I really enjoyed playing sports. It took away from that experience." While Mary-Kate and Ashley had a tough time growing up in the limelight, they might have at least saved their sister from going through the same pain at too young of an age, and that’s pretty special. Big sisters really do always look out for their little siblings, don’t they?
The Olsen twins remain super close
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are identical twins, and, as such, likely have a super close relationship. But, as is the case with most siblings, you might expect them to have drifted apart as they got older and started their own individual lives. With the Olsen twins, though, what you assume is usually never the case.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal (via Entertainment Tonight), Ashley explained that no matter what, she and Mary-Kate were always going to be close. "It’s been 32 years of learning how to communicate," she said, adding that their relationship was like "a marriage and a partnership. We have had ups and downs." Ashley also added, "We do everything together," and Mary-Kate agreed, "We came out of the womb doing that." The twins have always been close and will likely always be close. Their bond is stronger than almost anything, it seems, and they’ll always have each other’s backs no matter what they end up doing in life.