Elizabeth Olsen: Monster Memories
By: Lynn Barker
Young actress Elizabeth Olsen might be best known to kids and teens as the younger sis of the famous Olsen twins Mary-Kate and Ashley but she is making her own mark on the film world in smaller but well-reviewed indie films like the R-rated Very Good Girls co-starring with Dakota Fanning.
In the new Godzilla film, Elizabeth plays Elle Brody, wife of naval officer Ford Brody (played by very hot Aaron Taylor Johnson) who disarms bombs for a living! The couple, plus 4-year-old son Sam (newcomer Carson Bolde) reunite in San Francisco where Elle is a busy nurse. When Ford is called away to help his dad in Japan, Elle is left to fend for herself and her son when Godzilla zeroes in on San Fran! (Interesting note: Aaron and Elizabeth also play twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in the next Avengers movie Age of Ultron due out in spring 2015).
Elizabeth has said that Elle’s story is heroic. She has a job to do but is desperate to protect her child. The mother and son have a story and her husband Ford has his own struggle to get back to them. That human element in a big monster pic is what Elizabeth loves about the movie… that and the cool monsters and effects.
Kidzworld: When working with a lot of effects and a monster that wasn’t really there, did you do a lot of takes on each scene? Was this your first time doing a film with computer effects?
- Elizabeth: We didn’t do so many takes. You have the luxury of doing lots of angles (on each scene). I never felt that odd or out of place. I think my two biggest challenges were, one, working with young Carson and then the technical aspects of working with special effects and the timing and camera movements and still finding the freedom in that. Those were the two things I learned on this job.
- This was my first time. It was just the eye-line and imagination. It’s such a different world. It’s so crazy. You are reacting to something that isn’t there. (What I realized I needed) in doing a big special effects movie like this is the childhood imagination you have to have a rooting it in such reality but from a child’s point of view almost.
Kidzworld: Can you talk a bit more about working with 4-year-old Carson? Did you bond a bit?
- Elizabeth: Yeah. Actors have told me how difficult it can be working with a young child. We didn’t have a six-year-old playing 4 years old. We had a (real) 4-year-old. Carson’s mother and I started e-mailing before we started shooting. I’d go to the parks in Vancouver with him. He’s a very open child so it was very easy to connect with him. We just played a lot. I think (co-star) Aaron did the opposite because he doesn’t get to see him often. It’s a lot of improvising but I would love to do it again. It keeps you on your toes. The child’s work is always going to change and there is nothing to rely on to be set each time. It’s really fun.
Kidzworld: You come from mostly small indie films. What has it been like meeting classic actors and filmmakers who work on these big epic movies?
- Elizabeth: It’s been amazing to do group interviews with people who are a different generation like Bryan (Cranston) and Ken (Watanabe), especially from Ken’s point of view. The way he talks about Godzilla (THE original Japanese movie monster) with so much love. It’s so much a part of his country’s culture, so much more so than with an American culture. With Bryan, it was his favorite thing as a kid. I didn’t grow up with a generation that loved Godzilla. I loved Star Wars. That was my Godzilla I guess.
Kidzworld: How do you feel about being part of a legacy? There have been Godzilla movies since the original 1950’s ones the Japanese produced.
- Elizabeth: It’s really a part of history, especially for this film because we are being supported by Toho (studios, the original film studio producing the classic Godzilla movies). It has been collaborative and we are respecting the origin; the reason it was made to begin with. I feel our film is empowered with that knowledge.
Kidzworld: What is it like playing husband and wife with Aaron in Godzilla then having to play brother and sister in the next Avengers movie?
- Elizabeth: It’s awesome. We only had a few scenes together for this film but we spent time together in Vancouver and I got to know his family. To play a really tight twin brother and sister (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) it’s really lucky that it’s not with some guy I just met. I think we both like the fact that we have Godzilla, this other film in our repertoire.
Kidzworld: How do you prepare for a role like this? Did you go back and watch all the other Godzillas and with Avengers, did you go read the comic books?
- Elizabeth: Gareth (the director) would say “If you want to see a Godzilla film just see the 1954 original”. Preparation for this film was largely just making sure that the family wasn’t too stereotyped but broad enough because it needs to be to reach a world-wide audience but also specific and rooted and grounded with a relationship you can get behind.
- With “Avengers” for me, it was just throw it all in. I’m still reading comics and I love looking at fan pages. A comic book character, that’s something else. I’m the first human interpretation of The Scarlet Witch. You want to be able to honor comics and fans but bring your own thing to it. So, that’s been a really fun process. It’s awesome because she’s dope! I’m terrified of Marvel so I can’t say anything about her.
Kidzworld: You do a lot of drama. Are we going to see you in a happy-go-lucky comedy role?
- Elizabeth: I love comedies! I love rom-coms and even bad ones. I’ve looked for them and have been talking to the right people. The hard thing for me is I look my age or younger and a lot of times the roles are late ’20’s, early ’30’s for these great comedies so it’s hard for me to play opposite to men in their late ‘30s. Oh well. I’ll grow up one day.
Kidzworld: What was it like seeing the final Godzilla film all put together?
- Elizabeth: It was amazing. I was so shocked. I feel like I’m usually pretty distant and critical when I’m watching a film I’m in but I don’t play such a huge role that it’s distracting. I got to sit and relax. I really cared about the characters and the world and them figuring this thing out. I loved getting to watch what the other actors were doing and how it translated from the script I read to being on screen. I wasn’t there for much of it. Seeing the monsters was wild and amazing. I really loved it!
Godzilla is in theaters May 16th!