THE FREE SPIRITElizabeth Olsen
By Merle Ginsberg and Laurie Sandell
Elizabeth Olsen didn't set out to become an indie darling. "I didn't really have another option—those were the jobs I was getting," she says. Good thing for her, because the 25-year-old, so mesmerizing in 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene, has earned the kind of critical praise that actors dream of. "I feel very lucky that the reviewers have been on my side, even when it comes to a project that isn't so great," Olsen says. "I was seizing every opportunity. I'm not embarrassed by my work in them or anything—it's all learning."
Subsequently, she's landed two huge commercial movies, Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which she's filming now, and Godzilla, opposite critics' pets Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, and Sally Hawkins, opening May 16. "The cool thing is the studio pieces I have been lucky to become a part of are ensemble pieces, so it's not like I have this Hunger Games on my back. It's not going to skyrocket one person; it's a team thing."
At Broome Street General Store in Silver Lake, near where the actress is crashing with her fiancé, model/actor Boyd Holbrook, Olsen goes unrecognized. With her long, wavy blonde hair spilling out of a watchman's cap, holey J Brand jeans, and oversize Theyskens sweater, Olsen (Lizzie to her friends) could be any other hipster at the tiny outdoor coffee shop. And she prefers it that way: "I definitely know what kind of lifestyle I want to have. Some people recognize you for your work, not for being pictured going to clubs. So, I try and keep that kind of profile that people know you from your work and that's it. There are some jobs that I've said no to, because I know what kind of attention they will bring. I choose not to have that specific kind of attention."
Though her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, named one of their fashion lines Elizabeth and James (which happens to be the given name of their brother), she insists she's not their muse: "God, no. I just try and see what they do and copy them like the rest of the world does." So that Olsen name—boon or burden? "Everyone has their hurdle to get over, and if mine is that I have to [prove] I've earned my jobs, I'm OK with that," she says. "I'm in it for a ride, and I'm in it for the long run." We're happily going along for the ride. —Laurie Sandell
PROVENANCE: Sherman Oaks, CA
CURRENT RESIDENCE: NYC
BIG BREAK: Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
SEE HER NEXT IN: Godzilla, out May 16
WHO KNEW? While a student at New York University, she worked as a licensed real estate agent for two summers.