Elizabeth Olsen writes letters to her future self

Elizabeth Olsen and Josh Radnor star in "Liberal Arts," in theaters now.

For someone who hails from a Hollywood family, you’d expect Elizabeth (Lizzie) Olsen to have some modicum of pretension about her. Older sisters Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have after all created a fashion empire, part of which bears her name (clothing line Elizabeth and James, after herself and their brother). But when this Olsen enters the room at the Crosby Street Hotel in New York, she settles into a chair, peeling off a blazer because, “you can’t see sweat stains anymore” and smiles at us while her publicist cringes.

Short-listed as one of the top rising stars of Hollywood, Olsen has received heaps of praise for her role in last year’s dark cult film, “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” But it wasn’t until the script for writer, director and actor Josh Radnor’s film “Liberal Arts” came across her desk that Olsen had felt as though she had arrived.

“‘Liberal Arts’ became the first movie that I actually made the choice to do, whereas all the other movies that I’ve done were all like ‘thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me a job,’” the actress admits. “So ‘Liberal Arts’ is like, starting movies where I was like ‘oh, I think I’d like to do that.’”

In the film, Olsen plays a wise young co-ed who falls for Radnor’s character, Jesse, someone 17 years her senior. He finds her at his old alma mater where in part, he returns for the nostalgia for a better time in his life. Interestingly, the 23 year-old actress seems to have a keen awareness of aging herself.

“I write letters to myself for the future,” she says. “I read one from when I was in 7th grade to my graduating senior high school self and that was so crazy, because you feel like you’re in a parallel universe where little you is still existing and you’re talking to older you and you guys are existing at the same time, it’s really crazy.”

As for Olsen’s future, expect to see her in upcoming dramas “Therese Raquin” and “Kill Your Darlings.” She also confirms the filming of Spike Lee’s latest film, the thriller “Old Boy.” But she likely won’t be having her parents come for a set visit.

“My parents were shaking their heads when I told them what I have to film,” she says with a laugh. “They always want to come and visit and I’m like ‘I don’t know, depends what we’re filming that day. Could be really violent, I could be getting raped.’”


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