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With a list of credits three times as long as her short career, it’s easy to forget that Elizabeth Olsen made her acting debut just four years ago. She was honored for her body of work with the Hollywood Rising Star Award at the Deauville Film Festival on Wednesday night.
This year’s Cannes best actor winner, Vincent Lindon, was on hand to present her with the award.
After a long descent down the auditorium stairs to the stage, a nervous Olsen told the audience she is not very good at walking in heels and terrified of speaking in public, and read off written remarks. Olsen cited Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall as an inspiration to an aspiring 15-year old, and now that she has been successful she hopes to continue in her footsteps.
“[Keaton could] be so honest that humor and fear and joy and vulnerability and intelligence and naivete could coexist. Today my goal is to play and create those kinds of women, women that actresses like Diane Keaton have inspired me to play. Women that do not conform to a type or a box, complex women,” she said. “I really love my job a lot, and I can only hope I get to continue to be a part of this world for many, many more years.”
Ryan Gosling, Paul Dano and Jessica Chastain have previously been honored with the award.
Sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the day, Olsen cited fellow Avenger Scarlett Johansson’s career as a model, for her ability to effortlessly switch between big blockbusters and intimate indie films. Part of Olsen’s strategy is to avoid paparazzi — even if that means forgoing trips to the farmers’ markets in L.A. since they have become an unexpected target — to staying off social media.
“It’s a weird thing for my ego. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling to me. I guess some people like to be in control of it, but they way I control it is to completely distance myself from it,” she said, similar to her peers Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence.
She also cited The Lobster as her big regret so far in her short career. “It was a conflict with Avengers and that was a really huge heartbreak because I was already under contract,” she said.
As for The Avengers, she recently wrapped the latest installment in the superhero series, and is eager to work on a small film again. Between the two, she’s filmed the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light with director Marc Abraham and co-star Tom Hiddleston. Her approach to the character was as one of the unconventional, complex women she has been inspired to play, even though Audrey Mae Williams is not remembered fondly by her contemporaries.
“Not many people say good things about her, so it was my goal to basically be her lawyer and defend her and [show that] she had a tough situation. I had a lot of fun just giving her so much compassion. I think that comes across and you don’t come across as hating her,” she said.
“I have realized that characters I prefer to watch and prefer to play are maybe not the greatest of people, but you still somehow as an audience member want them to succeed and you want good for them. You don’t have to want to be their friend, but you just hope that things work out for them.”
As for the challenges that face aging actresses in Hollywood? She hasn’t had to face them in her short career, she says, and that her youthful looks have actually worked against her when, as a 26-year old, she’s paired with a “mid-30s leading man” and has caused her to be passed over for parts. “This is going to sound so weird,” she said. “But I can’t wait to look older because I’ve kind of looked the same for 10 years and that’s not a good thing. That’s OK because maybe it will work out later. I do feel like the roles that I find to be most interesting are women that are in their 30s and 40s.”
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