Over the past few months, I’ve been posting a number of on-set interviews from Avengers: Age of Ultron. That’s because almost a year ago when the movie was filming outside London, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. During a break in the production, I got to participate in an extended group interview with Elizabeth Olsen. She talked about working with Joss Whedon, Scarlet Witch’s powers, her costume, her accent, working with Aaron-Taylor Johnson, and so much more. Click here you’d like to listen to the audio of this interview. Otherwise the full transcript is below. Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1st. Like you didn’t know.
Question: Could you talk about your Eastern European accent?
ELIZABETH OLSEN: Can I talk about it? It’s something we got to create because it’s a make believe place. So it’s something that Aaron [Taylor-Johnson] and I with the dialect coach got to create together.
What’s the name of the fake country?
OLSEN: That I can’t talk about. But I got to make it up, so yeah.
How are we introduced to your character?
OLSEN: I think you’ve already been introduced. The most beginning you will see is what’s in the end of Cap 2. There’s definitely a connection that is very evident, yeah.
Is that pretty much the costume you have for the whole movie?
OLSEN: Well, no. For the film, that world is very specific so it’s almost like hospitalish, and the way that we designed costume and character is based off of these two kids being on their own and using whatever they can to their best ability. Like if they see a street vendor, they just grab something off the street vendor, so it hints to Eastern Europe but it’s also kind of this gypsy, vagabond feel as well.
In some of the original drafts of Godzilla, your character and Aaron’s character were brother and sister. When that switched, had you guys already talked about doing this together?
OLSEN: When we were talking about the brother –I think we weren’t part of the brother/sister conversation for Godzilla. They just told us that they weren’t sure if they wanted them to be brother and sister but they’re pretty sure that they want them to be married and they’re pretty sure that they’re gonna give them a kid [Laughs]. That was the information we got and that’s where we basically started and we didn’t know about Avengers until after we finished filming Godzilla, which was kind of funny.
The comfort level of you two working on this film seems clear. Did you guys come up with something else pretty good?
OLSEN: Totally. I mean, if you look at the comics the two of them are always so close to each other, the proximity. Their comfortability around each other is so specific to the rest of the group, and so it’s nice to know Aaron and also nice to have a friend when you’re joining such a big project like this, with potentially intimidating people. So it’s been really nice to have Aaron and it is nice to feel like we have this –Like, they have their movies but we had a movie too it’s just not that one [Laughs]. So there’s that kind of teammate feel.
What were some of your first meetings with some of the other cast members, did they kind of give you any insight of what would change with joining this universe?
OLSEN: The first person both Aaron and I got to work with was Jeremy Renner because we were shooting in Italy, as everyone has seen, and he’s so straight about how this is gonna go. These were the first days of shooting the cast, I think, and it is the most waiting I’ve done on a film, so that kind of keeping that energy up is really difficult. You get on set and you have to have one thing that you hook into to remind yourself to give you that energy and the drive of your character. Just talking with him was interesting and fun and I still enjoyed working. I mean, everyone that we’ve met it’s just been –Everyone is so nice. I was ready for like maybe some sort of diva, there’s none of that at all on this set. All the actors are unbelievably fun and giving and kind, and it’s amazing.
Do you have a favorite Avenger?
OLSEN: I’m kind of digging what I get to do and I’m really excited. Well, my favorite –Just as a fan– was Iron Man. Those are my favorite films, and that’s how I got into the Marvel world and becoming a fan myself. I wouldn’t mind continuing to do this for quite some time because I’m having so much fun working on Scarlet Witch/Wanda, she’s so awesome. I think Joss [Whedon] is excited by her also, and so the two of us kind of dork out a bit and it’s pretty fun.
Just going of what we saw in Cap 2, what’s the relationship like between Wanda and Baron Von Strucker, is that something that continues throughout the film?
OLSEN: It’s something people will learn later. It’s kind of what is there, I mean, it is what it is.
Is he mystic, or do they share similar ideas, can you give us anything?
OLSEN: No, I think there’s a bit of all of it, you know. It’s interesting. I don’t know what I can tell.
In that scene at the end of Winter Soldier we see the character manipulating objects with telekinesis and then today we learned that your character can get in the minds of people. Can you talk about the ability and power set of this version of Wanda?
OLSEN: Yeah. So, I am able to go into someone’s head and make them see their almost like –I can feel and see what they feel and see, so it’s not just manipulating them. But what I love about her is that in so many superhero films emotions are kind of negated a bit but for her everything that someone else could feel, like their weakest moment, she physically goes through that same experience with them, which is pretty cool. So if they have a biggest darkest fear, I could see that.
So like shoot thing, or control things?
OLSEN: Yeah I can control energy. I can manipulate energy. So that’s what the red stuff is that we’re playing with.
Can you talk about just coming up with the physicality, how do you play those things?
OLSEN: It’s been so fun because you can’t be like, ‘Well, how does this magic witch hero move?’ There’s nothing physically that you can just reference from dance, martial arts, or anything like that. So we started off with Joss kind of having these ideas based off just images in the comics of what the hand gestures look like or the arms look like. And then I worked with a dancer, Jenny White, she’s a dancer and so the two of us get locked up in a room together and we move and we try and figure out what looked strong or where the energy comes from. But also in the film I get to have a journey of discovering how powerful she can be, in a way. So we gotta start somewhere, we gotta figure out what all those different levels are. But it’s funny because everyone’s doing like stunt practices and choreography and everyone’s getting beat up, and she and I are just doing weird moves and pretending like we’re making things shoot out of our hands [Laughs]. I can’t get injured that way and I feel not as tough as everyone but it’s super fun.
OLSEN: It is, it’s so playful, and I danced growing up so it’s nice to have be able to have some sort of creativity in movement and a say in it. It’s pretty awesome.
Can you talk about just having this amount of power and it’s a lot to take in somebody’s deepest, darkest fears. When they’re not leveled does she try to maintain a level of sanity?
OLSEN: Well, I think that’s what’s so awesome about the trajectory of where she could go, potentially. But I think in this film it’s just the beginnings of everything, it’s all just starting.
That’s kind far because in the comics she does get really powerful to the point where.
OLSEN: She can destroy everyone.
Yeah. So in this one are you still kind of learning to use your powers or have you gotten used to them?
OLSEN: No, we made the decision that she’s already been able. Because we played with the idea of how much can she do yet in the beginning of the film, and at first it was like not much. But we’ve kind of decided to have her hone in to understand some sort of strength to her abilities. But then they do grow, there’s definitely a sense of confidence that she knows what she’s doing from the start.
Can you get into the Avengers’ heads, have you filmed the scenes with everyone, do you get into everyone’s heads?
OLSEN: Can I say that? Yeah, I can do that. I do that to everyone.
Does that include robots?
OLSEN: I don’t think so. I don’t think that includes robots.
Have you filmed the scenes with the cast already?
OLSEN: We just filmed an awesome scene where we’re basically all in one room the last few days. It’s been so cool. Aaron and I were kind of like, ‘This is amazing. I can’t believe they have all these people in one room, and they can all be in London’ But yeah, we did that. That was more of like a talky scene, and it was a lot of fun.
Do we get to see any interaction, or relationship building between Wanda and Vision (Paul Bettany)?
OLSEN: Umm, I think they’re both being introduced in this film. I think if you’re like a big fan and you know what happens, maybe you’ll start putting in your own interpretation on to things. But other than that it’s just everyone is kind of being created and born. All these new people are being added in a way.
Is there humor with your character? Because she seems kind of dark.
OLSEN: I think there’s humor with her brother, I think there’s a lot of humor there. Jeremy Renner’s character is hilarious for some reason to me [Laughs]. He’s like a big grump, he’s really funny, he’s always complaining. But the humor that I have would be more like being the –Because I think that Quicksilver/Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), his energy, we’re like Ying and Yang almost and I think that interaction to me is funny. But it’s not funny, I’m not saying like funny [Tony] Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) lines, but.
What was it like being Joss’ female hero?
OLSEN: Well, you feel like you’re in good hands and the cool thing is that he hasn’t been able to create these characters. He’s been given them from other directors or writers from their other franchises and he’s been adapting, taking what has already been created and serving them in Avengers. And in this he’s able to create Wanda and he’s such a huge fan of her and it’s really awesome to get to have that. I think he’s enjoying also having the experience where he gets to create it, because he’s such a fan of creating these strong, amazing women. There’s obviously Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) but it’s nice to have another strong presence. Usually I haven’t been around when Scarlet was working, so I kind of feel like the only female most of the time and it’s nice to have a stronger presence, instead of a weak one, or like an office one or something.
Does she tangle with Widow at all?
OLSEN: A little bit, a little bit. We got to work a little bit together.
What was your reaction when you saw what your costume would be like?
OLSEN: Well, the first thing Joss ever said to me before I even got the job when we were first meeting, he said, ‘When you look at the images, look at the comics, know that we are not making you look like that. You will not have to wear bathing suits or look like a porn star’ [Laughs]. So that made me feel great and then Alex [Alexandra Byrne] –who’s our costume designer– is really clever in being able to take the images and the iconic ideas of these characters and these comics on these cartoons, and adapt them to some sort of modern day world. Like how would it actually exist but still make it feel like it’s not of this world in a way. So I’ve been totally loving it and I love all of my costumes, and I love all the details. There were so many little pieces and they’re all so unique and I think it all just adds to their journey as these twins, together.
So many of the films you’ve done before now, that you’re known for, are smaller films in comparison to the size of production. Is there really any difference between the processes or is it just the scale?
OLSEN: Yeah. No, there’s a huge difference. Massive difference. It’s really interesting because you get to learn a different way of working. Like, I like having all the structure. I’ve always enjoyed having tons of structure because then you can be as free as you want within it, and in this it’s like you have that structure and everything is in Joss’ head or Kevin [Feige]’s head and everyone has figured out how this is gonna go. It’s almost like a cartoon before you get there. So you have to bring just humanity and life and your own personal interpretation of everything. But it’s not like you can decide, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go walk over and touch that thing across the room’ You can’t do that, there’s like six cameras set up. So it’s totally a different way of working but you have to be so specific and you just have to do it right when they give you the opportunity because you don’t have a lot of opportunities because they have to keep moving with all the other set-ups. And then when you do something smaller it’s like you’re getting to exist in a room with one camera guy and do that kind of a dance.
Joss is known for altering, tweaking dialogue on the day in the scene, has he done anything drastic with any of your dialogue or any of your stuff?
OLSEN: No, and if there are –I mean, we’ve had like script changes where we’ll come on to set shooting a scene and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, by the way, we’ve added a scene right before this’ and you’re like, ‘What?’ and then that scene changes your whole opinion of what your about to shoot, but that’s ok. You can change your mind really quickly [Laughs]. So that’s the only thing but not –Maybe intentions have changed while we’ve been shooting as the script has been changing, but nothing that you ever feel unprepared for.
Do Wanda and Pietro have any direct relation to Ultron [James Spader] other than he drags them to the fight with him or is that something that comes together later?
OLSEN: I think our relationship to Ultron will not be shared [Laughs].
So there is a relationship, you just can say anything.
OLSEN: I mean, there isn’t.
Does she having the ability to see somebody’s fear, does she also have the ability to see sort of their future, whether they’re good or bad after a relationship with them?
OLSEN: Well, I think they way I’d like to answer that is that I think we can know so many things about someone but not know maybe what they’re capable of in terms of being bad or good. And I think everyone has maybe good intentions but they do bad things. So she can’t, I don’t think anyone can differentiate that.
When you were first meeting with Joss and talking about costume ideas, when he was pitching the character to you, did he pitch you like an overall plan saying, ‘Here’s some things that’s gonna happen over the course of this characters’ life’ or is he just like, ‘Here’s what I’m gonna do with this one’?
OLSEN: No, it was more like ‘Here’s what we’re gonna do with this film’ and the while we’ve been on set I just like making jokes like, ‘Wouldn’t that be awesome if this happened too, later, at a different time’ and that’s about it [Laughs]. Because the world that she almost creates on her own in the comics is just so awesome and I’m sure it’d be so fun to play but I would love to do more.
Here are some more on set interviews from Avengers: Age of Ultron:
- Chris Evans Talks Avengers: Age of Ultron from the Set of the Marvel Sequel
- Jeremy Renner Talks Avengers: Age of Ultron from the Set of the Marvel Sequel
- Chris Hemsworth Talks Avengers: Age of Ultron on the Set of the Marvel Sequel
- Joss Whedon Talks Hesitation to Return, New Additions to the Team, Collaborating with Marvel, and More on the Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Robert Downey Jr. Talks Ultron, The Vision, Finally Getting to Know Joss Whedon, Tony’s Evolution, and More on the Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron