Last week I got to talk to Elizabeth Olsen for Taylor Sheridan’s new film Wind River. The film marks directorial debut of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter (Hell or High Water) and follows a wildlife officer (Jeremy Renner) teaming up with an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) to investigate a murder on a Native American reservation. It’s a powerful conclusion to Sheridan’s “frontier trilogy”, and I definitely recommend checking it out when it comes to a theater near you. Click here for my full review from Sundance.
During my conversation with Olsen we talked about what appealed to her about this character, how she prepared for the role, what it was like shooting on location, how it compares to filming on set, what it was like reteaming with Jeremy Renner, and more. She also recalls what it was working like with Renner on her first day on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Check out the full interview below. Wind River is now in limited release.
ELIZABETH OLSEN: There’s quite a bit that’s appealing when you read it, comparison to the majority of scripts that I end up reading. It’s an opportunity to play a part that I would never foresee myself having written for me, to be able to just develop more skill. It’s kind of a terrifying thing to approach because there is a part of you that has to believe that you have the confidence or the ability to not distract an audience into believing that you are capable of being this, to having this profession. I loved the script so much and I was really scared that people see me holding a gun or walking, and be like, “She doesn’t walk or shoot a gun like it’s someone who should,” and so I just focused a lot on the physical aspect.
I trained a long time, I think it’s like six months, or three months of the gun and six months of self-defense and grappling and three months training for gun work with a former law enforcement officer. Then I did gun work in Utah with a former Green Beret. Just being around those kinds of men and hearing their stories and understanding the experiences they’ve had, the loss that they’ve had, their relationship to the government, their relationship to politics, to corruption, helped inform everything about the character, so it’s really starting there and working my way in.
Your character comes from a really interesting place because she’s not like a total neophyte but she is completely unfamiliar with the situation she finds herself in.
OLSEN: Yeah, and I think also, it’s the audience’s perspective, which is, especially an American perspective. We grow up knowing our own history but not understanding an entire culture of people that are our neighbors. We don’t know much about what it’s like to live on reservation, we don’t know that there’s discrepancies between reservation, federal law, in order for the reservation system to fail. It’s just she is a fish out of water, but she’s not because she’s just like an ignorant person, she just is a part of the system that we’re all part of and she tries to do her best within the world that she’s in. She is smart enough to realize her own limitations and reaches out to other people for help, like Jeremy.