Elizabeth Olsen on Mentoring MCU Newcomers and What She Loves About Scarlet Witch (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
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Following her Emmy-nominated performance on the Disney+ limited series, WandaVision, Elizabeth Olsen is reprising her role as Wanda, who has now become the Scarlet Witch, in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The latest sequel marks her seventh onscreen appearance as the troubled Avenger since she first made an uncredited cameo at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Since then, Wanda has gone through quite an evolution, with the series showing the depths of her pain over losing Vision (Paul Bettany) and then her two kids, Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne). In the new film centered around Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the unexpected arrival of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) as the two go universe hopping, Wanda is still reeling from her short-lived experience as a mother and is determined to find a time and place in the universe in which they all can be together.
While her goals put her at odds with Strange, who is on his own journey of learning how to be a team player, it allows Olsen to capitalize on the many layers that lead Wanda to identify as the Scarlet Witch and battle with the notion of being seen as mom or monster.
“I really loved being called someone’s mom. That’s a thing I didn’t know about, but I’m called it a lot,” Olsen tells ET’s Will Marfuggi, adding, “I loved playing her tone, her soul, her anger, her love.”
She adds, “I really loved her and I fought for her.”
While it’s hard to talk about the specifics of her journey without giving too much of the film away, Olsen says that when it comes to Scarlet Witch’s choices in Multiverse of Madness, “she’s justified in everything she does, which makes her the hero of her own journey.”
“I defend her through and through,” she continues.
As for the film itself, which is written by Loki creator Michael Waldron and directed by Sam Raimi, it goes to some unexpected places -- quite literally at times -- and leans into different genres, particularly horror. “There were certain things that Sam Raimi was having me do and I was like, ‘Really?’” Olsen recalls. “But we were leaning into this genre a bit with Sam’s eye.”
And because of that, it was an opportunity to revisit elements of Wanda not seen since Age of Ultron. “I keep trying to incorporate parts of the Korean horror genre that we built into her -- like, her physical language -- as much as possible,” she says, excited that she was able “to lean into it a bit, and with Sam” at the helm.
The latest sequel also allowed Olsen, who’s now the most senior woman in the MCU following Scarlett Johansson’s departure, to help introduce another newcomer to the MCU. It was something she first got to do on WandaVision, when Teyonah Parris was cast as Monica Rambeau.
“She and I spoke about the journey ahead when she knew that she was going to move on to The Marvels. So, I talked to her about it,” Olsen says, before going on to explain that Gomez, who was excited to work alongside her, “doesn’t need any advice.”
“But I did let her know that Marvel’s really collaborative,” she recalls. “And they’re really curious about what you want to do, and what you love most about the comics. If you have any ideas, and to honestly share them, because there’s no harm in it. And for her to know that’s genuine.”
Olsen adds, “But she’s more prepared than I was, so she’ll be fine.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now in theaters.