Elizabeth Olsen is one of creative leaders honored for Variety’s 2022 Power of Women presented by Lifetime. To read about her work with the Rape Foundation and Stuart House, click here.
When audiences last saw Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Disney’s May box office juggernaut “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” it certainly looked like Olsen’s time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was over. Definitively, actually: An entire castle collapsed on Wanda, a building brought down by her own powerful magic after she sacrificed herself to destroy the Darkhold — the evil book that had corrupted her, turning her into a nearly unbeatable villain for most of the movie.
For Olsen, 33, who burst into the movie world with 2011’s Sundance Film Festival sensation “Martha Marcy May Marlene” — and saw her profile skyrocket as Wanda (aka the Scarlet Witch) in six Marvel movies, starting with a mid-credits cameo in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and later the hit 2021 Disney+ TV series “WandaVision” — the character’s heel-turn into darkness took some adjustment. “Well, this is quite a leap from the woman that I’ve been playing!” she remembers thinking after learning she was to go malevolent in the Sam Raimi-directed sequel to “Doctor Strange.”
But she got into it. “At least in my experience, it’s been hard as a woman to express rage,” Olsen says. “It’s one of the most amazing feelings, because it’s so specific: You can know exactly why you’re angry.”
Over a long lunch on an unbearably hot September day near her home in Los Angeles, Olsen — who radiates tranquility — doesn’t disclose what makes her feel rage. “Oh, those are fun secrets to keep,” she says with a smile. “But I do have rage. I feel like the moment you, as an actor, reveal things about yourself that are kind of your ‘fuel,’ for lack of a better word, then your fuel’s exposed and it means less.”
In her years in the MCU, Olsen’s Wanda has lost her parents, her brother, her husband and her two sons, all of whom exist somewhere in the multiverse. She’s got a lot to be angry about. According to Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, Olsen’s skills are why Wanda’s arc has been so complex. “We only even would have dared attempt something like ‘WandaVision,’” Feige says, “because Lizzie is such an outstanding actor.”
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Variety is pleased to announce the honorees for its upcoming Power of Women issue and event on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The event, in partnership with Lifetime, celebrates the Power of Women honorees, who will appear on the cover of the issue, as well as the women profiled in the publication’s annual Women’s Impact Report, which highlights the top women working in entertainment.
This year’s honorees include Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, who will be speaking about the importance of celebrating women and sharing their stories, as they do in their eight-part Apple TV+ documentary series “Gutsy,” which premiered on Sept. 9; Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, who will highlight the importance of hiring female directors as they did throughout the production of “Queen Sugar” currently airing it’s seventh and final season on OWN; Extracurricular Productions president and the world’s youngest Nobel laureate Malala, who will be speaking about young people in film and television and supporting the Pillars Artist Fellowship; and award-winning actress, producer, and star of Marvel’s WandaVision and this summer’s blockbuster “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, Elizabeth Olsen, who will be speaking about her support of the The Rape Foundation/ Stuart House. The program will be hosted by Megan Stalter, the breakout star of “Hacks”.
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, was chosen as one of one of this year’s stellar honorees. The Duchess’ cover will be postponed to a later date, out of respect for the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Similarly, she will not attend the Power of Women event in Los Angeles later this month.
As part of the evening, Lifetime will debut this year’s Stop Breast Cancer for Life PSA, featuring music icon Patti LaBelle in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The PSA spotlights the statistic that Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer than any other group and urges all women to get their mammograms as early detection helps save lives.
As a Premiere Partner, Google will present the Social Impact Award to Jacqueline Martinez Garcel for the impact she has made as the CEO of the Latino Community Foundation, an independent statewide foundation with a mission to invest in Latino leaders throughout California.
“We’re excited to once again put the Power of Women spotlight on groundbreaking and accomplished female leaders,” said Variety’s co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton. “We’re honored to salute those who are making a difference for equity, inclusion and excellence in our industry and making an enormous difference in the wider world through their philanthropic efforts. We’re grateful to Lifetime for their unwavering support of this franchise that is a labor of love for everyone at Variety. This year’s gathering under the stars at the Wallis promises to be another can’t-miss night.”
“We are honored to continue our partnership with Variety to showcase these incredible women that continue to entertain us, enlighten us and empower us,” said Amy Winter, EVP and head of programming, Lifetime & LMN.
Premier sponsors include Google and DIRECTV. The official sponsor is City National Bank.
Exclusive, curated gift bags will be given to honorees and guests at the event with entertainment, beauty, health and fashion products from companies including DOG PPL, Sunday Riley, Ouai and Goop. Additionally, Variety‘s 2022 Women’s Impact Report Honorees will be gifted a custom bracelet courtesy of Kendra Scott.
The Portal to the Multiverse is now open, and Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is officially in theaters! 🌀
With the Multiverse unlocked, master of the mystic arts Doctor Strange journeys into the unknown with mystical allies both old and new. One of those allies is fellow Avenger, Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch.
Coming off the heels of last year’s hit sensation, Marvel Studios’ WandaVision, actress Elizabeth Olsen can’t help but be in awe of the woman Wanda Maximoff is now. At a press conference for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness earlier this week, Olsen commented, “In the previous films before WandaVision, I took up a lane for storytelling that was more grounded in sincerity, love, loss, grief. And with WandaVision, I got to become anything and everything, and really, really grow [Wanda] into a woman.”
“And leading her to [accept] that she is this mythic woman,” continued Olsen. “That is her destiny. And I hope that in this film people see that continuation of her acceptance of who she is, the journey that she has taken to get to this moment. I feel like she has way more clarity now than ever in this film.”
When posed with the scenario of who would win in a battle between the two sorcerers, Doctor Strange or Scarlet Witch, Olsen cheekily responded, “Well… I think we all know who would win.”
Titular star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange, chimed in, “She’s pretty all-powerful, let’s be honest,” before adding, “Oh, I’ve got an id. I have humility. I can accept that.”
Will it all come to a head in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Head to the theaters and find out now!
In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, with Michael Stühlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. The film is directed by Sam Raimi, and Kevin Feige is the producer. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Eric Hauserman Carroll and Jamie Christopher serve as executive producers. The screenplay was written by Michael Waldron.
SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses major plot points of Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” currently in theaters. Do not read until you’ve seen the movie.
Practically from the moment that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that Elizabeth Olsen would star in the Disney+ series “WandaVision,” he also made clear that the events of that show would tie into Olsen’s subsequent appearance as Wanda Maximoff in the feature film “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
What Feige did not reveal — and what Disney carefully obscured in its marketing for the film right up to its release in theaters — is that Wanda doesn’t show up as Strange’s compatriot in “Multiverse of Madness”: She’s the villain.
At the end of “WandaVision,” Wanda fully accepts her identity as the Scarlet Witch, one of the most powerful wielders of magic in the universe. But she also has to release her grip on the town of Westview to free its citizens of mind control. In doing so, she abandons her children Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne), who can only exist within Wanda’s magic spell over Westview.
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“I’m not saying we’re making indie art films,” Olsen said
The Scarlet Witch’s wrath might be deadly, but Elizabeth Olsen says she only gets a “little feisty” when people criticize Marvel movies.
While absolutely nobody needs to feel bad for a studio raking in box-office receipts by the billions, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has attracted a handful of high-profile detractors in recent years, including directors Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve and Jane Campion, who’ve all essentially laid the death of cinema at its feet.
Olsen — who’s appeared in a string of Marvel projects since 2015, including the recent “Doctor Strange” sequel — understands the feedback, but she’s also pushing back against those who make superhero films “seem like a lesser type of art.”
“I’m not saying we’re making indie art films, but I just think it takes away from our crew, which bugs me,” she said in a new interview with The Independent. “These are some of the most amazing set designers, costume designers, camera operators ― I feel diminishing them with that kind of criticism takes away from all the people who do award-winning films, that also work on these projects.”
“From an actor’s point of view, whatever, I get it; I totally understand that there’s a different kind of performance that’s happening,” she continued. “But I do think throwing Marvel under the bus takes away from the hundreds of very talented crew people. That’s where I get a little feisty about that.”
Olsen got her start in a string of critically acclaimed indie films, including her big-screen debut in the 2011 thriller “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” before moving on to big-budget, special-effects-heavy fare.
Her latest Marvel blockbuster, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” arrived in theaters this weekend to the tune of an estimated $185 million in ticket sales, the biggest opening of any film in 2022.
As for whether she’ll return to her roots, Olsen has learned to keep her options open and the haters out of mind, adding that she’s ready to play in the Marvel sandbox again as long as “there’s a good idea attached to it.”
Noting that she initially was only contracted to appear in two movies and a cameo, Olsen said, “It continues to be a surprise when they want to use me for more projects.”
Next up for the actor, however, is a project hailing from an entirely different genre.
Olsen is set to star in “Love and Death,” an upcoming HBO Max limited series from writer and executive producer David E. Kelley about the true and very grisly story of Texas housewife Candy Montgomery, who famously killed her best friend from church with an ax.
Lizzie also dropped by Saturday Night Live when her “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Maddness” co-star, Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.