The star of Wind River and Ingrid Goes West chats with VIOLET GREY about snowmobiles, gun ranges, backseat driving and quote-unquote “sexy makeup”.
VIOLET GREY – Two back-to-back movies premieres. For most actors, this would be a chore. But the atmosphere in Elizabeth Olsen’s suite at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills is decidedly unserious and buoyant. The focal point of the good energy (and the gales of laughter) is Olsen herself, who seems supernaturally good-humored. When pressed—doesn’t this just feel like work?—she protests vigorously. “I actually really love doing my hair and makeup,” she says, “I think it’s really fun.”
It helps that the young actress has a beauty team—makeup artist Gita Bass, hairstylist Mark Townsend, nail artist Michelle Saunders and stylist Sara Slutzsky—that functions more like a group of close-knit friends than professional acquaintances. “I’ll ask them about everything they’re using,” says Olsen of her team, “They usually have multiples of things and give them to me—which is really generous.” She lets out a knowing laugh and jokes, “I just steal from them!”
Another reason for the celebratory vibes: this is inarguably a big moment for Olsen. Her performances in two upcoming films—Ingrid Goes West, a tart commentary on contemporary social media mores, and Wind River, a tense thriller set on an Indian reservation—have garnered the type of critical buzz that typically presages award season recognition. It’s not hyperbolic to expect that, within the next few months, Olsen will be vaulted into another league of stardom.
VIOLET GREY joined Olsen and her team before the Los Angeles premiere of Wind River to get her take on snowmobiles, Uber, mixed drinks and quote-unquote “sexy makeup”.
SUBJECT: Elizabeth Olsen, @elizabetholsenofficial
OCCASION: Los Angeles premiere of Wind River
TEAM: Gita Bass (makeup), Mark Townsend (hair), Sarah Slutsky (styling), Michelle Saunders (nails)
VENUE: The Four Seasons
THE LOOK: Dress by Roland Mouret, jewelry by Ana Khouri, shoes by Dolce & Gabbana.
Tell us about your new films, Wind River and Ingrid Goes West.
I’m really bad at log-lining, but—Wind River is a crime thriller about a girl on a Wyoming reservation who is found raped and murdered. And Ingrid centers on a girl who’s obsessed with an influencer, and stalks her in a Single White Female manner. So they’re very different films! In one I play a federal agent, and the other I’m an Instagram influencer in Venice, California.
What was it like filming Ingrid Goes West with Aubrey Plaza? She’s hysterical.
Ingrid was a lot of fun because when we were filming we tried to make each other break and laugh. But it was also an insane production. We had to be evacuated from where we were filming in Santa Clarita because of a crazy wildfire; our director needed stitches during the shoot; and we started off trying to make a non-SAG film—and then SAG found out so we had to change our entire [crew]. It was kind of a mess. But still, we were focused during filming and i think we all understood the kind of movie we wanted to make. A timely cult classic that represents a moment for this generation.
And Wind River is much more of a classic genre thriller. What was the on-set mood?
It was really crazy. We had to change locations because we were losing the snow as spring crept up on us, and just to go to the bathroom was a 30-minute snowmobile ride there and back. And in order to get to set, we had to be on snowmobiles or Sno-Cats. It wasn’t like taking a car to base camp.
It was fun, and that was really creatively satisfying for all of us. I now actually really love shooting guns—not as a personal thing, but I’d like to do it again for a film. Gun Fu: that’s what they call the action in films that have gun fighting. Everything I did on Wind River I did in a gun range in Utah, whether shooting, standing, or crawling.
With all these premieres, what’s been your favorite recent product discovery?
It’s actually been really helpful to do premieres so I understand what to wear on film. Now I have a list of makeup that I know disappears on film, for when I’m working. Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation is my favourite thing to wear. But then I just got these tinted balms by Jillian Dempsey. They’re for your eyelids but you can put them anywhere. And I really like the colors. It’s kind of idiot-proof, you just put it on your finger and wipe it on your eyelids. Available on VIOLET GREY! Get it now! I really love wet-looking eyes, so I’ll use Eight Hour Cream, or lid gloss. I like it when eyes have a shine to them, I think it’s sexy. And I like feeling sexy. [Olsen drops to a terrifying “sexy” voice]. Like, that’s so sexy.
If you were doing an evening makeup look, what would you wear with it?
I like putting myself together, but if I put on nice makeup, I’ll probably end up not wearing something nice. Because I don’t ever like feeling dressed-up; I always prefer dressed-down.
What’s your getting ready soundtrack?
Sylvan Esso “Die Young.” I know people are into [compiling] Spotfiy playlists, but that’s a lot of time curating. So I just rely on Pandora One.
What’s your pre-game beverage?
I like a Tito’s vodka soda with some sort of lemon or lime. I went through a tequila phase, I go in and out of wine phases—it depends on how gross I want to feel the next day.
What would a great Los Angeles evening look like to you?
My favorite evening in LA is spent having my friends over to my house. I think it’s hard to properly enjoy going out in LA—it’s such a headache trying to figure out how to get home, how to get there. I don’t like getting Ubers at all because I’m a control freak and prefer taking certain shortcuts, and they don’t know where they’re going. And I don’t want to be a backseat driver. So I just don’t. I just go out to dinner. The most exciting thing is when you shut down a restaurant. That’s as exciting as my nights get.
“Lizzie and I have an awesome dynamic, I love working with her. Collaborating is super-key. [I like to know] what ideas are circling around and what Lizzie is thinking. She’s so fun, so inspiring.
I think the movie feels quite powerful, and the dress seemed to have that same sort of weight. It’s beautiful yet has some of her playfulness and strength. And I love when she feels great in a dress; that’s the ideal. It was a no-brainer. I love Roland, she’s worn him before. He’s an incredible talent and a great guy, and I’m pleased this one worked out so well. The shoes are Dolce & Gabbana, and the jewelry is by Ana Khouri. Actually we always laugh—Lizzie doesn’t have her ears pierced and I have 11 ear piercings. I’m always teasing her like, when are you getting your ears pierced?, but now I think it’s cool she doesn’t. I have to be on my game to come up with interesting options for [her] jewelry.” —SARA SLUTSKY
“So I barely put anything on her skin because she has literally the most flawless skin I’ve ever seen. I just mixed a tiny bit of foundation with some essential oil to give her a glow. I used Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and thinned it down with moisturizer and oils. I used Simple Replenishing Rich Facial Moisturizer because it’s heavier and gives a flawless look when mixed with the Armani.
We decided to go for a really pretty, bronze-y eye. I used my finger to apply a Tom Ford bronze cream shadow to her eye, and then layered an eyeshadow over the top so nothing moves. I lined the inside of her eyes with a dark brown Make Up For Ever pencil. And that’s it. Lots of mascara, but those are her own eyelashes! She has a NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Bahama on her lips, and some lip balm. And a little bronzer on her cheeks: Soleil Tan de Chanel. It’s really natural. I can do her makeup in twenty minutes.” — GITA BASS
“I have been obsessing about a side braid and I think it was the perfect style for tonight and for the dress that she’s wearing. The reference was Alexander Wang’s Spring 2010 runway. It’s a “hairstyle,” but it’s still loose and young and cool. Which is who she is. We started with a volumizer at the root—the one product I can’t not use is Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. And we always finish with a Sally Hershberger salt spray for that beachy texture.
What’s the secret to the perfect side braid? Be an Olsen. They really are born with the greatest, most perfect hair I’ve ever worked with. But it’s about getting the texture in the hair first. I’m obsessed with the double-barrel iron from R Session, it creates those imperfect bends in the hair instead of perfect ringlets. So getting that texture in first helps the braid hold throughout the night.” — MARK TOWNSEND
“We did a really beautiful essie red called Bordeaux. You know sometimes when you go with a dark red it reads as black? For cameras, I always go a shade lighter than your typical Wicked or Vamp. Then it’s dark enough but you can still see red. I think it’s the darkest red can go, and it’s very chic.
Another trip with getting someone ready for a red carpet is to ask whether they’re wearing open- or closed-toe shoes, because if they’re wearing closed-toe shoes you have to do the pedicure first, or the nails won’t dry and they’ll be ruined from walking the red carpet!” — MICHELLE SAUNDERS