On the Upstate New York set of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” the indie that wowed Sundance earlier this year and is finally hitting theaters Friday, Elizabeth Olsen spent more than a couple of days stripping down — sometimes to jump into an icy cold lake, sometimes to jump someone’s bones.
While Olsen admits that those nude scenes were a bit odd to film, she left no doubt that simply diving into the water was far more perilous than doffing her clothes in front of a camera. “The lake was daunting,” she told to MTV News. “Some lake scenes we could only shoot once, because it was physically too cold for a body to be in there very long.”
By contrast, Olsen looks back at her nude scenes as all part of the “Martha Marcy” job — one that might earn her an Oscar nomination for a stunning performance as a woman who flees a cult and lands at her sister’s lake house, yet is besieged by remembrances of her traumatic past. “Everyone’s always put in some sort of weird situation when you’re making a movie,” she said. “I didn’t treat [the nude scenes] any differently. The only thing we treated differently was that our first [assistant director] would swap out with our second AD, who was a female, and she’d call the shots.”
Even the lake scenes, though, don’t count as the most difficult she took on. That distinction goes to an astonishing, single-take party scene in which Olsen’s character slowly builds from hesitating partygoer into out-of-control, vocal-cord-shredding meltdown mode. “What was hard about that is that it was one shot, and it does have a climax to it. It was also our first experience with lots of extras, and these aren’t people who are actors. They’re just people in town who wanted to be in a movie, so they love talking to you in between takes. That was distracting. Personally, that was my most difficult scene to film.”
Despite the intensity of the role, Olsen said the character didn’t stay with her after she finished shooting last summer.
“It wasn’t very difficult to leave behind,” she explained. “I always keep myself very separate from a character, not trying to think that I’m the character or all those things, because especially in this movie, that’d be very bizarre. What I did leave behind, which I really missed and what was really sad, is all of these people became really, really close friends of mine. Thank God they all live in Brooklyn! So we’ve been able to hang out all the time. We did have a very special experience making the movie.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
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