The statuesque Elizabeth Olsen is the picture of poise, but she has ups and downs, just like the rest of us. The actress revealed to Build on Wednesday that while filming a movie earlier in her career, she began to experience panic attacks.
Olsen was visiting Build to promote her new Facebook Watch show Sorry for Your Loss. When asked about some of the most important lessons she’s learned from other actors, the 29-year-old got candid about her time on the set of a 2012 movie, Red Lights, working with legends like Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro.
“I did this movie called Red Lights that no one saw,” she recalled. “It was actually a really weird time in my life because I was experiencing panic attacks for the first time.”
She kept her struggle to herself, however, for fear of professional complications.
“I didn’t want anyone to know, because I thought they wouldn’t insure me or something,” she said.
And it wasn’t just one or two incidents. “I kept having panic attacks while filming, but I didn’t let anyone know. It was really weird.”
Olsen has previously discussed the ways in which she has experienced this in the past. She once had a “bit of a panic attack” at the Sundance Film Festival. “You have all the lights on you, and there’s really no point of focus,” she told Philadelphia Style in 2017. “I hate it. It freaks me out. So, I thought, I’m going to take my shoes off. And I remember every moment.”
Anxiety has affected her in other ways. She shared with Evening Standard Magazine last year that the red carpet is not her “comfort zone,” saying if she isn’t comfortable in what she’s wearing, she might cry.
“Sometimes when I’m not in something that I love, I cry on the way to the premiere and I’m posing with my shoulders as far back as they go. Then I look at the photos and I’m like, “It did look nice. Why was I crying?”’ she said.
Olsen has forged ahead with her career, making films like Ingrid Goes West and playing the Scarlet Witch in the Avengers franchise. She has waded into producing as well. Olsen shared on Build that she’s a control freak, which made creating Sorry for Your Loss a great challenge since she executive-produced one of the episodes in the series, which was a career first for her.
She said her biggest fear when filming this series was not knowing what the writers would come up with. “You don’t know what you’re going to get. So that’s a scary feeling from a micro-manager control freak,” she said before pointing to herself.
Olsen admits that she has always been a control freak, and the way that translates to her work is “perfectionism, which isn’t real.” She explained, “The scenes where I would obsess the most, and I thought I had no idea what I was doing — it was so bad. I would watch when we would be in the editing room. And I would just be like, it was fine. It’s fine. What was so hard to understand that you could just move on from that?” When the crew was ready to move on from a scene, Olsen was not. “They’re being like, ‘Oh, really, I’m pretty sure we can move on, Lizzie.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s not right. I’m not doing anything good.’”
Olsen said she has never “walked away being like, that was perfect.” But it has nothing to do with insecurity — for her, its pure perfectionism. “I do feel capable. I don’t feel like I’m lost ever. I do feel like a capable person in my job.”