[Interview] Elizabeth Olsen felt like Wanda Maximoff’s lawyer in DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS

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Courtney Howard // Film Critic

We’ve had the special gift of exploring new territory with Wanda Maximoff both on the big and the small screen – and each time the journey taken has felt emotionally resonant and epic. From her first appearance in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON to her stint in the Disney+ series WANDAVISION, actress Elizabeth Olsen has delivered the goods time and time over, making her tough, tender performance affect audiences in all the right ways. With her latest appearance in Director Sam Raimi’s DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, her character continues to evolve from the fairly docile domesticity of her fantasy world to…. well, you’ll see.

Olsen, speaking to journalists at the film’s recent virtual press conference, relished the ability to plunge into deeper levels of her enduring character.

“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 like anything and everything – and really grow her into a woman, leading her to accepting that she is this mythic woman and that that is her destiny. I hope that in this film people see that continuation of her acceptance of who she is and the journey that she has taken to get to this moment. She has way more clarity now than ever in this film.”

In this next chapter in Wanda’s ever growing saga that sees her seeking for something much greater than herself from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), Olsen felt there was an undeniable attractive allure to the story being told.

“I do feel like we are exploring something that I haven’t been able to explore yet with the character. And it really just is about this clarity and this confidence. I do think that she has learned so much and has a sense of confidence that we haven’t seen of her yet.”

Naturally, as is the path she’s been forced to walk on (seeing how we last left her in WANDAVISION), Wanda experiences conflict and pushback from the titular superhero as she too explores her own power’s limits and consequences. Olsen’s perspective on her character’s tempestuous, often rebellious and dynamic character provides an interesting justification to the actions she causes and those thrust upon her.

“My biggest goal for everything is to play the lawyer to my character and to defend, defend, defend. So whether or not their greatest strength is their greatest weakness, whatever-wherever they’re coming from, or whatever they’re processing, my goal is to just defend their perspective.”

She continues,

“I don’t necessarily think of things as being weak. I don’t think we look at ourselves and we’re like, “Oh, this is a strength of mine.” I do think she’s constantly processing, and, I enjoy that she – even in WANDAVISION and all of the films I’ve gotten to do – she’s constantly straddling this line.  And usually in her biggest emotive losses or griefs is when something’s born.”

Raimi astutely adds further context without spoiling the details.

“She’s the classic character that loved not too wisely, but too well. I think that’s a source of many of her aspirations in the film, and sometimes leads to less happy moments for her.”

He then compliments her process, bringing to life her character’s multitudes, stating,

“Lizzy did a great job summing up her approach. It’s so brilliant that you’re trying to defend your point of view of your character. That’s what we all are trying to do in real life; I’m this person and here’s what I believe in; Here’s why it’s all about trying to understand your beliefs and explain them and sometimes defend them. I do see you doing that in the movie very effectively. It makes it very real. That’s how she brings great humanity to it and makes it connective to the audience.”

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS is now playing.

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Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.