There are few things more frustrating than writing a magazine article that doesn't get published. What's worse is when the article features an Oscar-worthy, young movie star who was gracious enough to give an extensive interview, even after she'd endured a long day of press meetings and a photo shoot.
Elizabeth Olsen -- immensely talented little sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley -- had just made a gigantic splash in Hollywood with a shattering performance as a fractured, emotionally devastated girl who escapes the psychological grip of an abusive cult in the 2011 indie hit Martha Marcy May Marlene. Elizabeth was Hollywood's new It Girl. The talk of the town. She was relaxing in her Manhattan apartment, and we were having a nice chat.
Growing up with a front row seat to the red carpet/paparazzi craziness surrounding her big sisters' Hollywood lives, the younger Olsen was quickly turned off by the superficial side of show biz. It was the art of acting that she loved, and she eschewed the Hollywood machine by moving to New York to study theater and act on the stage, earning her Equity card by understudying in Broadway plays while attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Before long, she began amassing screen credits (Silent House, Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding, Red Lights, Liberal Arts), rocking every performance - and leaving audiences wanting more. (Olsen stars alongside Dakota Fanning in the upcoming BFFs-plan-to-lose-their-virginity-and-end-up-falling-for-the-same-dude drama Very Good Girls.) With Martha Marcy May Marlene, Olsen's authentic portrayal of her character's tortured attempt to return to normal living quickly made her stand out, even among Hollywood's most vital new stars.
Beautiful without being self-absorbed and fashionable without being fashion obsessed, Olsen's refreshing depth and reluctant attitude toward celebrity made her compelling as an artist and intriguing as a person: A sophisticated New Yorker with a Valley-girl giggle. Our conversation revealed that as a five-year-old she was enamored with Frank Sinatra's films, particularly Guys and Dolls, wishing she could be one of his on-screen girlfriends. She cited Michelle Pfeiffer as a major creative influence, said she thought it'd be fun to work with Mark Wahlberg, and became giddy over a rumor that the White House requested a print of Martha Marcy May Marlene. It was a sweet interview.
I worked hard on the article, polishing it as best I could, and sent it off to my editor by deadline. I'd thought I'd written a strong piece, captured stuff about Elizabeth that other journalists didn't. I thought Elizabeth would like it. I was feeling pretty good about everything, and then everything went wrong.
The magazine in which the interview was to appear could not outpace the brutal challenges of today's publishing scene, and the issue never came out. I imagined the magazine's office folding up into a little suitcase, growing legs and galloping out of town. The whole mess vibed like an embarrassing high school experience. Boy tries to impress girl. Boy fails.
I'm not sure how Elizabeth Olsen felt about the interview's disappearance. At the time she was being stormed, hounded and questioned by every entertainment journalist in the business. Maybe she didn't care? Maybe she didn't even notice? Maybe her publicist wasn't pissed about her precious time being wasted? Maybe we'll all have a laugh about it someday?
Maybe Rush Limbaugh will jump out of Barack Obama's birthday cake and sing, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."