Though Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen enjoyed their time in the spotlight from the time they were nine months old, fame came later for their younger sister, Elizabeth. While fans of the then-popular Full House were surprised to find out that the Olsen twins played a single character- Michelle Tanner- they may have been even more shocked to find out that the Olsen twins weren’t the only children in their family.
Before the twins, Jarnie and Dave Olsen had a son, James, who goes by the name Trent. After the twins came, daughter Elizabeth. While mom and dad were seemingly uber-focused on the twins’ burgeoning careers, it seems like Trent and Elizabeth’s early days mostly outside of that spotlight benefited them. While Elizabeth is now pursuing acting, she made her own way rather than relying on the fame of her sisters to make it happen.
Now that we’ve seen Elizabeth in films like 2014’s Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War it’s easy to see that Mary-Kate and Ashley aren’t the only talented Olsens in the family. Always fascinated with arts and theater, Elizabeth made a name for herself and broke into the spotlight beside her sisters.
But it seems that while the twins are constantly together, being photographed and attending fashion events, Elizabeth is largely on her own. But here are twenty photos of the three Olsen sisters together that show that their family bonds are as strong as ever.
20 Shirking Spotlight From The Start
When Mary-Kate and Ashley started acting on Full House as Michelle Tanner, Elizabeth wasn’t even born yet. The twins began appearing on TV when they were nine months old in 1987, and Elizabeth wasn’t born until early 1989. Still, while her sisters spent most of their time on set, Elizabeth didn’t have any gigs until she was four. Then, she co-starred with her sisters in at least six of their productions.
Although the twins already had their careers set by the time little sis came along, it’s obvious that the girls still enjoyed their childhood together. One photo that mom Jarnie shared features her reading a book to the kids with all three girls listening intently.
And though Elizabeth now tells US Magazine that her sisters were “intimately private,” she did learn valuable life skills from watching them from a young age.
She explained that she learned her value system from Mary-Kate and Ashley, recognizing that show business is just that- a business- and that acting would be work.
She never had the desire to become a “star,” Elizabeth said, but that acting was her job and that she didn’t want to draw attention to herself simply for doing what she loves to and is paid to do.
19 Growing Up Invisibly Olsen
From the beginning, mom Jarnie and dad Dave were the driving force behind Mary-Kate and Ashley’s success. After all, what infant decides she wants to star on a TV show and grow up to manage a fan club? But as intense as Dave and Jarnie were about the twins’ appearances in TV and film, they didn’t seem to show the same passion for Elizabeth’s film exploits.
While Mary-Kate and Ashley were on set filming movies that featured them as the main characters, Elizabeth sometimes had cameo roles but didn’t play a huge part. Brother Trent is practically invisible, too, though one song was reportedly written about him.
The twins’ talent so eclipsed the rest of the family that their parents created a company in the 90s to produce TV movies and direct-to-video releases starring the girls. Although both of the twins’ Wikipedia pages claim that the girls started the production company, its opening date is 1993.
Obviously, no seven-year-old can start a production company- but once the girls turned 18, the rights were handed over to them. And what about Elizabeth? She got nothing. Mary-Kate and Ashley are co-CEOs and presidents of the company, which handles not only the girls’ film rights and legal rights to their likenesses, but also their clothing and fragrance companies.
18 Candid Childhood Moment
Another image likely leaked from mom or dad, this snap featuring Mary-Kate, Ashley, Trent, and Elizabeth all posing on a motorcycle is one of those images that most kids from the 90s have. It’s obviously staged, but the kids look reasonably happy and they’re all together. While the opportunity to test drive motorcycles may have come from the twins’ notoriety, all the siblings were spending time together the way young kids are meant to.
And, as Elizabeth told The Guardian,
her parents didn’t spend a lot of time running Mary-Kate and Ashley’s careers, anyway. After “getting them that first job,” she says, Jarnie and Dave “did what they could to hook them up with the right people to handle things… but they never pretended they could do it well themselves.”
Suffice it to say, while the Olsen parents delivered their twins to their media success, they were also just normal parents of four kids who worked full-time to make a living. Elizabeth explained that her dad worked full-time in real estate alluding to the fact that her mom was a stay at home mom, saying “my mother’s a ballet dancer – which isn’t what you call a job.” Sounds like her parents were more present than you’d assume of a couple who thrust their baby twins into show biz.
17 Photos From Mom’s Collection
Social media accounts that apparently belong to Jarnie Olsen feature dated family shots that make it seem like the kids spent more time together as children than they do as adults. While the twins are still often seen in public together, there aren’t many public appearances from Trent. At the same time, Elizabeth is busy living her life, not posing for paparazzi.
That’s why sweet childhood photos of the Olsens have to be part of the discussion when it comes to three Olsen sisters. They were close enough in age to play together, they spent time on set together, and they’ve remained close through adulthood, according to Elizabeth. Plus, the twins named their clothing line- Elizabeth and James- after their siblings (Trent’s real name is James, remember?).
Especially in this shot, Elizabeth looks thrilled to be photographed in between her twin sisters, something that appears to carry on into almost all of their modern photos together. Whether she ever felt left out growing up with twin sisters- ones who were stars, no less- doesn’t have to be left up to the imagination.
Elizabeth told The Guardian that the shadow of her sisters’ success and fame didn’t impact her much until she realized it all in adulthood. At that point, her sisters simply became an even better example of how to live a normal life under the scrutiny of fans and the general public.
16 Doting Mom Makes Life Normal
Although the Olsen kids had the benefit of growing up in a two-parent household in their younger years, by 1996, their parents had divorced. The twins were only ten at the time the divorce was finalized, and Elizabeth merely seven. Still, that doesn’t seem to have impacted the kids’ futures at all, and the parents split custody. There seemed to be no public animosity between the ex-partners in the following years.
But as dad Dave told People, “They’ve been put on such a pedestal,” that people were obsessed with their personal lives. It still rings true today, with all the media attention their every move earns. And though there was pressure to follow in her sisters’ footsteps, it was more of an expectation that Elizabeth would take advantage of their fame, she told interviewers. However, entirely sure that she’s never earned a role just because of her sisters, Elizabeth acted largely under the radar until her breakout at Sundance 2011.
At the film festival, Martha Marcy May Marlene rolled out, in which Elizabeth played the titular character- one which spanned a challenging range of emotions and abilities. She was only 22 at the time, but she impressed critics and started making her own way in film- no nepotism needed.
15 Sisterly Bonds Stay Strong
Surprisingly, this shot came after Elizabeth swore off acting. At some point in her childhood, she told The Guardian, acting just wasn’t fun anymore. She started with the straight-to-video tween movies with Mary-Kate and Ashley, playing such poignant roles as “Girl In Car” and having bubblegum in her hair.
But it wasn’t all fun and games, Elizabeth noted. When she was ten, her parents had her write down a list of pros and cons on the topic of acting. As she realized,
she told the interviewer, “the cons just piled up.” She decided to keep acting a hobby, at least until she was older. She didn’t want to start working until she was eighteen, she maintains, and she wasn’t going to rely on nepotism for her career.
While Mary-Kate and Ashley only became busier as they entered their teen years, shooting films and starting clothing brands, they still made time for their little sis. Cue this grainy shot from the girls’ tweenhood, in which Elizabeth is in middle school. At that time, Elizabeth was concentrating on just enjoying her childhood/tweenhood.
With movies and a TV series spanning those years, the twins likely didn’t have a lot of downtime. But Elizabeth was content to do her “after-school sports and dance instead,” US Magazine reported. She stayed quiet on the acting scene until her movie debut in 2011, once she was over the hurdle of the teen years and on her way into adulthood.
14 Times Changing With Dad
Another throwback shot shows how close the family was even as the girls progressed in their careers. This pic shows dad Dave with all four of his children with then-wife Jarnie. As Mary-Kate told People on the cusp of the twins’ eighteenth birthday, “We were definitely protected.” This referring to mom Jarnie being busy raising Trent and Elizabeth and making sure the twins invested their money wisely.
When their parents divorced, Ashley told the magazine, the girls were “kind of busy at that point.” Although Elizabeth didn’t publicly comment on the divorce, Ashley summed up the siblings’ feelings on the topic: “We had so many people that loved us that we were like, ‘That’s okay. Things will be better this way.’ We were very mature for our age.”
By the time the twins were almost 18, making Elizabeth 15, their dad had remarried and had two more children. But all of the girls were already on the path toward making their own impact on the world- the twins were preparing for college, Elizabeth was in high school and contemplating her career moves. And in the end, all the Olsen kids have turned out exceptionally well, if their monetary success and acting awards are any indication.
13 Other Unknown Olsen Siblings
While Elizabeth was often called the “third Olsen twin” or the “other” Olsen sister, there are two more kids in the Olsen clan apart from Elizabeth and Trent. After Jarnie and Dave divorced in 1996 or 1995 (sources are conflicted), Dave went on to remarry and have two more children.
With new wife McKenzie, Dave had another daughter- Courtney- and a son- Jake.
If you thought that Elizabeth lived a relatively unknown life until choosing to debut her acting chops, you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s even less known about her younger half-siblings. Though with the age gap between the older and younger Olsen kids, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t spend a whole lot of time together.
Elizabeth told the New York Times that she was five when her parents split (apparently the actual divorce took a while), but that they “remained friendly post-divorce.” Dave married McKenzie shortly after, in the beginning of 1996, and their first child together was born the same year. Baby Jake came in 1998, when the twins were 11 and Elizabeth was nine. Courtney has been in a couple of movies, and apparently, Jake aspired to become a model, according to Body Height Weight, so maybe we’ll see him make a debut into the entertainment world, too.
12 More Than Four’s A Crowd
Despite claims that the now-divorced Olsen parents are on good terms, multiple photos of the girls posing with their mom, then their dad and his new family separately suggest a different tone. It’s been decades now, but these older photos show the divide between the ex-Olsen wife and the existing one. But the whole family is familiar with staying in the spotlight, whether they’re acting or not, so it’s unlikely there would be any drama airing when everyone is in the same place.
Plus, with the twins alone being worth a few hundred million dollars, the Olsen parents probably don’t worry too much about the things most divorced couples do.
And while Elizabeth finished school and started working onstage both during and after, it would seem her connections have helped her fund her lifestyle, at least.
A PJ Star article claimed that Elizabeth got a few casting calls after an agent saw her name on a playbill, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she got a shot at fame because of her name. Another interviewer noted that Elizabeth arrived an hour late to an interview- excessively apologetic- because she was at a modeling shoot for Chanel with Karl Lagerfeld. Then again, she did drive a Prius to another interview, and wore a “secondhand sleeveless vest” that cost three dollars.
11 Red Carpet Realizations
Though little Courtney and Jake weren’t in the spotlight much as kids, they’ve both gravitated toward it as teens and beyond. Photos exist online of Jake’s modeling portfolio, and Courtney, AKA Taylor Olsen, has been in a couple films and a reality show. But back when Mary-Kate and Ashley were the only famous Olsens, the whole family came out to support them on the red carpet.
The photo in question is from a 2004 event where the twins were awarded a star each on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their Achievements in Television. Most of the images from the event- particularly those from Getty Images- were of the twins, pushing Elizabeth back into the shadows again. But later, Elizabeth would earn her own accolades for acting, and she always seemed to take her sisters’ fame in stride.
She told The Guardian that people used to come to her dorm room at NYU and knock on the door. When she opened it, they’d pretend they had knocked on the wrong door- a made-up excuse just to get a glimpse at the famous Olsen twins’ “other” sister. When the interviewer suggested that this attention had “dogged her early on,” Elizabeth agreed, but also explained that the phenomenon also made her more determined to do well in college.
10 Making Time For Mom
Another shot of Jarnie with her four kids marks the passage of time. A young Elizabeth, during her acting hiatus, poses with her siblings and mom. Though Trent isn’t photographed much with his family these days, the eldest Olsen sibling is still credited as an “actor” on online profiles. His credits, though? Only one movie: You’re Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Greatest Parties.
If Elizabeth stayed out of the spotlight successfully, Trent is a master of staying undercover.
Though Mary-Kate and Ashley named their most successful clothing line after their siblings (remember Trent’s real name is James), there’s not much to link him to them in everyday life.
Back when the twins were filming kids’ movies, people reveled in the fact that Trent could double as a “third twin” since his looks were so similar. The girls even had a song about him in a film- a “brother for sale” performance.
However, it would seem that Trent prefers to be behind the scenes rather than on-screen. He graduated from the University of Southern California and got a gig as a writer in the film and television division of Storm King Productions, according to Bustle. Although he may have had acting ambitions as a child- a family friend leaked that Trent had auditioned for a role in Tales From the Crypt and got it, but his parents didn’t let him do the film.
9 Elizabeth And James Fall Debut
Back in 2013, Elizabeth attended the fall debut of the Elizabeth and James line with her twin sisters and their dad, Dave. According to the PJ Star, Mary-Kate and Ashley launched the clothing line Elizabeth and James in honor of their siblings. Elizabeth inspired the “uptown sophistication and femininity” of the line, while James added the “laid back, downtown edge,” PJ Star wrote. While we’re not sure how active James is with the line, especially since he has never gone by James- rather, he’s chosen the nickname Trent, Elizabeth doesn’t mind being part of her sisters’ inspiration.
Elizabeth has told the media that when she’s in town, she loves spending time at her sister’s fashion headquarters, and she’s often present at Elizabeth and James shows, though Trent is noticeably absent. Of the fall 2013 debut, Vogue reported, Mary-Kate and Ashley explained that the “typical Elizabeth and James girl” is somewhere in her twenties, she’s also wise and sophisticated beyond her years.
That sounds a lot like the twins’ reality, and Elizabeth’s too, as they all had to learn at a young age how to protect themselves against publicity while still benefiting from the industry career-wise. In fact, the clothing line follows earlier lines by the twins that aimed to rope in the followers from their films and TV shows.
Early on, the Mary-Kate and Ashley clothing lines were available at Wal-Mart and catered to tweens and teens that were fans. Now, however, their fashion forward line has a more sophisticated audience- one that all three girls seem in tune with. Along with clothing, the girls have also launched handbags and fragrances under the Elizabeth and James label.
8 Art And Film Appearance
In 2016, LA’s LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) Art + Film Gala honored Robert Irwin and Kathryn Bigelow, and all three Olsen sisters were in attendance. The girls posed together with style, but did you expect anything less? The event was presented by Gucci, too, so all the more incentive for the twin fashion icons to go chic. Elizabeth, however, seems to have her own style, opting for a white coat over her black dress, while her sisters wore all-black.
ET Online reported that the Olsen sisters weren’t the only stars on scene, although they may have gained the most notoriety since the twins don’t often make public appearances anymore. But how could they resist an art and film event with fashion backing it?
Leonardo DiCaprio co-chaired the event with a LACMA trustee, and other celebrity guests like Bradley Cooper, Jaden Smith, Zoe Saldana, Kate Upton, Salma Hayek, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sylvester Stallone, and James Corden were also on hand.
Although it’s not the twins’ usual scene, the fact that all three ladies attended together was a sweet moment- especially since the twins seem to go it alone when it comes to red carpet appearances.
Still, they’re often out at events for a good cause, and the LACMA Art + Film Gala no doubt qualifies as a do-gooder event- at least for artists and film personalities.
7 Fashionable At The Fashion Awards
In another appearance that the media touts as “rare,” the three sisters got together for a red carpet rollout at the CFDA Fashion Awards. ET Online suggested that the trio looked like “triplets” with their “picture-perfect pouts, flowing tresses, and head-to-toe black outfits.” With Mary-Kate and Ashley’s penchant for wearing all black, maybe it was their influence that prompted Elizabeth to don a black gown, too.
Then again, the event was held in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom, so maybe it’s the high-class event that warrants a little-black ensemble- though none of the ladies wore dresses, instead opting for chic pantsuits. The 2016 event marked the first time the three sisters had seen a red carpet together since 2011, ET Online claimed, but credited fashion with uniting the girls.
At the time, Elizabeth was 27 and the twins were 29, and she gave an interview to ET about her sisters’ influence over her acting. They cautioned her to stay in school, she noted, which she did. But she also “didn’t listen to” some of the other things they told her, Elizabeth said, adding that “you just have to make your own mistakes.” Still, she’d listen to their advice now if they doled it out, though she seems to be making her own mark just fine without her sisters’ advice.
6 Round Table Fashion Trio
Another snapshot from the CFDA Fashion Awards places the Olsen sisters at one of the ballroom gala’s tables, where only Elizabeth seems truly happy to be posing for photos. The twins are reclusive, for sure, but even their slight smiles suggest that they’d rather be elsewhere. Elizabeth, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind publicity, and has given numerous interviews over the years. She shares everything from her path toward acting to the advice her sisters have given her, even opening up to The Guardian about the time she almost quit acting- because of her sisters.
The Guardian noted that Elizabeth
“almost reconsidered acting as a career” in 2004, when rumors arose about Mary-Kate possibly being anorexic. Despite interviews with the twins as they approached their 18th birthdays claiming otherwise, the media spent weeks claiming that Mary-Kate was struggling with anorexia.
Still, Elizabeth recognized growing up in the spotlight as normal- she told The Guardian that she “never thought about working on movies or television as something super-special that all these super-special people get to do. Neither did my sisters, and they were on camera from the age of a year old onwards.”
At the same time, Elizabeth has always been cautious about airing too much dirty laundry in public, realizing that her sisters’ passion for privacy has proven beneficial in the long run.
5 Sisterly Support At Magazine Debut
She’s been on at least a handful of magazine covers- from the Empire magazine cover that was touted as a photoshop fail to Glamour and Elle for fashion-forward focus. Then there’s Cosmo Girl, Fashion, Cosmopolitan, Philadelphia Style, Allure, Miami, Marie Claire, Modern Luxury, and more. She’s definitely photogenic, but there’s plenty of girl-power backing that pretty face.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Mary-Kate and Ashley were on hand to support their sis when she was on the cover of Nylon magazine in 2011- right before she “made it big,” according to the mag. It must have been nice to have her sisters attending an event in support of her, rather than the other way around, since Elizabeth’s always been at events thanks to her sisters’ brand success.
And although their trademark publicity photos- usually with Elizabeth in between the twins- came either before or after, this candid snapshot catches the girls in conversation. But even in the still photo, the difference between Elizabeth’s and the twins’ personalities is evident. Elizabeth is bubbly and full of chatter, while the twins are often reserved and barely smile, mouths closed, for the cameras. Maybe they’re tired of the spotlight- but for Elizabeth, things were just getting started.
4 Nylon’s Cover Girl
While some magazines photoshopped Elizabeth to the point that she barely looked familiar to fans, the Nylon cover was different. Their story focused on Elizabeth’s “famous family, daring films, & bright future,” according to the headlines. Elizabeth interviewed with writer Luke Crisell, whom she adventured with at Hollywood Reservoir. The writer quoted Elizabeth as asking whether he thought the scenery looked like the setting of Jurassic Park, admiring the sandy trail and the staggering view.
They met at a vegan café beforehand, but then took the trail, which gave them a clear view of singer Moby’s “castle-like, white abode” at the top of the hill. At that point, Elizabeth was driving Mary-Kate’s hand-me-down Range Rover after her sis moved to NYC in 2004.
The author noted that Elizabeth’s peppy personality was surprising, in part due to her sisters’ “guarded and chary” approach to conversation, especially with journalists.
That said, Elizabeth has always been part of the industry, she told interviewers- her best friend’s father was a makeup-artist with seven Oscars. Another friend’s family created the TV drama Days of Our Lives. She attended a private school in Beverly Hills, rubbing elbows with the richest people in LA, but to Elizabeth, it all contributed to her drive and passion for the entertainment industry.
3 Bold And Brunette
When Elizabeth interviewed with Nylon, and appeared on their cover, she was “newly blond,” the writer noted. And though her sisters have always kept their famously blond locks flowing, Elizabeth seems to do her own thing when it comes to hairstyles. That said, she can’t do much about the family resemblance- with a pale face and green eyes, the writer for Nylon exclaimed, the “kind of pretty that only gets prettier upon closer inspection.”
Flattering, to be sure, but focusing on Elizabeth’s looks- which the media tends to do now that she’s starred in mainstream movies with “sexier” roles- disregards the time she’s spent seriously studying theater and acting. She was “surrounded by ‘super-creative’ kids” growing up in Beverly Hills, Nylon wrote- obviously, that included her twin sisters.
Elizabeth and her friends were “obsessive” about making their own movie at one point, rolling out their own red-carpet event while in sixth grade. But at the same time, her ballet teacher chastised the elementary student for her “casual work ethic,” and that’s when her parents let her quit acting- temporarily, at least.
As a high schooler, though, Elizabeth credited her interest in theater and “the academic world of it and playwrights and history” to a teacher who pushed her to delve deeper. She started out with studying the “craft of acting,” viewing theater through a different lens than that of acting in Hollywood. The two worlds wouldn’t stay separate forever, however.
2 Barney’s Launch Debuts Handbags
Elizabeth prefers tomboyish style, the Daily Mail noted, quoting her as saying she prefers “masculine clothes for women over dresses and heels.” To that end, she used to ask her sisters what to wear, stealing clothes from their closets as she grew up, and asking for their advice when clothes shopping.
And although the clothing line Elizabeth and James is inspired by the starlet and her brother, the twins’ other collections- The Row, Olsenboye, and StyleMint- departed from the influence of their siblings. In fact, in this photo, you can see Elizabeth’s clear style in comparison with her sisters’. She’s wearing shorts rather than a dress, while both the twins sports dresses and matching handbags.
The photo was from the rollout of the twins’ The Row handbag collection at Barney’s, where Elizabeth was on hand to lend style support for her sisters.
And while she may be focused on her own fashion choices, shirking the trends of today, that doesn’t stop her from staying on point with her own ensembles. Mary-Kate and Ashley may be the designers by trade, but what’s to say Elizabeth can’t follow in their footsteps toward creating her own clothing line one day? After all, the twins started with acting too, just like their little sis.
1 Subdued Store Opening Shots
Although Mary-Kate and Ashley have always been style “icons”- most famous for their boho/homeless chic duds- they credit Elizabeth and their older brother with the inspiration for Elizabeth and James. Thus, it seems fitting that Elizabeth attends so many of their brand openings. Although she’s got her own life to live- between acting in films and attending school- Elizabeth always made time for her sisters’ events.
Like the opening of the flagship Elizabeth and James store in 2016, which the girls celebrated at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. InStyle sponsored the event, according to US Magazine. But while festive, the mood seems subdued, judging by the girls’ expressions in the photos. While the twins prefer to fly under the radar in most cases, their first store opening obviously had to have them present. But having their sister along for the event likely helped relax things. If Nylon’s writer’s description of “Lizzie” is accurate, she’s more down-to-earth than almost any other actress, preferring to enjoy nature and talk about her positive role models growing up than gossiping about her sisters and their childhood.
She even told the journalist, “I consider myself very lucky to have such a normal family. No matter where you come from, the idea of not having a good relationship with your parents is something I can’t imagine.”