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IN SECRET

Elizabeth Olsen as Therese
At the heart of IN SECRET is the woman who must hide her obsessive lust for her husband's friend from her controlling aunt and the eyes of the world. To play Therese, who transforms from a sheltered, naive orphan into a fiery, daring adultress, the filmmakers went in search of someone surprising. They found that in Elizabeth Olsen, who has come to the fore in a series of breakout dramatic roles, including her award-winning turn as an escaping cult member in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.

"When I saw her in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, I was just transfixed," recalls Stratton. "She had this quality I couldn't quite put my finger on, one that was simultaneously sexy, mysterious and elusive. I was very drawn to that and when I met her, she had that same quality - there's something like smoke or vapors about her, especially in her stillness. And casting an actress of her age was vital to me."

Everyone strongly supported the casting of Olsen. "She's perfect to embody this character who takes a very complex moral journey because she has so much transparency," says William Horberg. "You can see into her soul through her eyes and she invites you in to walk in Therese's shoes."

Adds Pete Shilaimon, "The perfect crime is one committed by a person you would never suspect, and you would never suspect Elizabeth Olsen of Therese's crimes. She has that pure, innocent quality to her, but her acting ability is incredible."

Olsen, who recently graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, found life imitating art. Shortly after reading the script, she started a Realism and Naturalism theatre class, where she was unexpectedly assigned to read Zola's "Therese Raquin." "That was right after I had read the script, so I felt like the characters were kind of haunting me," she muses. "And the more I learned about the story, the more I loved it."

She also loved Stratton's unflinching take on the story. "I feel like so many period pieces are about aristocrats and palaces and long lost romances but this is a dirtier, grittier version of the past," Olsen comments.

Right away, Olsen had a strong read on the character and her psyche. She saw Therese as someone who never felt she could even exercise her own will until the moment she spies Laurent. In the ensuing storm of passion, Therese lets loose for the first time in her life. She may get swept away to dark places, but Olsen can't help but admire her willingness to dare try for more.

"She is a young woman who has been repressed in her every natural impulse and stripped of all choices. So as soon as she has a chance to make one choice for herself, she seizes that opportunity," observes Olsen. "Suddenly, she's discovering her body, her sexuality and a personality that has always been shoved away. I think she's really quite a brave person. Her bravery doesn't manifest in the most positive or moral of ways - but then, I'd always prefer to play a character who's flawed than not."

Olsen dove into the cracks of Therese's flaws in a performance that grows more and more complex as her fortunes rise and fall. At first, she is a woman tasting pleasure for the first time. But when Therese realizes what she and Laurent are going to do to her husband Camille - who for all his tepid nature remains her closest friend - she begins to slowly fall to pieces. "Camille and Therese were really like brother and sister," Olsen explains. "They never had a real marriage, but he was a good man, and later, Therese comes to the shattering realization that she really did love him."

Olsen relished the challenges of revealing Therese's inner and outer changes as she moves from repression to obsession to festering anger to longing for nothing more than forgiveness. "I had the chance to explore the full gamut of this woman's emotionality, and how she changes physically, sexually and psychologically," she says.

Having appeared earlier in the horror film SILENT HOUSE, which was executive produced by Mickey Liddell, Olsen was especially delighted to work with Liddell again on IN SECRET. "I truly find him to be a rarity, in that he means what he says and he's a man of his word. I have so much trust in him and appreciate him so much," says Olsen.

Working one-on-one with Stratton was also exhilarating for Olsen. "Charlie was terrific," she says. "He really wanted to tell this story through Therese's point of view, so it was very exciting to jump into that."

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