Elizabeth Olsen as "Sarah"
Elizabeth Olsen is often asked: What is the strangest thing you have ever done
during an audition? A question she has never been able to answer. That is, until
SILENT HOUSE came along.
"The audition was a very strange thing because there are very few dialogue-heavy
scenes to use for an audition," the actress recalls. "One of the scenes I had to
do was literally find a key, which was weird. They were scenes from a script
that wasn't final. I think there was even a scene from the ending that had
nothing to do with what we ended up filming. And I had to pretend I was running
away from something behind the door. That was definitely funny, it's much like
'You're in a box, in a hole and you need to get out. Let's see that.'"
For the role of Sarah, Kentis and Lau needed someone who could push themselves
to extraordinary levels of emotion and fear, but also maintain the strength to
physically carry the audience along for the ride since Sarah is on screen nearly
every minute of the film.
"We had a relationship with Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee, the casting directors,
and we had been working with them on several projects," Lau says. "When SILENT
HOUSE came up we turned to them. They had cast Jennifer Lawrence in WINTER'S
BONE and when we brought them SILENT HOUSE they knew exactly who should fill the
part. Lizzie came in and she was perfect."
Kentis says Olsen was the first actress to audition for Sarah, "She was perfect,
but it seemed too easy", they felt they needed to do their due diligence and see
other actresses. "And we did see other people, but Lizzie was always the person
Impressed by her maturity, charisma and depth, Kentis and Lau ultimately chose
Olsen who was fresh off of shooting MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and PEACE, LOVE &
MISUNDERSTANDING. It was on the former film where Olsen heard of LA CASA MUDA.
"All of the guys working on MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE saw the original and said
the first hour and fifteen minutes were the most terrifying thing they had
seen," says Olsen. "I love horror movies, I like being scared, and I laugh my
ass off, screaming and laughing as an audience member." One film she avoided,
however, was Kentis and Lau's OPEN WATER. "I have a fear of the ocean - a really
irrational fear and I have a huge fear of sharks that prevents me from going
into the water, so I will not see it. I trust my older brother's opinion greatly
because we have similar tastes. Knowing he loved it so much, I trusted him."
With a sibling's recommendation of OPEN WATER and trusted crew members endorsing
LA CASA MUDA, Olsen looked at starring in an American remake of the latter as
nothing but positive - and similar to how Kentis and Lau felt - a challenge. "To
me, it was remaking a movie that has potential, but you make it better and make
it stand on its own," says Olsen. "It reminds me of the French film THEM [aka
ILS], where these strangers come into this couple's home and terrorize them. I
think this film fits somewhere within that. It's not BLAIR WITCH-y, because the
camera is so much smarter than that film. I personally don't like horror movies
that are about slicing and dicing. I like feeling claustrophobic and that is
where this one goes."
"She is rigorous," Kentis explains. "The effort she's put in to her craft - she
studied theater in Russia and for a movie like this with incredibly long takes,
she had the ability to step up to the challenges. The camera loves her and if
you have a movie where the camera is going to be on one protagonist for so long
you want someone you're going to want to watch."
Lau continues, "The key was always Lizzie's performance. You have to believe and
care about her and what she's going through."
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