“Best known for her appearances as Mrs. Dodds/The Fury in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Paranormal Activity 3, American Horror Story and Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, Maria Olsen has worked on more than 100 feature films and over 150 shorts, television shows, music videos and commercials since 2005.”
She also appeared in a national commercial during the 2018 Academy Award ceremony!! *BTS Entertainment Corner Trivia
1) Well, I believe this may be my third or fourth interview with you over the last several years Maria, and it’s always a pleasure! Not only are you an amazing actress and director, but you help so many others out as well. Let’s start with one of your latest ventures, I’m talking about your “The MOnster Shares Auditions” FB group. It’s a great resource to find auditions, how do you do it?
Well, if I gave away all my secrets there’d be no reason for anyone to join my group! Seriously, I’m a member of a gazillion Facebook acting groups, and I have a full roster of 5,000 friends, so I figured out a way to search through my groups’ and friends’ databases for certain hot terms like “audition” and “casting”. Then I just take a look at the posts that turn up in the search and share them with my group.
Originally, I was doing this just for myself, but then I thought, “Why not let everyone share in the opportunities I’m finding?” With this in mind, I created the group and invited everyone to join. It’s open to talent with all levels of experience and from anywhere in the US. A lot of people are saying they’re finding opportunities there they would never otherwise have found, and my Lil MOnsters are booking projects too, which makes me just SO happy!
Come and join us, and above all: Go Get ‘Em, Lil MOnsters!!!!
2) The last time we talked (on the air, “What’s the Story?” radio show) it was actually a double interview with you and actress Jamie Bernadette for the movie “I Spit on Your Grave Déjà vu”. Great interview with you ladies, and you let us know this version actually had the original director from the first film tied to it. How is that film doing?
Jamie and I recently heard from the producers that the film is now officially out of post-production! We haven’t yet been told how, and through whom, it will be distributed, though, but, as soon as we know, and as soon as we have been given permission to share, we will be shouting it from the rooftops. We’re holding thumbs that it will be out before the end of the year.
3) Now here’s a fun question I’ve never gotten to ask anyone. What was it like being in an Academy Award/Oscars commercial? Did you have a watch party? C’mon, give all the details, I saw it and recognized you immediately! Congrats BTW!! It was cool! (BTW folks, this was the commercial that looked like the movie The Shining.)
A few months ago, I submitted for an innocent looking commercial job : Housekeeper wanted for the Overlook Hotel, 50s, severe looking. I noticed the name – Overlook(!) — but never thought anything of it. I was very excited to be called in for an audition — and, while driving to the audition venue, I passed the building that’s being constructed to house the Academy Museum, and I marveled at how beautiful it was going to be — and I thoroughly enjoyed auditioning for the spot. I did mention I knew all about Stephen King’s The Shining and The Overlook Hotel, and I think my love of horror proved to be a plus!
I auditioned on the Monday, and I had a good feeling about it. On Tuesday, I was told that I had booked the job, and on Wednesday, I was rushed into the production offices in Hollywood for a fitting. On Friday, we shot the commercial, and I cannot tell you how exciting it was to be working on exact replicas of the iconic sets from The Shining. Given my lifelong love of horror, I was especially excited, and I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT when I was told that the spot was actually going to air on the drop-down screen in The Dolby Theater during the Academy Awards ceremony! We were also told that the spot was actually a highly stylized commercial for the Academy Museum – remember that beautiful building? — And that the director was extremely pleased with how I had performed!
After we wrapped, the wait began. I had signed an iron-clad Non-Disclosure Agreement, so I couldn’t say a word about the project to anyone! I bit my lip and lived through the next three weeks hoping against hope that the spot would actually air during the televised sections of the ceremony. I mean, if it was shown at the theater during a commercial break on TV, then everyone would see a commercial for Coca-Cola or something instead of me!!!
Finally the night came. As I, myself, do not have a TV set, I was dependent on people telling me whether or not it aired. I did catch a glimpse of The Dolby’s stage and the ceremony online, and it was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! I was very excited, absolutely terrified that it wouldn’t show on TV and awestruck that all of my heroes and heroines in the industry attending the ceremony would see my work.
When I got the text that the commercial had been shown on TV during the ceremony, I was absolutely ecstatic! Finally I could tell the world what I had been up to and share the commercial, and my work, with all my family, friends, followers and fans! My Facebook post was instantaneous, and I haven’t stopped getting comments on it since. I’ve also seen that the commercial has gone viral on some sites, and horror websites are also picking up the story and running with it. For a horror actress, this was a dream come true!
4) I have noticed that 2018 seems to have been pretty busy for you, anything coming up you can’t wait to talk about? C’mon, who we gonna tell?
So far, I’ve shot at least 12 feature films in 2018, and the year isn’t over yet! Let’s see if I can remember them all…
1. Ghost in the Graveyard in New York (horror)
2. Ashes in Los Angeles (horror comedy)
3. The Resort in Los Angeles (horror)
4. Arbor Day in New York (black comedy)
5. Wretch in Kansas and Missouri (fantasy drama / horror)
6. Krampus: Origins in Arizona (horror)
7. Amygdala in Colorado (crime thriller)
8. Bab in Los Angeles (apocalyptic thriller)
9. Moon Child in Los Angeles (fantasy drama)
10. Danni & The Vampire in Banning, CA (horror comedy)
11. BITS in Los Angeles (horror)
12. Genesis in Los Angeles (scifi drama)
Yes! All 12 are there!
5) I would like to pick your brain about acting a little. How do you build a character once you’re booked? Any one method or training system, or do you pull from several sources? Does it depend on the role?
It very much depends on the role — who the person or creature is — and also on the size of the role. Generally speaking, the larger the role, the more time is needed to create a character. The first thing I do is read the script, and then I move on to learning my lines. This is an unemotional exercise, and all I want to do is get words in my head. Once I’ve got that down, and if my role is super-large, I will go through the entire script and make character notes. I will then generally distill a character down into one or two over-arching traits and interpret everything she/it does in terms of those traits. Usually, for some reason, a character’s over-arching trait will be love. So you could say that all my human characters, even the most evil ones, are motivated by love.
6) Any quick audition tips you would like to share, that is, in person or video?
Quick audition tips: learn your lines (very well), know your character, don’t be nervous (you WANT to spend your life performing, don’t you?), do your best, don’t fall on your face!
7) Any last suggestions…warnings for us out here working our buns flat to move up the acting ladder?
Look out for yourself and for each other. Working in the industry can sometimes be a scary thing, especially with the increasing number of scams that are worming their way into online casting. Make sure that every project you get involved in is 100% legit.
When you do find the awesome, legit projects, work your butt off to be a part of them. Don’t wait for anyone to hand anything to you; they won’t. You have to do the majority, if not all, of the work yourself.
Help others wherever you can. It’s a hard industry, and everyone should help to raise their colleagues up, not tear them down.
It boils down to: work hard and be nice.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/MariaOlsenFanPage/
The MOnster Shares Auditions: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2061874690550489/