‘WandaVision’: 1 Episode Made Elizabeth Olsen Feel Like a ‘Child at Theater Camp’; ‘You’re Failing in Front of People’

WandaVision was not only a major departure for Marvel from its previous formula in movies, but it was also a big change for Elizabeth Olsen playing Wanda Maximoff. She was able to explore her character like never before. From comedy and different eras of American television, Olsen and the WandaVision cast created something unique within the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and on TV in general. 

The first episode of WandaVision even replicated the tradition of having a live studio audience. And that was a bit hard for Olsen at first.  

‘WandaVision’ Episode 1 was filmed in front of a live audience

Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in 'WandaVision' Episode 1 sitting side by side on a sofa smiling
Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in ‘WandaVision’ Episode 1 | Disney+ / Marvel Studios

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WandaVision was the first show in Marvel’s rollout of Disney+ content. The series focuses on Wanda’s creation of a fake reality where Vision is alive and they live happily in suburban New Jersey. 

Because the first few episodes are recreations of sitcoms in different eras — the ’50s through ’70s — you’ll hear laughter and reactions from an audience. And in the first episode, that’s because the actors filmed in front of a live studio audience.

A featurette posted in January shows some of that. And the longer Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of WandaVision documentary on Disney+ goes in-depth into how the audience came to be. It turns out the two lead actors, Paul Bettany and Olsen, were a little nervous about that live audience. 

Elizabeth Olsen initially found it difficult to act in front of a live audience

Olsen told the Los Angeles Times’ The Envelope podcast that filming in front of a live audience is different. And she even said it’s different from acting in a theater, in which she has experience.

“I really didn’t understand intuitively how to play to the camera and not the audience with the audience there,” Olsen said. “And so when I watched that episode, I’m like, ‘God, it’s like I’m like a child at theater camp in this. I’m really playing to the audience.’ But then I remember that they kind of did have an element of playing to the audience in The Dick Van Dyke Show. … It really just felt like it wasn’t an easy transition. It was just like, bam! And you’re just there, and you’re failing in front of people.”

Olsen revealed that she started to “feel more comfortable” the more she did it. And as she went into the ‘60s and ‘70s episodes, she found her footing with the comedy. However, those episodes weren’t filmed in front of an audience.

Olsen felt most comfortable with the ‘Modern Family’ episode

It was the Modern Family-inspired WandaVision episode of the 2010s that Olsen said she related to the most.

“I just was so fricken tired,” Olsen remembered, describing how it was right around Christmas time. “I just felt that way. I just felt like, ‘Well I’m gonna try this, and if it doesn’t work who cares?’ That was kind of my attitude, which is kind of the attitude of that genre. That felt easy enough in some ways.” 

Olsen said she’s been begging someone to send her comedic scripts for a while now. And with WandaVision over, she definitely wants to do more comedy going forward. 

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