Sarah Paulson On ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ by Uinterview

Sarah Paulson, best known for her work on the small screen in series like Jack & Jill, stars alongside Elizabeth Olsen in the critically acclaimed Martha Marcy May Marlene. Paulson was originally attracted to this psychological drama when she saw Mary Last Seen, a short film by the director of Martha Marcy May Marlene, Sean Durkin. “It was an eight minute movie, and it was so wonderful, and very clear that he was an incredible director and also the script … I thought it was a very true depiction of what two sisters would actually go through if they had really been estranged,” Paulson told Uinterview in an exclusive video interview.

In the new film, Paulson plays Lucy, the estranged sister of Martha, played by Olsen, who eventually allows Martha to stay with her at her lake house in Connecticut after Martha escapes from an abusive cult. Shortly thereafter, Lucy discovers that Martha is the girl she used to know. Working with costar Elizabeth Olsen was a special treat for Paulson. “My experience working with Elizabeth Olsen was probably one of the best I’ve ever had. I mean, she had very little experience, but was an incredible pro,” remarks Paulson.

CHECK OUT: SARAH PAULSON’S uBIO

Though the movie is psychologically draining and shocking at times, the set seems to have been a much nicer place. Asked about her favorite story from set, Paulson says she most enjoyed passionarly singing “You Don’t Owe Me” with Olsen. “It was much to the crew’s dismay. It was not a pretty sight but we kept doing it anyway.”

For more on Sarah Paulson and Martha Marcy May Marlene:

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Q: Hi Sarah, this is Courtney from Brooklyn. This film had an unusual script. What attracted you to this role? - CourtneyDunn

What attracted me to the material was I had seen a short film that Sean Durkin had directed that I think was the grand prize for best short at Cannes. I think that's what happened. It was an eight minute movie, and it was so wonderful, and very clear that he was an incredible director and also the script ... I thought it was a very true depiction of what two sisters would actually go through if they had really been estranged. You could feel, even on the page, the awkwardness and the difficulty they had sort of reengaging with each other, and I thought that was very accurate. So it wasn't over-written. When you see the movie there's a lot of the movie that feels very spare and it's not, nobody over-talks anything, which felt very realistic for families, and I thought that was a very interesting thing to portray.

Q: What was your experience like working with Elizabeth Olsen in the film? - CourtneyDunn

My experience working with Elizabeth Olsen was probably one of the best I've ever had. I mean, she had very little experience, but was an incredible pro. I've said this to a lot of people who ask but, when I was 21, if I had to take on a role of this magnitude and this depth, [I] probably would've been curled up in a ball listening to sad music and thinking about my dead dog to get me into some emotional place and she was just able to do it without doing all that extra stuff. She was very light of spirit and we just joked around all the time. We sang a lot of songs like goobers on the set in between takes and she's really a fun-loving free spirit who happens to be a really, really remarkable actress.

Q: With all the interesting personalities working on the film, do you have any stories from the set? - Uinterview User

Probably memorable would be Elizabeth Olsen singing 'You don't Own Me' from the 'First Wives Club' on the dock, down by the water where she spent a lot of time getting in that water. We have a big scene on the boat, we just spent a lot of time shaking our fingers in the air and singing 'You Don't Own Me' like we were Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. It was much to the crew's dismay. It was not a pretty sight, but we kept doing it anyway.

Q: Hi Sarah, this is Emma from Boston. Were you expecting 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' to be so successful? - EmmaHickey

I think I was surprised. I wasn't surprised once I saw the movie, but I think before ... I was hearing that people were talking about it, I thought, 'Really? This little movie we shot up in upstate New York?' People are talking about this movie and I saw it at Sundance and I thought, 'Oh, this movie is really good. I'm so proud to be in it.'