FULL TILT TO THE TOP!
They're only seven, but for the twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen it's Full Tilt to the top!
Now approaching the ripe old age of eight, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, twin stars of the immensely popular and long-running television series Full House, were just nine months old when they first shared the role of Michelle in 1987. While auditions usually terrify actors trying out for roles, Mary-Kate and Ashley slept through much of theirs! Their parents had sent some family snapshots to a talent agency, encouraged by a friend's agent who worked there. "We didn't think anything would come of it," says their father, mortage banker Dave Olsen. But the agency, liking what it saw, invited the twins to their first audition, for the pilot of Full House. Twins were necessary for the role of baby Michelle because child-labor laws in the U.S. strictly limit the time an infant can be on camera. "We saw seven sets of twins," recalls creator and executive producer Jeff Franklin, " but there was no contest. The other kids were crying. Ashley and Mary-Kate had a great time -happy kids, with those amazing blue eyes, who dropped off to sleep contentedly when the studio lights began to make them drowsy." Ashley and Mary-Kate have now become so popular with viewers that they have recorded an album, Brother For Sale, which now is nearing gold status, and there is a talk of "Michelle"doll going on sale throughout the U.S. And, in an unprecedented move for the girls their age, they have been signed to a lucrative deal that guarantees them a telemovie and their own series after Full House ends. Fame doesn't seem to have turned the twins' heads. To these remarkably well-adjusted youngsters, acting is simply lots of fun. "I like it because I have a dressing-room and we both have special teachers for our schooling," says Mary-Kate, and Ashley nods in agreement. "They don't think of acting as work - they never have," says Monica Roth, their nanny and a family friend. "They started out so young, it has now just become part of their life." It's clear that the twins love being in the limelight, and they got a big thrill recently when they were given the chance to sing with their favorite group, the Beach Boys, with whom their Full House co-star John Stamos tours as drummer. They listen to Beach Boys tapes most days on their way to work. Work (or play as these girls see it) takes up about half their week. Legally, they may rehearse and perform for a maximum of 6 and a half hours daily. They rehearse from 11 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays, pre-tape from 2.15 to 7 pm on wednesday and do final taping on Thursday from 5.30 to 8.30 pm. The remainder of the week is devoted to schooling. The girls who live with father Dave, mother Jarni, nine-year-old brother Trent and three-year-old sister Elizabeth in the San Fernando Valley, California. They share a room at home and dress alike, "although I don't like to" Mary-Kate admits. They have no time for boys, as yet, and collect stuffed animals. At last count, Ashley says, she had about 70. Favorite outgoings include playing with friends, going out for ice-cream and to the park. On the set of their TV "home", while one is acting the other can be found in the dressing-room surrounded by stuffed animals. Ashley is the more talkative of the two, according to Adrian Later, the twins' acting coach and teacher. "She's the rougher, tougher, spunkier of the two. We use her in scenes in which Michelle has to have a real attitude. For a sensitive scene we use Mary-Kate. Mary-Kate will do something 26 times if I ask her. Ashley's had enough after five or six." That doesn't mean that in their earlier days there weren't star tantrums. Franklin recalls one memorable scene in which a three-year-old Mary-Kate was required to have peanut butter smeared all over her hands. "She didn't like it and wanted us to wash it off. She said, 'If you don't, I'm going to start singing and I'm not going to stop'. That's exactly what she did! It was her first realisation that she could stop production. "It's easier now that they are nearly eigth. We explain to them what's going on in a scene and they quickly catch on and learn their lines and cues. They're amazing little troupers." The main problem has been handling the mobs of over-eager fans that are a byproduct of the girls' stardom. "Ashley and Mary-Kate are recognised just about everywhere we go," their father says. "It's too much attention - and all the time fans want to take photographs. "But the girls have really grown attached to John Stamos and the rest of the cast of Full House, who all spoil them, of course."
TV Week, July 8, 1993