33 Surprising Facts About Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

The ultra-famous and super-private fashion moguls turn 33 on June 13

By Tierney Bricker 13 Jun, 2019 10:00 AMTags
Related: Mary-Kate & Ashley's "It Takes Two": A Blast From Interviews Past

It's June 13 and most millennial women know what that means: It's the Olsen twins' birthday.

Any true fan of the super-famous and super-private sisters doesn't need the fun club kit to remind them of the fact that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turn 33 today, ringing in another year of rare public appearances and impossibly chic street style that has Instagram salivating (even though the Olsens would never dare go on social media).

At the height of their fame in their teens, it seemed like we knew every little thing about Mary-Kate and Ashley, but as they disappeared from the spotlight and focused on building their fashion empire, they became petite enigmas, endlessly fascinating and impossibly unknowable.

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33 Surprising Facts You Might Not Know About Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Despite their best efforts to remain mysterious, we've collected some facts about the world's most famous twins, including which of their Full House co-stars tried to have them fired from the hit ABC show and how a Greek shipping heir ignited a public feud with Paris Hilton.

So test your Olsen knowledge and see if you knew these 33 things about Mary-Kate and Ashley...we'll try to blow your mind by dinnertime with these tidbits...

1. While many people can't tell them apart, Mary-Kate and Ashley are not identical, but fraternal: Mary-Kate is one inch taller than her sister and is left-handed, while Ashley is right-handed. (Ashley is two minutes older too, FYI.)

2. There was a simple reason Mary-Kate and Ashley jointly landed the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House when they were just nine months old: they didn't cry during the audition. But that didn't mean they didn't cry during filming, with John Stamos once admitting that he almost got the girls fired.

"It's sort of true that the Olsen twins cried a lot," Stamos told reporters in 2015. "It was very difficult to get the shot." He said it's "actually 100 percent accurate" that he tried to get them replaced. "They brought in a couple of unattractive redheaded kids. We tried that for a while and that didn't work," he said. So producers summoned the Olsen twins back in. "And that's the story."

3. Viewers saw the twins experience a lot of firsts on Full House during its seven-year run, including their first steps and words. Plus, they actually had to wear dentures early on for continuity purposes. Pro-tip if you ever want to know who is playing Michelle in scenes during the later seasons: Mary-Kate usually handled the more comedic moments, while Ashley took on the more dramatic scenes. (Later on in their career, Mary-Kate would often take on tomboy roles, while Ashley would usually play the "girly-girl" type.)

"They had so much emotion and they were adorable and they had these giant big blue eyes," creator Jeff Franklin told Variety of casting the twins as infants. "Every week, they were giving us something that we might have hoped for, but we never really expected, and then all kinds of fun surprises on top of it."

4. After Full House, the Olsens actually went on to star in two of their own TV series in addition to their uber-successful direct-to-DVD movie empire. Two Of a Kind was part of the TGIF line-up from 1998-99, though it was canceled due to low ratings.

In 2002, So Little Time aired for just one season on Fox Family (which late became ABC Family and then Freeform), and some episodes were turned into books, with 17 being released. Mary-Kate earned a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2002 for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for So Little Time.

5. Curious who were the Olsen twins' first on-screen kisses? Just pop in Passport to Paris, which featured Mary-Kate kissing Ethan Peck, Gregory Peck's grandson, and Ashley kissing Brocker Way. 

6. When Dualstar Entertainment Group launched in 1993, it made the then six-year-old twins producers and owners of the production company that would release all of their 47 direct-to-DVD movies and music video series (including The Adventures Of...and You're Invited to...franchises). 

The films, while successful, weren't exactly challenging, with Mary-Kate later telling W Magazine, "We didn't have to dig too deep. We were playing cutesy little twins who solved mysteries. There was no depth to any of the characters. It was somebody else's idea of ourselves. It was very much people-pleasing as opposed to actually, I guess, working for it."

Of becoming CEOs at such a young age, Ashley told WWD in 2013, "We couldn't see over the top of the table. I always looked at myself, even as a kid, as a businesswoman."

Even at a young age, they were focused on the bigger picture and building a longterm brand. "I don't think it ever felt like we were actresses," Mary-Kate explained, "because we spent so much more of our time not in front of the cameras, building a brand."

During this time, they released albums, a magazine, a clothing line with Walmart, a cosmetics line, board games, video games, an animated TV series, and a line of bedroom furniture. They eventually became the youngest self-made millionaires, and when they turned 18, they joined the list of the richest teenagers in the world when they took full ownership of Dualstar. Their estimated combined net worth? Around $300 million.

While Dualstar eventually shut down, Hulu brought some of their biggest releases to their streaming service in May 2019, including Passport to Paris and Holiday in the Sun

7. New York Minute, just the twins' second theatrical release after 1995's It Takes Two, would end up being Mary-Kate and Ashley's final film together, earning a disappointing $14 million when it was released in 2004. In fact, the movie would serve as Ashley's final acting credit ever, with Mary-Kate going on to appear in the TV series Weeds before making her final on-screen turn in 2011's Beastly

"I don't like to be the center of attention anymore," Ashley told Elle UK of leaving the acting world. "It doesn't mean I'm not interested in Hollywood. I like the way it operates, I like the people who are involved and the sense of possibility. But if I ever get back in, it's not going to be as an actress."

8. Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario actually grew up with the twins, revealing in an interview with Huffington Post, "I grew up across the street from them so we used to play all the time." They lost touch when the twins moved away, but randomly reconnected with Bellisario auditioned for Billboard Dad, their 1998 movie. "I showed up on set and I came out of my trailer, and they came out of their trailer and it was just like, 'What are you doing here!?'" she recalled to Buzzfeed. "It was really weird."

9. In 2004, the sisters faced a major decision: Make their Saturday Night Live hosting debut or attend their senior prom. They ended up choosing NYC's most famous stage over a high school student's biggest night, with Mary-Kate saying, "I didn't realize they were the same night until someone asked me what I was going to wear. That's when I was like, 'It's the same night! Oh no, what are we going to do?' A few seconds later, I said, 'SNL, of course.'"

Ashley added, "We couldn't pass up the opportunity to do a show we love, especially when we enjoy making fun of our image so much."

While they initially considered asking their school if the date for prom could be changed, they decided against it, with Ashley admitting, "We thought that if the tabloids got hold of a story like that, they'd never let us live it down!"

They ended up joking about missing out on their prom in their opening monologue, with Ashley saying, "We'll never know what it's like to ride in a limo and wear fancy dresses and have someone do our hair." When Mary-Kate pointed out that's pretty much a daily occurrence for them, Ashley explained, "Yeah, but not at a Marriot!"

10. After the release of New York Minute and their high school graduation in June 2004, it was revealed that Mary-Kate had checked in a treatment facility for an eating disorder, which came after her tiny frame at the New York Minute premiere made headlines.

"This is a challenge that Mary-Kate has made a decision to face," her rep at the time told People. "This is a challenge she will meet."

Mary-Kate has never publicly spoken about her reported eating disorder, but somewhat opened up about seeking help in 2008 interview with Elle magazine.

"I think it's important that what anybody goes through—and I'm not saying that it's true or not true—you realize it's part of growing up," she said. "Everybody is going to go through hard times. It's a part of life. I think the hardest part to get to is that point of asking for help or reaching out to other people and being honest with yourself."

11. In 2005, MK ended up in a public love triangle-turned-feud when her then-boyfriend Stavros Niarchos III ended up leaving her for Paris Hilton. Classic Greek shipping heir move, right?

"[Paris and I] always only had nice things to say about each other," she told W Magazine after it all went down, revealing she actually introduced her ex-BF and the Simple Life star. "Now I guess you can tell we're not talking."

Soon after the affair, a devastated MK made the decision to drop out of college and move back to Los Angeles. When asked by the publication why she was moving, she simply said, "I think we can all guess."

12. Some of MK's other big romances included Henry Winkler's son Max WinklerDavid Katzenberg, who is the son of Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and would go on to date Nicky Hilton, another oil heir in Max Snow (also Uma Thurman's nephew), and a reported hookup with Josh Hartnett. from 2008 to 2010, She dated artist Nate Lowman.

13. Ashley also has had her fair share of relationships over the years, beginning with USC quarterback Matt Kaplan, her first serious boyfriend she dated she she was 15-18. She then dated her fair share of NYC nightlife figures, including Scott Sartiano and Gregg Chaitt before a quick romance with Lance Armstrong, and a rumored hookup with Jared Leto (Never confirmed, obviously.) She then dated The Hangover star Justin Bartha for three years and sparking engagement rumors before calling it quits in 2011. After that, she was linked to film director Bennett Miller, artist George Condo, and Richard Sachs, a financier who was 28 years her senior.

Now, Ashley is dating L.A.-based artist Louis Eisner, whom she was first spotted with in October 2017, and he's her first boyfriend that is younger than her, weighing in at 31 years old. 

14. In 2012, Mary-Kate began dating Olivier Sarkozy, her future husband and the half-brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Their 17-year age difference made headlines, but Mary-Kate wasn't all that concerned with the public perception about her older beau. 

"Everyone has an opinion," Mary-Kate told WSJ Magazine of the media attention. "I find it's better to focus on what's in front of you and to keep putting one foot in front of the other."

In November 2015, Mary-Kate and Olivier secretly wed in front of 50 close friends and family, with their wedding reception becoming infamous after the detail that bowls of cigarettes acted as the centerpieces. "Everyone smoked the whole night," a likely raspy-voiced insider told us at the time.

Since then, Mary-Kate has settled into married life, briefly opening up about balancing her professional and personal sides in a 2017 interview, saying, "I have a husband, two stepkids and a life; I have to go home and cook dinner. I ride horses on the weekends. You find the thing that helps you relax, and if you don't have it, you have to look for it. Or you get burned out, and then you're not productive."

15. The Hills star Spencer Pratt once bragged about selling a photo of Mar-Kate drinking at a party when they attended the same high school, telling Details magazine in 2007 that he made $50,000. In 2008, Mary-Kate would infamously describe him as "wormy" and "oily" during an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman

16. In the mid-aughts, the Olsen twins style became trend-setting and headline-making, with the New York Times infamously dubbing it "dumpster chic." They wore giant sunglasses, artfully baggy clothing, and carried Balenciaga bags bigger than they were as they attended college in New York City, both enrolled at NYU. (Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa even dressed up as the sisters for Halloween one year.) 

The fashion icons were well aware of the public's fascination with their style, with Ashley saying in 2009, "I think you're either born with a sense of style or you're not. Either you care or you don't. And we love fashion. When we were going to NYU, I think that was the first time we were aware of the power of our personal style. Not the power of it, but the result of it. Between the big sunglasses and the Starbucks cup and the big sweaters, the hobo-chic thing, we were more shocked than anything."

17. Around the same  time, the Olsens were rarely spotted without a Starbucks cup in hand. The coffee wasn't just an accessory though for the new college co-eds, it was an essential, as Mary-Kate once explained to W Magazine, "When I was younger, on weekends, my mom would make us pancakes with our initials on them and then a tiny cup of coffee. I remember at 10 sneaking my own coffee and pouring a ton of sugar in and going up to the playroom and drinking it." (Her go-to order at the time, when she was downing two to four beverages a day? Either a chai latte or a skim latte.)

18. Some of the big stars who previously appeared in Olsen twin movies? Will & Grace star Eric McCormack played their dad in Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, which also starred Cloris Leachman. Michael Cera had a small role in Switching Goals, Chicago Fire star wooed Mary-Kate in Winning London, and The Walking Dead's Austin Nichols was her love interest in Holiday in the Sun. Plus, Megan Fox played their nemesis in Holiday in the Sun, Sex and the City's Willie Garson grilled them as a special agent in Our Lips Are Sealed, with Jason Clarke playing one of Australia-set villains...though he didn't use his real accent for some reason?  

New York Minute also had familiar faces, including Schitt's Creek and American Pie star Eugene Levy, Andy Richter, Darrell HammondSupernatural's Jared Padalecki, Jack Osbourne and Riley Smith.

19. Since a young age, Mary-Kate has been an avid horseback rider, even going on to ride competitively (most recently competing in May 2019). "I was six when I first fell in love and it was with a pony named 4x4," Mary-Kate revealed in her HITS rider profile. "Having horseback riding as an outlet was super important because it allowed me to have another life and outlet outside of work and school."

20. In stark contrast to most of their millennial peers, the Olsens have only taken one public selfie. Just one, which was in service of a work obligation when they took over Sephora's Instagram account in 2016. (Both sisters are social media-free.)

"First public selfie ever," the pair wrote while posing in black sunglasses and matching tops. "@ElizandJames #SephoraTakeover."

After living their entire lives in front of the cameras, the Olsens decided to remain off social media and rarely give interviews, letting their clothes do the (most of) talking for them. "When we were younger, being in the public eye was almost part of our role and responsibility – to set the trends at that time or be ahead of fashion," Mary-Kate explained to The Edit

"We don't dive into that world [of social media]," Ashley added. "We don't have Instagram or Facebook. We've stayed quite sheltered."

Still, that hasn't stopped Instagram from being obsessed with the Olsens' style

21. The Olsen twins are so private and paparazzi-averse that they inspired a New York City art exhibit called "The Olsen Twins Hiding From the Paparazzi," which featured artwork from Laura Collins and  ran for two weeks in April and May of 2016 at the Think 19994 Museum. Collins painted portraits of the Olsen twins hiding behind an assortment of objects, including high end purses, coffee cups, turtlenecks and each other. 

22. When Ashley and Mary-Kate launched their high-end fashion line The Row in 2006, initially inspired by Ashley's determination to create the perfect white t-shirt. They chose the name The Row—"an anonymous name loosely derived from Savile Row, the home of British tailoring," per Vogue, to avoid the stigma around celebrity clothing lines. 

23. In 2007, they launched their second line, Elizabeth and James, and while most people believed it was named after their siblings, younger sister Elizabeth Olsen and older brother James "Trent" Olsen, MK told WWD, "We wanted it to be based on a relationship between a young girl and a boy and tell the story through clothing." (A rep for the brand also denied the report to People.) 

24. Before her breakout performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene in 2011, little sister Elizabeth was actually known as "Lizzie" to most early-era Olsen fans, after she appeared in some of their earlier movies, infamously being told to "B-U-T-T out" via song. Since then, Elizabeth has become one of the most sought-after actresses of her generation, joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Scarlet Witch. 

But Elizabeth doesn't really remember acting in their straight-to-DVD movies, telling Jimmy Fallon, "the actual experience of doing it I don't remembers so much."

Elizabeth, now 30, retired from acting briefly at age 10, eventually going on to study it in college, wanting to make her own name, even if people would show up at her dorm room because of her famous older sisters. 

"Their fame made me more determined to study. I knew I wanted to be an actor, but I also didn't want to start working when I was under 18," she said in 2012. "These days, my sisters are mainly an inspiration as business people, and whenever I feel like I'm ready to package some project of my own, they'll probably be the first people I'll talk to for advice. Also, I love their fashion lines...I practically live at their clothes company when I'm [in New York]."

25. Older brother Trent (who goes by his middle name) also appeared in some of their earlier films and inspired the "Brother For Sale" song, but he didn't pursue an acting career, graduating from the film department at the University of Southern California. 

While they offered to sell him for 50 cents in their infamous song about him, Trent apparently was netting a lot more for his famous sisters' autographs in grade school. "He would sell his sisters' autographed photos," a former classmate told Page Six in 2011. "I definitely bought one. We all did!"

26. Ashley may have helped Carey Mulligan land the role of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby remake in 2013 opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.

"I couldn't believe what they did when I texted in a panic about having nothing to wear for my audition for Gatsby," Mulligan revealed to Vogue. "I was hoping they'd send me some things from The Row, but then these huge boxes arrived—Ashley's entire collection of thirties vintage dresses."

27. When Netflix rebooted Full House with the sequel series Fuller House in 2015 with most of the original cast reprising their roles from the '90s hit, Mary-Kate and Ashley declined to make an appearance (leading to many fourth-wall shattering references on the series). 

"Although Ashley and Mary-Kate will not be a part of Fuller House, I know how much Full House has meant to them and they are still very much considered family," executive producer Robert L. Boyett said in a May 2015 statement. "It has been exciting to see how they have built their professional careers, and I support their choice to focus on their fashion brands and various business endeavors. I appreciate their support and good wishes towards Fuller House."

But Mary-Kate did briefly consider making a cameo, with executive producer, Bob Boyett, telling People, "Mary-Kate said, 'It would have to be me because Ash doesn't want to do it, but the timing is so bad for us."

28. Series creator Franklin briefly considered asking Elizabeth to take over Michelle Tanner duties for her sisters, telling E! News, "In our moment of disappointment, John Stamos and I talked about what to do and we thought for a moment, what if? We've known Elizabeth since she was a little girl." 

He never made an official offer, with Elizabeth later confirming she was never pitched the idea, telling us, "If I did, I'm pretty sure no one on my team heard it. I don't know where that started."

29. Still, the Olsens have remained close with their Full House co-stars over the years, often reuniting with TV dad Bob Saget (who they asked to make a cameo in New York Minute) and TV uncle John Stamos. 

30. The twins decided to bring their ready-to-wear line Elizabeth and James to the masses in April 2019, announcing an exclusive partnership with Kohl's, with Ashley saying in a statement, "We have always seen Elizabeth and James speaking to a much larger audience and this new business model with Kohl's will allow us to achieve that. Mary-Kate and I are excited to work with them building out additional lifestyle categories and curating spaces that will bring a new shopping experience to our customer."

The exclusive collection will be a "lifestyle brand" that will take the brand "into a new era," Mary-Kate said; the partnership will include apparel, handbags, accessories, and beauty and will be available beginning this holiday season.

31. One thing MK has never done? "I've never purchased anything online," she revealed to Vogue.com, with her sister adding, "I prefer to see, touch, feel, and experience."

32. Earlier this month, the moguls took home Accessory Designer of the Year for The Row, for their collection of ready-to-wear, handbags, eyewear, and footwear, at the CFDA Awards, making it their fifth win at the esteemed event. Their work on The Row, which they launched 13 years ago, earned them the Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2012 and 2015, after they became the youngest designers to ever be inducted into the association back in 2009.

33. Mary-Kate and Ashley consider their relationship more like "a marriage," given how close they are. 

"It's been 32 years of learning how to communicate," Ashley said of their unique bond in a 2018 WSJ Magazine interview, calling their relationship "a marriage and a partnership. We have had ups and downs...We do everything together."

Mary-Kate jokingly added. "We came out of the womb doing that."