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The Scary Medical Condition Elizabeth Olsen Faced While Filming A Movie

Nicki Swift 11/13/2022 Alani Vargas
Elizabeth Olsen green eyes © Amy Sussman/Getty Images Elizabeth Olsen green eyes

Even though Elizabeth Olsen made a name for herself by filming for the Marvel Cinematic Universe on green screens, imagining characters and her surroundings as she went, she's also worked on countless other projects that filmed on location. While Wanda Maximoff may be her best-known role to date, she began as an independent film darling. Olsen's first-ever movie was "Martha Marcy May Marlene" in 2011, where she played a recovering cult member who was brainwashed and then abused by a cult in the Catskill Mountains. And that was filmed in those mountains, as well as a couple of other locations — not on a soundstage (via IMDb).

But when it came to 2017's "Wind River," Olsen didn't come away unharmed. She wasn't injured due to on-set conditions or because of a stunt gone wrong. That's something that would be more likely to happen on a Marvel set. But Olsen did injure her eyes, even if she didn't go fully blind. 

Elizabeth Olsen Got Snow Blinded While Filming In Utah

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner smiling © Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner smiling

While filming 2017's "Wind River" in Utah, Elizabeth Olsen developed a medical condition called snow blindness which left her eyes sunburnt and bloodshot (via DailyMotion). The "WandaVision" actor appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2016 and explained that she wasn't fully blind, but due to filming on snowy mountains at 10,000 to 11,000 feet elevation, she didn't protect her eyes as she should have. She explained that she figured she was fine and wanted to enjoy the sun while filming in the cold environment and refused to use an umbrella or protective goggles when they were offered. "My eyes were so bloodshot that I was continually weeping," Olsen said.

Olsen also spoke to ScreenRant in August 2017 once "Wind River" was finally released and spoke about the experience again. "I didn't actually go blind, but that is what everyone was like that's what snow blindness is," she said. She then explained that "the ice is just reflectors" of the sun "straight into your eyeballs." Without proper protection, you, too, could develop bloody eyes like Olsen's. Jeremy Renner, her co-star on this and other projects, told ScreenRant that despite the tough cold, filming in that weather is a "beautiful thing." "It's unapologetic sort of storytelling and raw and truthful. The elements, as well as the writing, work together."

Filming On Location Was Tough (But Worth It) For Elizabeth Olsen

Elizabeth Olsen short hair © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Elizabeth Olsen short hair

"Wind River," the movie Elizabeth Olsen was filming when she got snow blindness, was filmed on location in Utah. The movie is about the murder of a Native American woman on a reservation and the systemic issues that led to that. Olsen told Collider in 2017 that something that really stood out to her about the story was the "sad, systemic problems of reservation versus Federal Law and how little we provide as a government for resources to these reservations."

The area where "Wind River" was filmed was snowy and cold while shooting, and Olsen described the scene for People in August 2017. "It wasn't so cold that, like when I watch 'Game of Thrones,' that looks like the end of the world," she said. "Even if they're in the proper smart socks and the foot warmers, your feet eventually lose feeling at a certain time of the day." While Olsen did prepare for the role for months due to her character having to handle guns in the film, there really isn't a way to prepare for that cold. But Olsen shared that, despite her vision impairment and the freezing temps, it was well worth the experience. "It was incredible to get to film in those conditions because it's what's in the script and...it's the obstacle that's there," the actor told Collider. "You don't have to think about it, you're already fighting it."

Read this next: Actors Who Claim They Were Abused On Set

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