Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are the most famous AND the most private twins in the world. They’ve jealously guarded their secrets from the public…but some telling and tragic ones have still managed to come out. Step inside the lives of the Olsen twins and find out the truth for yourself.
1. A Fluke Made Them Stars
Today, everyone knows Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for their toddler turn on Full House, jointly starring as the adorable and sassy Michelle Tanner. But most people don’t know the truth behind that iconic role. For one, the twins’ mother Jarnette had only entered them into a casting agency on a whim and didn’t expect them to get hired. And that was far from all.
2. They Got The Job For One Reason
Although there’s no denying the Olsen twins were cute as buttons when they played Michelle Tanner, that’s not exactly why the producers of Full House chose them. Instead, labor laws prevented any infant actor from working more than 20 minutes at a time, so having twins to switch out was crucial for the show. That, and they didn't cry at the audition.
Still, it was far from smooth sailing for the girls. In fact, the producers lived to regret their choice.
3. They Were Difficult On Set
While in the early days of Full House, the twins began making big problems for the crew. Namely, as co-star John Stamos admitted, despite their tear-less audition, the pair of them cried nearly constantly while the cameras were rolling and made it “difficult to get the shot”. The girls were so unruly, the production had to go to drastic measures to solve the problem.
4. Full House Fired Them
Unbelievably, Full House fired the Olsen Twins from their first job before they were even a year old. That’s right, Stamos got so fed up with dealing with a pair of (literal) babies, he convinced producers to chuck Mary-Kate and Ashley from the show and replace them with another set of twins. But luckily for the girls, this had a twist ending.
5. Only One Of Them Wanted To Work
In the end, John Stamos didn’t get what he wanted. The show just didn’t seem to work without the Olsens, and Full House soon hired them back on. Yet the cracks were starting to show even then. Mary-Kate actually filmed most of the scenes in season one, because Ashley was “very much afraid to come on the set”. Still, if that’s the case, this makes their next move mystifying.
6. They Became Literal Girl Bosses
With the success of Full House under their belts, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen soon became mini moguls. In 1993, they founded Dualstar Entertainment and began releasing films like When in Rome and New York Minute. By the mid-2000s, the Olsen Twins were officially a brand. Yet no one could have known the horrible things happening behind closed doors.
7. They Hated Their Childhood
To the many people who grew up watching Mary-Kate and Ashley, the Olsens seemed to have the perfect lives. The real story was so much more heartbreaking. For one, the girls' hectic work schedule left them feeling like, as they later admitted, “little monkey performers”. Mary-Kate also confessed, "I would never wish my upbringing on anyone”.
Maybe that’s why their home life fell apart.
8. Their Family Life Fell Apart
In 1996, just as Mary-Kate and Ashley were hitting their stride at Dualstar, their parents dealt them a curveball: They told them they were divorcing. It didn’t just rock the twins, it also disrupted the lives of their older brother Trent and their younger sister Elizabeth. And while their father Dave Olsen played down the split and said it was amicable…that may not have been the truth.
9. They Broke Up Their Parents
In the wake of the Olsen family rift, uncomfortable accusations surfaced. Namely, In Touch Weekly reported that Jarleen and Dave had actually broken up over the twins and their career, with one of them wanting to pull them from the spotlight while the other insisted they go on. And in the end, it didn’t take long for fame to smash the girls to smithereens.
10. A Scandalous Photo Came Out
When she was just a teenager, an infamous photo came out of Mary-Kate that destroyed the wholesome, innocent image of the Olsen twins forever. In the snap, Mary-Kate is very clearly drinking at a party and looks startled and unsober. While this was par for the course for many girls her age, for the squeaky-clean Olsens it was practically the apocalypse.
More than that, the photograph’s origins are downright scandalous...
11. A Schoolmate Betrayed Them
Photos like that don’t just appear out of nowhere, and there was a very famous villain behind the leak. None other than The Hills pot-stirrer Spencer Pratt sold the photo for $50,000. He got the photo after attending the same party as Mary-Kate, and we know Pratt was behind it because he outright boasted about it to Details magazine.
But don’t you worry, Mary-Kate got very public revenge.
12. Mary-Kate Got Revenge
In the wake of the photograph, Mary-Kate and Ashley were characteristically tight-lipped. But years later, in a 2008 interview with David Letterman, Mary-Kate did let some revealing and unflattering tidbits about Pratt slip out, including her tart assertion that Pratt “does not have a very good temper”. When Letterman pointedly asked MK if Pratt was her friend, her answer was a curt and telling “no”.
Classy, MK. Unfortunately, Pratt retaliated—and he was not a gentleman.
13. They Made A Reality TV Enemy
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are famously not identical but rather fraternal—for example, Mary-Kate is left-handed while her sister is right-handed, and Ashley has a freckle on her lip that Mary-Kate doesn't. MK’s arch-rival Spencer Pratt took full advantage of this, spewing in a series of magazines that she was the “less cute twin”. Then he twisted the knife in.
Going all out, he called her “a famous troll”. But if Pratt knew what was going on in the twins’ lives, he might have stopped.
14. They Dealt With Harassment
It’s no great pronouncement to say that child stardom is horrific, but the Olsen twins’ adult lives proved that tenfold. As they neared their 18th birthday, disturbing sites popped up counting down to when they were “legal” to consent. And oh, the twins noticed: They gave a cease and desist letter to one of the worst perpetrators.
Yet the most infuriating and embarrassing moment surrounding their bedroom lives happened on camera.
15. A Journalist Asked Them A Very Personal Question
It’s not enough that private citizens were out there counting down the days until the twins turned 18; media outlets were also poking their noses around the same places. One day, it turned chilling. When the twins were just 16, Connie Chung actually asked them on air if they had lost their virginity yet. As it turned out, it was a complete breaking point.
16. They Have Tempers
As Ashley later remembered it, she “got really angry and defensive” at Chung. Mostly she was furious at the journalist for daring to ask such a personal question to someone who was only 16, not to mention the twins were constantly dealing with these kinds of invasions of privacy. It actually got so bad that one seemingly innocuous vacation turned into a nightmare.
17. The Paparazzi Hounded Them
Around the time of this disastrous Connie Chug interview, the girls went on a much-needed holiday to Hawaii. But even in this island paradise, they weren’t safe. Paparazzi hounded them endlessly until they got “candid” shots of the twins on the beach in their bikinis. When Ashley saw the photos, something in her snapped.
18. One Photo Made Ashley Cry
At this point, the twins had more than enough of their lives in the spotlight, and now the cracks really started to show. Ashley described to Rolling Stone how when she saw those intimate photos of her still-developing body, she began “crying hysterically”. She called it “my worst nightmare”. It’s no wonder, then, that the worst happened.
19. Dark Rumors Began Flowing About Them
As the twins were about to turn 18 and began to think about doing “normal” things like going to university, their life of fame took a terrifying toll. First, it just started with rumors that one or both of them were addicted to substances. After all, Mary-Kate in particular had lost an alarming amount of weight as the months went by.
The reality, however, was much different. And much darker.
20. Mary-Kate Had A Deadly Illness
The signs around Mary-Kate were vague at first. It started, to the best of our knowledge, with a “minor” car accident that MK had when she was still learning to drive. Likely as a result of the trauma, she began to eat less and less as time wore on, until it was clear she wasn’t eating enough to keep almost any weight on her already thin frame.
Slowly and yet suddenly, she had developed anorexia. When her family realized what was going on, they didn’t react well.
21. Their Family Tried To Force Her To Be Healthy
While Ashley maintained a healthy weight, her twin was withering. Desperate for anything that might work, her family made a grave mistake. They began threatening MK with various light punishments unless she ate, including taking away the Range Rover she bought herself for her sweet 16. They even hired a personal assistant solely to monitor what she ate.
Sadly, as many could have told them, this didn’t work. In fact, it just gave rise to some more troubling behaviors.
22. Mary-Kate Was A Master Liar
With her family watching her every move, Mary-Kate got scarily good at hiding her issues, not just from the press, but from people she saw every day. Dr. Drew Pinsky from Celebrity Rehab even spent the day with the twins and left calling Mary-Kate “the sweetest of the two”, all while admitting he “didn’t notice anything” that was outwardly the matter.
In the end, the Olsens felt they had only had one option left. It wasn’t a pretty one.
23. Their Parents Staged An Intervention
Just after Mary-Kate graduated high school, the twins got the shock of their lives. With no other path open to them, Mary-Kate’s parents forcibly put the minor into a top-notch treatment facility in remote Utah for a weeks-long stint. Even after she left the facility, Mary-Kate continued outpatient treatment. It took a long while for her to break her silence on the experience.
24. Mary-Kate Finally Spoke About Her Condition
In 2008, Mary-Kate finally addressed this dark period of her life—and even then, she kept everyone at arm’s length. That year, Elle profiled the Olsen twin, and Mary-Kate talked about how “asking for help” and “being honest with yourself” was an important part of growing up, very likely referring to her anorexia without talking about it.
Then again, by then the Olsen twins had moved on…but this phase of their lives had bigger pitfalls.
25. They Had A Strange College Experience
In 2004, the Olsens decided to enroll together for studies at NYU. But from the beginning, it was bizarre. For one, even the application process was difficult to navigate as two millionaires who had been working since before they could walk. As Mary-Kate once put it, “[we have] to figure out how we should answer things like ‘What have you done before?’ ‘Videos, movies, dolls, fashion lines’. Honestly, what are we supposed to say”?
And when the pair of them finally got on campus, the strangeness increased tenfold.
26. They Bought A Penthouse, Then Abandoned It
That September, the twins arrived in New York and immediately began living the grubby college dorm life. Just kidding! That isn’t what they did at all. Ahead of the move, they bought a $7.3 million penthouse in the trendy West Village. However, some reports indicate they never even moved into the apartment. That’s because the wheels began to fall off very fast.
27. They Were Miserable At School
Within months of arriving at NYU, people noticed telling things about the twins’ behavior. Namely, they were miserable. Mary-Kate in particular began skipping classes left, right, and center, and started exploring an independent study option so she could spend more time in Los Angeles. Eventually, the twins made a fateful decision.
28. They Dropped Out Of College
If there’s one slightly creepy thing about the twins, it’s that they do practically everything together (they even once told Rolling Stone they would live together until one of them had children). So when Mary-Kate took a permanent leave of absence from NYU, Ashley soon followed her sister, and in a New York minute, the pair were back in LA.
Still, some believe their reasons for dropping out had nothing to do with boredom or dissatisfaction. Instead, something more sinister was at play.
29. Their Peers Tried To Exploit Them
While at NYU, the twins experienced a horrific sense of déjà vu. They suspected that their fellow students were surreptitiously taking photos of them and trying to catch them out in various compromising positions, just as Spencer Pratt had done with Mary-Kate. Feeling completely unsafe, they decided to retreat back to LA.
After all, they had most of their close friends there. But that wasn’t all they had.
30. They Have One Bad Habit
Somewhere around this time, the Olsen twins picked up a very bad habit they are now notorious for: puffing nicotine. The petite blondes love to light up, even though it’s long been out of fashion and has always been dangerous. Apparently, Mary-Kate is so devoted to her habit that she was scolded twice at a New York Fashion Week show for lighting up indoors.
Yet some of their other habits are even deadlier.
31. Ashley Had A Horrific Facelift
Living in Hollywood, both Olsens have had cosmetic procedures done. But at one point, this turned into a horror story. One facelift didn’t go so well for Ashley, and she had a terrifying reaction. Her face swelled and was bruised with something called necrosis, where not enough blood gets to the skin, which then starts to die.
She had to undergo oxygen therapy to treat it, but was soon up and at 'em again. Still, their weirdest habit of all is yet to come.
32. They Keep Their Love Lives Hush-Hush
Understandably, Mary-Kate and Ashley have always kept their romantic history as under wraps as humanly possible—but maybe that’s because the twins have had some, er, interesting dating habits. For one, it is a regular thing for one of the twins to third-wheel it on the date of another. And that's not all they do together...
33. They Picked Their Own Love Interests
The twins really do participate in everything together, including picking out crushes. Since they got control over casting in their movies, the girls would have a field day picking out boys together to act as their love interests. Mary-Kate likely even shared her first real kiss on-screen in Passport to Paris; the director noted she was “jumpy and did a dozen takes” when it came time for the smooch.
For all this, their adult romantic choices aren’t so innocent.
34. They Have A Romantic Type
The twins have tended to have a unified type when it comes to dating: Rich and relatively unknown. Mary-Kate, for example, dated David Katzenberg, the son of Dreamworks founder Jeffer Katzenberg, while Ashley is currently with Louis Eisner, the son of The Geffen Company founder. But if you look back on their dating past, some very scandalous ex-boyfriends emerge.
35. Ashley Likes Hollywood Actors
For Ashley’s part, sometimes her taste does lean toward Hollywood actors like Jared Leto and Justin Bartha, but maybe her most scandalous relationship was with the decades-older financier and art dealer Richard Sachs. The pair dated for just five months but managed to get in some very public displays of affection while sitting in many front-row seats at events.
Still, as we’ll see, it’s Mary-Kate’s love life that really took a turn for the worse.
36. They Have A Signature Style
Since leaving a life in the spotlight for one behind the lens, the Olsen twins rarely show up to promo events. When they do, they leave a lasting impression. The pair have become notorious for their disheveled boho style, which has remained eerily consistent over the years even as fashions have changed. And there’s one more thing you’ll always see them with on a red carpet.
37. People Made Fun Of The Way They Look
The single most iconic thing associated with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is their signature “smile”. I put that in scare quotes because, uh, I’m not sure you can really call it a smile. Instead, the girls press their lips together and sort of half-pout, half-smirk. This smile has earned them endless ridicule—and there is one legendary story that explains it.
38. They Have A Magic Word
According to countless reports, the Olsen twins very much do this pout-smirk on purpose. (This makes a lot of sense; as child stars, there’s probably not much in public they don’t do on purpose). So in order to achieve the effect consistently, the sisters apparently look at each other and mouth the word “prune” before facing the cameras.
39. Mary-Kate Has An Invisible Disability
Since she was young, Mary-Kate has struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. It’s one of the few things that either of the girls is open about when it comes to their private lives. While studying at NYU, MK said, “I get extra time to take the test because of my ADD. Everybody's brains work differently and I just need longer for things to register”.
40. They Wore Dentures
While they were playing Michelle Tanner on Full House, the Olsen twins sported dentures. They were losing their baby teeth at different times, and in order for the show to keep its consistency, the producers got the girls to wear dentures. That way, no matter who had baby teeth and who had adult teeth, they both had the same pearly whites.
41. They Started A New Career
These days, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have done a huge career swerve. By the mid-2000s, they mostly retired from acting, and instead further developed their interest in fashion. After a tween deal with Wal-Mart, they re-invented themselves as high-fashion designers, and own (among other brands) the label The Row and Elizabeth and James, which they named after their siblings.
42. Their Sister Is Famous
While the twins tend to avoid film work these days, the Olsen name lives on in Hollywood. Mary-Kate and Ashely’s younger sister Elizabeth Olsen is now a star in her own right, most famously playing the Scarlet Witch in the Marvel movies. For her part, Elizabeth has stated that she waited to get into fully acting because of the toll she watched it take on her older sisters.
43. Mary-Kate Has A Connection To A French President
In May of 2012, Mary-Kate’s love life made international headlines. That’s because the world got wind of the fact that she was dating the much older financier Olivier Sarkozy, AKA the half-brother of the former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. And unlike Ashely’s own May-December romance with Richard Sachs, this one had legs.
44. Mary-Kate Planned The Wedding Of The Decade
When Mary-Kate met Sarkozy, he had just gotten out of a 14-year-long marriage with Charlotte Bernard, with whom he had two children. Even so, it seems that Sarkozy didn’t mind jumping into matrimony again: By 2014, he and Mary-Kate announced their engagement, and everyone was clamoring to get onto the wedding guest list.
And when juicy whispers of their nuptials emerged, the rumor mill really ramped up.
45. Even Their Nuptials Are Intensely Private
When Mary-Kate and Sarkozy did marry, it was under odd circumstances. Only about 50 close friends and family were there—and these did not include anyone from Full House, may I add. There are also no photos of the nuptials, as the uber private couple demanded that everyone leave their phones at the door. But we’re just getting started.
46. There Is A Legend About Mary-Kate’s Wedding Day
In certain circles of the fashion world, the Olsen-Sarkozy wedding is hallowed ground. The insider details are gob-smacking. According to Page Six, which trades in high-society gossip, the cig-loving Mary-Kate chose “bowls and bowls filled” with the slender killers as her party favors. If that’s not iconic, I’m not sure what is.
Soon enough, however, it all ended in flames.
47. Mary-Kate Went Through A Bitter Divorce
2020 wasn’t a good year for anyone, but it was a horrible year for Mary-Kate Olsen. Her marriage to Sarkozy—which was only a handful of years old at that point—irrevocably broke down, and she submitted divorce papers. Of course, this same scenario happened to many people during the global crisis…but there was something particularly rotten going on in the Sarkozy household.
48. The Pandemic Hit Them Hard
After Mary-Kate filed, journalists scrambled to find any reasons behind the split. They uncovered a messed-up treasure trove. Apparently, it all started only months before, when Sarkozy invited his ex-wife Charlotte Bernard, their children together, and his mother to stay with him and Mary-Kate. And while he claimed this was for safety and convenience, some sources think otherwise.
49. Mary-Kate’s Husband Was Cruel To Her
One contact who spoke to Vanity Fair revealed that this mass family invite was actually Sarkozy’s way of putting the nail in the coffin on his relationship, which had reportedly been drifting toward a breakup for quite some time. Either way, he obviously got what he wanted, and Mary-Kate was now desperate to get out of the picture. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy.
50. Mary-Kate Was In An Emergency
Although Mary-Kate filed for divorce in April of 2020, a month later, nothing had happened. She then decided to push through an emergency order for divorce, proving just how motivated she was. Well, tough luck: The city was slammed, and the order got denied ironically very quickly—just a day after she filed. That’s when her breakup turned ugly.
51. Mary-Kate Was Almost Homeless
There might have been a very good reason that Mary-Kate needed divorce now. On her emergency order, she revealed that Sarkozy was threatening to end her lease and kick her to the curb by May 18—an impossible deadline for her to make, even with all her vast resources. It was a vicious thing to do, but Mary-Kate had one place to turn to.
52. They Came Together In A Crisis
As she has done her whole life, Mary-Kate turned to her sister Ashley for help and spent her nights in her sister’s home while all the drama was going down. In early 2021, Mary-Kate’s divorce officially went through, and she’s a free woman today. Somehow, though, Olivier Sarkozy isn’t her darkest relationship. That honor belongs to one of the most tragic actors in history.
53. They Knew Heath Ledger Personally
When Heath Ledger passed from an overdose in 2008 just before his star-making turn in The Dark Knight, the world was shocked. But few know Mary-Kate’s chilling role in his demise. When Ledger’s massage therapist found him unresponsive in bed that day, she didn’t call the authorities first—she called Mary-Kate Olsen. Twice.
When Olsen picked up, her reaction was telling.
54. A Sordid Death Haunts Mary-Kate
Olsen leaped into action upon getting the call, going so far as to send a private security guard over to check out the scene. When these details got out, many wondered what Olsen’s connection was with the late actor. More than that, they wondered why she had reacted so quickly when she heard about his passing. They weren’t expecting the answer.
55. Their Dating History Is Suspect
In truth, Mary-Kate and Heath Ledger dated for some three months before that fateful day. Although it was reportedly casual, Ledger nonetheless had her on speed dial, which is why the massage therapist could contact the Olsen twin so quickly. Well, at least that’s one reason she might have contacted Mary-Kate first—the authorities had another idea.
56. The Authorities Took Mary-Kate In
Because Ledger died from a prescription overdose, the authorities were particularly keen to see if Mary-Kate knew anything about where he had gotten the medications from. Mary-Kate’s answer only made things more scandalous. There are reports that she claimed she would only talk if the authorities gave her immunity for what she told them.
57. They Are Uber Mysterious
Whether or not she got the immunity, Mary-Kate's lawyer later made a statement that she had indeed told officers everything she knew about the case. Which, according to the lawyer, wasn’t much—Mary-Kate denied any knowledge of where the substances came from, nor did she have any idea of what Ledger’s last moments were like.
Or, so they say. Like so much in the Olsens’ lives, this event will remain shrouded in mystery.
58. They Said No To Full House
When the Full House reboot, Fuller House came out recently, fans couldn’t help but notice it was missing both Mary-Kate and Ashley. The reason might surprise you. Although Mary-Kate was initially into the idea of reprising their role as Michelle Tanner, Ashley was staunchly against it, telling the producers, “[I haven't] been in front of a camera since I was 17, and I don't feel comfortable acting”.
Then again, Ashley might have had another heartbreaking motive for saying no.
59. Ashley Suffers In Silence
Mary-Kate isn’t the only one of the twins who deals with mental and physical setbacks. Ashley actually suffers from Lyme disease and wasn’t aware of it until years after contracting it. As a result, she often suffers from a lack of energy combined with horrible headaches, joint pain, and rashes. Indeed, one rumor goes that she didn’t want to sign on for Fuller House because of the disease.
60. The Emmys Snubbed Ashley
If you can believe it, of the two Olsen twins, only Mary-Kate has been nominated for an Emmy. That's right: Despite the fact that both sisters starred in the show So Little Time, the Emmys only acknowledged Mary-Kate for her acting. If Ashley was upset, she never let it show in public; she only had praise for her sister’s skills.