You don’t hear much about the Olsen twins these days. Enter younger sister Elizabeth, who likes to be called Lizzie and who, at 22 –– three years younger than her sisters –– is about to hit the movie scene full tilt. She’s already completed lead roles in four films, and she is working on a fifth.

You don’t hear much about the Olsen twins these days. Mary-Kate does pop up in B-rated movies now and then, but it’s been almost a decade since she and Ashley starred together in the film “New York Minute,” and a lot longer since they burst upon the TV scene exuding adorableness in “Full House.”


Enter younger sister Elizabeth, who likes to be called Lizzie and who, at 22 –– three years younger than her sisters –– is about to hit the movie scene full tilt. She’s already completed lead roles in four films, and she is working on a fifth.


The first one scheduled for release, “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” opens next Friday. Olsen plays the multi-named title character, a young woman who escapes from an abusive cult and tries to get back to a life of normalcy while fighting an overwhelming feeling of paranoia.


Olsen is terrific in the part, using her enormous green eyes and a battery of facial expressions more than her voice to get across the complexities of her character. She seems to play the part like a veteran rather than a first-time actress.


“Actually, I’ve been acting since I was 8, when it comes to camps and classes and things like that,” said Olsen during a recent visit to Boston to promote the film. “I started doing conservatory training when I was 16, and I’ve done four different conservatories, so I’ve had tons of training and experience.”


In the midst of keeping up with classes at NYU, where she’s a senior, Olsen also managed to do some Broadway and off-Broadway understudying.


“It’s so funny that, with (professional) experience or not, I feel like I have lots of tools that some actors who might have worked more than me are still trying to figure out,” she said. “But I feel that I’ve had such amazing teachers, that I know what to do if I’m stuck on something or having a hard time accessing something.”


Olsen said researching a character is an important part of bringing that character to life. But there just wasn’t much time for that in “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” She instead had to rely mostly on what was in the script and on her own instincts.


“I got the job rather quickly, shortly before we were about to start filming,” she said. “My initial approach to the script was really just trying to figure out character arcs and choices and justifications. I didn’t really seek out anything else other than that.”


But when she did need some help, she went straight to first-time writer and director Sean Durkin.


“I remember asking Sean about one young woman he knew who actually went through something like this,” she said. “I didn’t want to meet her because I wasn’t doing her story; it’s not a retelling of what happened to her. But Sean told me enough to understand the psychology of it.”


But before any questions on the set, Olsen spent a good deal of time reading and rereading Durkin’s script. She was most impressed by the fact that it’s not linear and that it was initially a bit of a challenge at times to realize what was going on.


“I immediately responded to the way it was told,” she said. “I loved it, and I loved that you could tell that an audience may not know where you are at the beginning of a scene. I responded to that a lot.”


More importantly, Olsen was impressed in the way Durkin fashioned the extremely complicated character she was going to play.


“It’s so easy to just not care about her,” she said of Martha. “So easy to think that she’s just moping. But she’s not just one way. She’s so many different ways, and she’s trying to grapple with it all. It’s like this moment of life where you’re just trying to figure out things, and it’s very honest. So I had a lot of compassion for her, and for what was going on with her. I cared a lot and I felt connected with her.”


Of her approach to the part when the cameras finally started rolling, she said, “I was really excited and aggressive toward the part. It was something I really wanted to do.