Full House took its final bow — well, final until it returned as Fuller House — in 1995, but that didn’t mark the end of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s acting careers. The fall of that same year saw the debut of It Takes Two, a theatrically released feature that saw them starring opposite Steve Guttenberg and Kirstie Alley. From there the twins’ film career mostly moved to the world of direct-to-video and a series of films like Passport to Paris and Winning London that would take them around the world, culminating in a return to theatrically released features with New York Minute in 2004.
But 2004, the same year they turned 18, also marks the end of the line for the twins’ family-friendly adventures. Ashley has not acted since, and Mary-Kate has had a few roles here and there (The Wackness, Weeds). The twins made the shift from acting to designing with their first couture fashion line, The Row, debuting in 2006. They followed with a second line, Elizabeth and James, and in 2012 were awarded womenswear designers of the year by the CFDA.
Today the twins turn 30, and those who continue to celebrate their birth include close family members, Olivier Sarkozy, and their dedicated long-time fans. (At this point it’s essential to mention that in 2000 I followed the twins to Russia as part of a “Sail With the Stars” fan cruise. So yes, that includes me.)
In honor of the twins turning 30, I spoke with the leading men from their straight-to-video travel movies: Ethan Peck (Passport to Paris), Ryan Clark (Our Lips Are Sealed), Brandon Tyler Williams and Eric Jungmann (Winning London), Ben Easter (Holiday in the Sun), Derek Lee Nixon (When in Rome), Jeff D’Agostino (Getting There) and Lukas Behnken (The Challenge). These films, which were churned out in quick succession between the years 1999 to 2003, hold a special place in the hearts of Mary-Kate and Ashley fans around the world. The leading men, many of whom were on-screen love interests, regale us with stories from this beautiful time in the twins’ careers and reflect on the lives of these mysterious and hard-working women.
Getting The Role
Ben Easter (“Jordan,” Holiday in the Sun): I had just finished Pearl Harbor and my manager sent me to an audition and they said, “Oh yeah, it’s for the Olsen twins.” Right off the bat I recognized the name but I didn’t know who they were. I was telling my sister about it and she was like, “Yeah they were on a show when they were kids.” And I was like, there’s no way that I could get an audition to play a guy opposite them in a film.
Derek Lee Nixon (“Ryan,” When in Rome): If you want me to be honest, I had never seen a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie ’til my own. It wasn’t that I didn’t know who they were or anything. I was 19 when I shot When in Rome, so it wasn’t necessarily my demographic.
Ethan Peck, (“Michel,” Passport to Paris): Because they were my age, I had some sort of peripheral awareness. They weren’t a big presence in my mind but I was definitely aware of them.
Eric Jungmann (“Dylan,” Winning London): Obviously I was aware of the Olsen twins. I was born in ’81 so I grew up in the ’90s and Full House was a pretty big show for me. It was part of the TGIF, Family Matters block, which is also maybe even a bigger show for me. So I watched Full House quite a bit.
Ryan Clark (“Pete,” Our Lips Are Sealed): I was on a TV show here [in Australia] when I was 6 or 7 years old and I had just finished up by the time we started filming Our Lips Our Sealed. It was sort of the perfect role to go into. It was something fun and we got to do a lot of cool things around Sydney with the girls.
Jeff D’Agostino (“Toast,” Getting There): The breakdown for the character was for an overweight guy who ate a lot. I wasn’t overweight at the time. [Laughs.] I read the sides and thought it sounded fun and he was a snowboarder and I grew up in Colorado, so I grew up snowboarding. I was like, alright, I’ll just make him a snowboarder like all my bros back in Colorado. I went into the audition, really hammed it up. They filmed it, sent it to the girls and I guess they loved it because I looked really different from everyone else auditioning for that character.
Lukas Behnken (“Adam,” The Challenge): It’s an interesting thought knowing they’re involved in the casting process. It’s a different feeling of, oh, she picked me to be her boyfriend.
Brandon Tyler, (“Brian,” Winning London): It was almost like a rite of passage. It seemed like everyone was doing an Olsen twins movie, then they would go on and do awesome stuff.