The One Tragedy That Changed The Olsen Twins Forever

It's been a hot minute (or should we say a "New York Minute?") since Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen graced the silver screen. Arguably one of the most — if not most — famous pairs of celebrity twins in the world, the duo conquered the '90s and the early aughts, starring in seemingly every show and direct-to-video movie. They worked with big companies like Walmart, Disney, and Mattel for Olsen-branded merchandise, and per The New York Times, their dolls outsold all other fashion dolls, with the exception of Barbie. In 2001 alone, products that heralded the names "Mary-Kate and Ashley" generated a profit of $500 million in retail sales.

Ever since they starred as Michelle Tanner on "Full House," the Olsen Twins have been unstoppable. But at the peak of their fame, the popular twins took a backseat from acting and then abruptly faded from the spotlight. The friendly faces of Mary-Kate and Ashley that seemed to be everywhere disappeared from the public eye all too sudden.

Those who still follow the Olsen twins' tracks know that they now mostly do work away from the camera, but not all are privy as to why they traded popularity for near obscurity.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen hated being famous

Even though Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's faces were plastered everywhere, they never liked being famous. In fact, they didn't even like acting. Mary-Kate told Entertainment Weekly in 2007 that their flourishing career back then was all about trying to please people. "If you look at our career from 21 years ago to today, it was about entertaining a specific audience," she divulged. "It wasn't about acting. It was about pleasing other people and making kids smile."

The twins also thought that their career was akin to being "little monkey performers." "I look at old photos of me, and I don't feel connected to them at all," admitted Mary-Kate in a 2010 interview with Marie Claire. "I would never wish my upbringing on anyone."

In 2004, the Olsen twins had a chance at having a normal life. They attended New York University for higher education but soon realized they would never have the privacy they so desperately wanted. Mary-Kate revealed to New York Magazine in 2007 that she didn't feel safe on campus, as kids in class sold anecdotes to tabloids, with some even got rewarded for it. "Learning is not fun if you're not safe," she said.

The twins plan to stay "discreet"

These days, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are happily working in the bubble they've created for themselves in the fashion industry. After retiring from acting and dropping out of college, the two founded a fashion label called The Row, which, at the start, only sold what they described as the "Perfect T-Shirt," and then eventually evolved into a fashion house that produced timeless, ready-to-made apparel.

When they were building the brand, they tried to look for ways to keep the public from knowing that they were behind it, likely because they didn't want to be shoved under the very spotlight they ran away from. "We didn't want to be in front of it, we didn't necessarily even want to let people know it was us," Ashley explained to i-D in June. "It was really about the product, to the point where we were like: Who could we get to front this so that we don't have to?"

Now in their 30s, Mary-Kate and Ashley are far different from the sweet little girls fans used to see on TV. As much as we'd love to see them acting again, the Olsen twins are in a better place now, thriving away from the spotlight and doing the creative work they love. And we won't hear a peep about their personal lives unless they choose to share things themselves. "[We are] discreet people," Mary-Kate said to i-D. "That's how we were raised."