In the mystery thriller Wind River, Elizabeth Olsen plays Jane Banner, a federal officer investigating a murder on a Native American reservation with a Fish and Wildlife agent (Jeremy Renner). Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario), it was a gruelling project that involved harsh weather and quite a lot of physical preparation.

Wild Life starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy RennerWild Life starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner

"I worked with a Green Beret and I got to go to the gun range every weekend," Olsen says of the months before filming began, during which she studied martial arts, self-defence and weapons handling. She thinks this helped her understand Jane's tenacity. "I really admire her belief in her own abilities and bravery. I'm someone who is a fear-based person, so it's a quality that I wish I had more of."

She feels that the film provokes important conversations, especially with a complex rape scene. "There are all these things that can be drawn from it," Olsen says, "whether it's about women and being equal in a man's world, or whether it's about the taboo of rape, of talking about rape and blaming the victim. But you can't blame the victim. Some of the volunteer work I do is with people who have been rape victims, and the amount of cases that they cannot prove, even though it's an entire organisation that has everything at its disposal! If you can't get someone saying, 'Yeah, I did this thing,' or if you can't literally match up DNA, then nothing happens."

Olsen is known for being outspoken on the issues, and she feels that it's important for women to speak up. "I mean, Taylor and Jeremy could be intimidating men, because they're very direct and straightforward - there's not a lot of BS with them," she says. "But I can match that, and I don't feel like I'm making myself like a dude. Yeah, I know why I'm here too! I have an opinion, let's talk about it. I think women in history are supposed to be quiet and agreeable, supporters and nurturers, but the value of your opinion is huge."

From Wind River, Olsen returned to the Avengers franchise, where she's shooting the next two blockbusters back-to-back. But she's even more excited about producing a couple of upcoming projects for film and television. "I like being able to be someone who brings the right people together," she says. "I love to be a part of every decision."