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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: Inside Their World Three Decades After Finding Fame (Exclusive)

The offer is on the table. Should Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen ever decide they want to revisit their time on Full House, the show that catapulted them to fame as precocious 6-month-olds in 1987, series creator Jeff Franklin is ready. On his Netflix reboot, Fuller House, “when somebody rings a doorbell, the girls yell, ‘It’s always open!’” he explains in the new issue of Us Weekly. “So that’s kind of how we feel about the Olsen twins: The door is open.”

But after three straight years of being told no — Ashley immediately begged off, explaining she no longer feels comfortable acting, while Mary-Kate cited timing issues — “I’ve stopped asking,” Franklin admits. “Really, I kind of gave up.”

Ashley Olsen Mary-Kate Olsen
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen attend the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 5, 2017 in New York City. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

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Smart move. The 31-year-old former child stars abdicated their Hollywood throne some 13 years ago. After building a billion-dollar empire marketing everything from branded toothpaste to Barbie dolls and an endless line of direct-to-video films, they stepped off camera following their last joint venture in 2004.

These days, says a source, the sisters “spend all of their time” working on their fashion lines, luxury label The Row and the more contemporary Elizabeth and James — and marvel at their old lives. “I look at photos of me, and I don’t feel connected to them at all,” Mary-Kate told Marie Claire in 2010, while Ashley has remarked that as child actors they looked “like cute little chimpanzees.”

Shaken by an adolescence spent in the spotlight, the designers, named 2015’s Fashion Innovators of the Year by WSJ Magazine, have intentionally retreated from the public eye. Neither has opened a Facebook or Instagram account — “We don’t dive into that work,” Ashley admitted to The Edit in March. “We’ve stayed quite sheltered” — and they grant few interviews. As actress sister Elizabeth, 28, recently explained of their publicity strategy, “They’re very tight-lipped — notoriously so.”

In their younger days, Mary-Kate told The Edit, she and Ashley accept that walking step-and-repeats and photos with fans was all in a day’s work: “Being in the public eye was almost part of our role and responsibility.” But now she’s happiest ensconced in the $13.5 million NYC townhouse she shares with French financier husband Olivier Sarkozy, 48, and his children Julien, 16, and Margot, 14.

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Olivier Sarkozy and Mary-Kate Olsen attend New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets game at Madison Square Garden on November 9, 2016 in New York City. James Devaney/GC Images

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And the duo would love to squeeze another into their sprawling home (complete with a private garden, ballroom and hall of mirrors). Multiple sources reveal they are eager to expand their family. Says the source, “They definitely want a baby and have been trying.”

Us Weekly Cover

Ashley, meanwhile, is eager for a steady romance. Since splitting with Richard Sachs — an art dealer nearly three decades her senior — this spring, pals have been pushing the onetime Badgley Mischka model to date again. “All of Ashley’s friends really want her to find someone to settle down with,” says the source. In New York, Ashley “dates guys she meets through work and events,” says the source, and also braves a few set-ups from pals, “but they’re all casual.” The star would love to change that. Says the source, “She’s definitely ready for something serious.”

For more on the sisters’ lives — and why they’re happy to be out of the Hollywood glare — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now!

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