PASSION TO BEING HERSELF
Young Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, who is the star of the Divergent series, has a penchant for the hippy life and women’s rights
In an industry where every second of an actor’s career and image is managed right down to the last detail, Shailene Woodley is something of a rare entity – she has absolutely no game plan at all.
“For me, it’s always about instinct,” the LA-based actress says, kicking back at a Beverly Hills hotel.
“One of the things about art is you can’t really have a plan because it’s not like it can be ‘well, this year I want to do a comedy and next year I want to do a dark drama’ because who knows if those scripts will be around, and what if they’re crap? If I don’t find a script I like for five years, then I don’t mind not working for five years because it has to always come from a place of passion.”
Woodley may be just 23, but her strong sense of self is imposing.
“I’ve always embraced who I am,” she says. “Having said that, I think insecurities keep you humble and keep you aware of your own perception of self. I think it’s about how you choose to handle them.”
It’s been well documented that she’s a total hippy. She always starts each interview with a hug to “cut the bullsh--” and today she is feeling “golden” and “groovy”.
She brushes her teeth in clay, makes her own deodorant and whips up homemade medicines.
“She’s just her – she’s relatable,” says Ansel Elgort, who’s starred alongside Woodley in both Divergent films and teen weepy The Fault In Our Stars.
“What you see is what you get and I think that’s part of her popularity, with young women especially. They know that she is just being herself and they think, well if she can I can too.”
Woodley’s capacity to be herself has made her one of the most dynamic young actors in Hollywood.
Her breakout performance came as George Clooney’s moody daughter in The Descendants, which she followed with a cracking performance as a social outcast in The Spectacular Now and later as a teen living with cancer in The Fault In Our Stars.
But she really upped the ante by taking on the role of the feisty Tris in the Divergent series, based on the YA novels by Veronica Roth.
Woodley is proud of Divergent and the latest in the series Insurgent because she believes the films send out a positive message to young women.
“I think Tris has people trying to influence her and change her perspective about how she should accomplish her goal,” says Woodley.
“At the end of the day she listens, but she honours herself and her own integrity and I think that’s a pretty groovy message to be sending out there to girls.”
In the film, Woodley’s Tris is again pitted against Kate Winslet’s manipulative and vaguely menacing Jeanine. This time around, Naomi Watts also joins the cast as Four’s (Theo James) mysterious mother.
Woodley says that working with the two acclaimed actresses was invaluable training.
“I think I learned the most from them by just observing,” she says.
“Kate is someone who has done a lot of movies and is a massive star, but she walks on to a film set and she’s still like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a light! There’s a camera!’ And she’s so excited about life and she’s so enthusiastic about the process of filmmaking that it’s contagious.”
Woodley says it makes her crazy how women are so often pitted against each other, particularly in Hollywood.
“There’s really a lot of power that can come from women who can support other women and not feel envy towards their situations,” she says.
“And that’s what’s really going to start to shift things in the way that we see women in the world – is women supporting and being pillars for other women.”
As for the commonly held belief in Hollywood that women can’t open major studio films, Woodley scoffs.
“Men want to see women at the forefront of movies because women are babes and it’s fun to watch women be hot, and it’s fun to watch women be vulnerable and be weak,” she says.
“In the same way that it’s just as exciting to watch a man be strong and watch a man be weak, because we’re all human and we’re all multifaceted.”
Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Jeanine (Kate Winslet) in a scene from
directed by Robert Schwentke.