LOS ANGELES TIMES – As the heroine of this weekend’s box office juggernaut, “Divergent,” actress Shailene Woodley threw knives, shot guns and fought in a ring. But of all the daring scenes she filmed, scaling the 150-foot Ferris wheel at Chicago’s Navy Pier in freezing temperatures was Woodley’s favorite.
“It was such a special night. It was the third full moon of the year, and it was a supermoon, and supermoons are very powerful,” she reminisced, in what the world is quickly learning to be trademark Shailene speak. “So to watch it go across the sky as we were climbing up and down this ladder for 12 hours, it was magical. It was so romantic.”
It may have been an almost-spiritual experience for Woodley, but the scene also marked a key moment for her character, Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a young woman who is forced to prove her courage in order to blend in and keep a dangerous secret in a world that’s anything but romantic.
“Divergent,” opening Friday, is based on the first novel in Veronica Roth’s bestselling young adult trilogy, which has sold 17 million copies with a story that posits a dystopian future in which people are strictly sorted into factions based on personality. A test reveals our heroine, Tris, is divergent, meaning she doesn’t fit neatly into any single category — a quality considered dangerous. Tris tries to hide her divergence and joins Dauntless, the faction that values bravery, where her courage and strength are put to the test.
MARIE CLAIRE – It’s a week before her 22nd birthday, and Shailene Woodley is living out of a suitcase containing all of her remaining possessions: some old clothes, a few trinkets, crystals and altarpieces to remind her of home, herbal supplements, a jump rope. “I’ve only been home nine days this year,” she says in her room at London’s Soho Hotel, “which is sort of what inspired me to get rid of everything.”
Woodley has her soaring popularity to blame for this accelerated work rate. Having spent most of her teenage years playing the lead in ABC Family’s TV series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, in 2011 she was cast in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants and immediately proved what she could do on the big screen. Wise, grumpy, heartbroken, and mesmerizing, she stole the show from none other than costar George Clooney. Since then, she has shot four movies and become the girl everyone wants on the other side of the camera.
To exaggerate the extent to which films are “hotly anticipated” is standard in Hollywood, but in the case of Woodley’s next two roles, that sense is genuine and palpable. She has become the screen incarnation of two adored characters from monster-selling young-adult novels. In this month’s Divergent, touted as the new Hunger Games, she plays Tris, a girl coming of age in a dystopian regime, too human to fit neatly into just one of its five social factions—Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. (The second in Veronica Roth’s trilogy, Insurgent, starts filming in May; the third, Allegiant, has yet to get an official release date.) In June’s The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s book, she portrays Hazel, a teenager who falls in love as she is dying of cancer. The slick mega-explosion of the Divergent franchise, for which Woodley trained in martial arts, hand-to-hand combat, and knife-throwing, is one thing. The implacable, eloquent heartbreak of The Fault in Our Stars is another. That Woodley can do both is, somehow, incrementally incredible.
Those who know Woodley comment on her seemingly infinite capacity for warmth, which is not to say she’s soft. In fact, by all accounts, she’s pretty tough. Theo James, her costar in Divergent, tells me, “Shai’s empowered—she’s a strong actress and intuitive. She’s not like a ‘girl’ in the Hollywood sense. Once there was a complex stunt we had to do—running next to this train and jumping on and off. She fell off the train and smacked her head. But she was up five minutes later, going, ‘I’m good.'”
Dressed in black leggings, a black tank top, and no makeup, Woodley is like an advertisement for yoga (her preferred form of exercise). She folds herself up effortlessly, like a rare, long-legged bird, and runs a hand through her hair, sheared for The Fault in Our Stars. One day, she says, she’d like to shave it or have a Jean Seberg style: “That would be so badass.”
If Gloria Steinem’s famous line—”This is what 40 looks like,” in response to being told she didn’t look 40—changed the way women of that age were perceived, then you could say Woodley has done the same for young adults. Not since the ’50s have teenagers been at the forefront of entertainment culture, and Woodley is about to become Hollywood’s best symbol of that rite-of-passage phase. “I think there’s this big rise right now in giving teenagers the worth that they have,” she explains. “For so long they were—and still are—depicted in movies and TV shows as codependent whiners or rich, beautiful, diamond-clad daughters or dumb cheerleader types. But teenagers are so smart. I was probably smarter as a 16-year-old than I am today. There is a zest for life that you have at that age that is so beautiful.”
Ironically, Woodley has just begun to feel she has definitively left her teenage years behind. “For the first time, I feel like I’m entering my womanhood,” she says. “I’ve decided to take a few months off, just to see who I am as that woman in the world, because I’ve never been able to experience it outside of this industry.”
Shailene is gracing the cover of another high profile magazine, this time the April edition of Teen Vogue. The photoshoot was taken at Caroline Gardens Chapel in London during her trip in November last year. An excerpt from the cover story can be found below, so be sure to take a read. The cover hits newsstands on March 25. We’ll provide further coverage once it becomes available.
We often forget about the importance of being earnest. For a young actress in Hollywood, it’s certainly a rare quality. There’s outspoken and brassy, à la Jennifer Lawrence—and we love her for it—but preaching your principles and holding on to them are entirely different. Shailene Woodley is indeed a rarity: a 22-year-old whose passion isn’t infused with sass. It’s full of hippie love, for her friends, her films, nature, George Clooney…. She’s definitely not the one who yells across a room, and it’s the content of what she says, not the volume, that makes her unique. She is Hollywood’s rebel, as we say on the cover, but not a deliberate one.
We’re sitting in the back room of Akasha, a café in Culver City, California, having breakfast. Shailene, glowingly makeup-free and Cali-casual in a nondescript gray sweater and beanie, has just come from seeing Divergent for the first time. A dystopian tale of a world where people are sorted into factions according to their personality traits, the film is based on the best-selling young-adult novel by Veronica Roth. It’s the first in a trio of books being hailed as “the next Hunger Games,” a moniker that has caused many other recent movies—Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Ender’s Game—to falter under the great weight of expectations. But this one is shaping up to be epic. In it, Shailene stars—alongside Kate Winslet, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Theo James—as Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a strong-willed, opinionated heroine who, like the actress herself, doesn’t fit into any predefined category.
Even though she saw only a rough cut of the movie, Shailene seems impressed. “It was pretty wild,” she says, absentmindedly tugging at her collar to reveal the fading image of three ravens—Tris’s tattoo in Divergent—on her clavicle, courtesy of recent reshoots. “Doing an action movie is completely different from one based in reality. It’s much harder to act with a green screen than with another human being. There are so many special effects in this film, so it was really amazing to see how they turned out.”
If you haven’t already, be sure to read on for Shailene’s feature in The Hollywood Reporter–it’s such a wonderful read.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Most young stars learn to quickly cultivate an aura of untouchability, but that is not how Shailene Woodley likes to operate. It’s January on the Sundance red carpet for White Bird in a Blizzard. The 22-year-old actress approaches a microphone-toting reporter with uncommon familiarity, slipping her hands under his semi-raised arms and giving him a robust squeeze. At first I think she must know the journalist, perhaps one of her red-carpet favorites. Then I realize she’s hugging every single person before they interview her. They are all strangers.
Right before the White Bird premiere, Sundance festival director John Cooper stops by backstage to congratulate Woodley. He goes in for the handshake, but she outmaneuvers him with a low body hug. He seems genuinely startled.
Later, after I receive my first of many Woodley hugs, I ask her about this habit. After all, most stars on the red carpet interact with reporters the way they endure a customs official with body language that says, “I will answer your questions carefully and pretend to like you, but this is about as much fun for me as picking gum off the bottom of my Louboutins.” By contrast, Woodley sees the press gantlet as an opportunity to transcend surface-level chitchat. She explains: “We’ve got a set amount of time in our lives, you know. You might as well make every conversation count. So that’s like the hug. It’s kind of like, ‘Hey, I’m real. You’re real. Let’s connect.’ ”
It’s that unique accessibility — both onscreen and off — coupled with raw acting talent that has made Woodley one of the most hyped starlets since Jennifer Lawrence prepared to launch The Hunger Games franchise two years ago. Like Lawrence, Woodley may soon boast a YA blockbuster franchise of her own with Divergent, which Lionsgate opens March 21. Early tracking is solid, indicating an opening weekend as high as $65 million. This summer’s The Fault in Our Stars, another big book adaptation in which she stars, already is attracting fervent fan interest and appears poised for counterprogramming hit status.
In an industry that has failed to groom reliable movie stars the way it did a generation ago, Woodley’s big moment comes targeted with very high hopes. With the exception of Lawrence and Channing Tatum, most of Hollywood’s bankable stars — Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock, Adam Sandler, Leonardo DiCaprio — are all in or approaching middle age, and two of the most promising young actors with the highest earning potential of the past decade, Lindsay Lohan and Shia LaBeouf, torpedoed their own careers.
But as big as the opportunity is for Woodley, it also sets her up for a perilous fall and/or backlash if Divergent fails to deliver. Then she’s not Jennifer Lawrence; she’s Lily Collins.
In fall 2012, Lionsgate was looking for someone with the same qualities as Lawrence and its Twilight heroine, Kristen Stewart, to carry the $85 million Divergent. The movie is based on Veronica Roth’s wildly popular trilogy that is set in a dystopic future where society has been carved into five factions. Woodley, who will be paid $250,000 to $500,000 for the first installment, according to sources, was the studio’s first and only choice thanks mostly to her breakout performance in Alexander Payne’s 2011 drama, The Descendants. At that time, she was particularly in demand after her name had surfaced as EL James’ first choice to star in Fifty Shades of Grey. She also was being hotly pursued for Amazing Spider-Man 2, and she had a fan base due to a five-season stint on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Erik Feig, Lionsgate motion picture group co-president, says the Divergent male lead, which eventually went to Theo James, was the much harder call.
HARPERS BAZAAR – It comes as no surprise that Shailene Woodley is a big dreamer. In just a few short years, she has gone from playing a teen mom on The Secret Life of the American Teenager to receiving a Golden Globe nomination and working with actors like Kate Winslet, with whom she stars in this month’s sci-fi epic Divergent, which comes out March 21. Still, dreams remain an obsession for Woodley, who occasionally records her own and has even experimented with lucid dreaming. Here, she gives us a peek inside her very active REM cycle.
I’ve always been interested in dreams. I love the mystery of them—there are so many philosophies about what they mean, where they stem from, and why we have them. We haven’t been able to completely prove any of our assumptions regarding dreams, and that fascinates me.
When I was younger, I had recurring dreams a lot. As a 22-year-old woman, I still cannot watch Jurassic Park because when I first saw it as a four- or five-year-old, it gave me nightmares. I will never forget the visual: a giant T. Rex eyeball in the window of my second-story bedroom, like it was always watching me.
In another recurring dream, my dad and I were on a pirate ship, winding through treacherous channels, tending to hundreds of sails in high-powered winds, and floating next to cliffs that could have been right out of The Princess Bride. We were always running away from something, though I don’t recall what. I remember feeling incredibly adrenalized when I dreamed about the ship.
There is an herb called mugwort that I’ve tried, which is supposed to help enhance dreams. You can burn a little before bed or sleep on a mugwort pillow. It’s found in all parts of America, East Coast and West—anytime you see weeds growing through cracks in a parking lot, there’s probably mugwort. You can harvest it yourself, dry it, bundle it, and burn it like sage.
Specifically, mugwort is associated with lucid dreaming, which I’ve experienced a few times. I’m no expert, but when I’ve tried it, I’ve used a technique where you fall asleep while knocking on a wall. Something about that keeps your brain awake while your body goes to sleep, inducing that great moment when you realize, Wow, I’m conscious of the fact that I’m dreaming.
I’ve also had dreams that have brought increased clarity to a situation. Recently I dreamed about somebody I’d just met and woke up with an intense sense of familiarity and comfort toward her. I felt I knew her so well even though we had met only once. Other dreams revealed to me that I should be more wary of certain people I trusted—and generally they have been correct, like a premonition.
Now I’ll occasionally have the same dream two or three nights in a row, and then it’ll disappear. But even in moments of tranquillity, my mind’s favorite hobby is visualizing epic adventures for the present and future. Lately my most vivid, clear, and colorful dreams have been the ones I’ve had during catnaps, when I doze off on an airplane for an hour or in a car for 20 minutes. My mind is in hyperactive mode. “Fit everything in—you’ve got only 20 minutes!” it tells me. And the sparks just start flying. —Shailene Woodley
Another great interview with Shailene from Sundance–a ton of great quotes in this one. Be sure to read on.
THE HUFFINGTON POST – Shailene Woodley has changed a lot in the last three years. When I spoke to Woodley while she was promoting “The Descendants” in 2011, she was certainly polite, but there was a sense that she would have liked to have been anywhere else but in that hotel room, answering yet another question about George Clooney’s pranks.
Now, though, a little over two years later, Shailene Woodley is very different. Her answers are sharp and off-the-cuff. In our interview at Sundance this week, she even admitted to being on autopilot during “The Descendants” press tour. She’s also a hugger. Woodley is so much of a hugger, in fact, that I was advised by colleagues that she was going to hug me before the interview even started. That was not false information.
I met Woodley in a lounge off of Park City, Utah’s Main Street to discuss her role in Gregg Akari’s “White Bird in A Blizzard.” Woodley plays Kat in the film, a young woman whose mother disappears in 1988. Slowly, Kat starts putting the pieces together of what happened. Ahead, Woodley talks about her attitude toward acting — and her attitude toward being cut out of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” — and why her “Divergent” co-star Miles Teller is the Leonardo DiCaprio to her Kate Winslet.
I feel you’ve been on a roll as of late.
Am I? [Laughs]
I’m sure there was more to it than this, but even when it was announced that you were cut from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” it just seemed like your attitude was, “Eh, I have other things going on.”
You know what it was? I’m a very firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And it made complete sense — the fact that they didn’t have time for the movie and Mary Jane is such an important character — she was only in three scenes. And so they were like, “Let’s hold off and wait and introduce her in the next one,” which makes complete sense, in retrospect. Complete sense.
And career-wise, you’ve got “Divergent” coming out.
Yeah, but not even that. Even if I wasn’t doing anything else, from a business point of view, it made sense — and how can you argue with that? You know?
You are in the trailer.
I know, it’s hilarious. How do you know that?