TEEN VOGUE – “Fashion is instant language”—so states its reigning royal highness, Miuccia Prada. If this is true, starlet Shailene Woodley proved her style fluency during her recent meteoric rise from star of ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager to bona fide film actress in The Descendants, hitting the red carpet in coveted labels like Valentino, Proenza Schouler, and Marchesa.
So it’s surprising to find that Shailene, whom I styled in 2009 for the Teen Vogue Young Hollywood party (in a green See by Chloë number), feels at home in more relaxed fare. “I wish the boundaries between being an actor and being a fashionista were more distinct. I started acting because I love the art of it, not because I wanted to dress in fancy clothes,” explains the California native. “I have fun playing dress-up every now and then, but when it comes down to it, put me in a long skirt and a loose cotton shirt and I’m the happiest camper alive.”
But her fondness for relaxed duds doesn’t lessen her sartorial point of view. “My fashion vocabulary has expanded over the past few months, and I don’t allow anyone to pressure me into wearing something that doesn’t properly represent who I am as a person,” she says.
So when trailblazing designer Christopher Kane offered to make Shailene a custom gown—of metal, wires, and leather—for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s gala opening of “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations,” it seemed like a match made in heaven. “Shailene really loved the chain-mail pieces in my recent fall collection and wanted a version for herself,” says Kane. “She is talented and beautiful and has a strong personality. The strength and power of the chain-mail and leather details matched her confidence.”
After Shailene wore the designer to this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, she was an instant fan. “Christopher has mastered eccentric simplicity. His designs are straightforward, but the fabrics and embellishments are uniquely his own. They are masculine in structure and feminine in aesthetic,” says the 20-year-old.
On the steps of the Met, I rendezvous with Shailene, who is clad in what she deems “wearable art”—perfect for a night at a museum, not to mention the fashion world’s most high-profile evening. “On an average Monday night, I’d be sipping tea and reading a book,” she tells me. “This is by far the most glamorous and beautiful event I’ve been to.” That’s saying a lot for a girl who attended the Oscars just a few months prior.
“How do you stay so normal and grounded?” I ask her. “I don’t know how not to stay normal,” she nonchalantly says, chuckling, and explains: “I take time for myself. Outside noise is fantastic, but it is key to be able to hear your own inner voice.”
As we scan the scene’s dazzling statement dresses, I’m curious if this laid-back lady has any red carpet regrets from over the years. “I love looking back at the things I’ve worn, even if they make me cringe now,” she states. “It brings back a flood of memories; like popping in an old mix tape, it takes me back to who I was at that moment in time.” Looks like she’ll be adding another very special tune to her mix after this soiree.
ONLINE ATHENS – Athens will play host to another Hollywood film crew this summer, its second this year. This time, though, there’s a local connection.
James Ponsoldt, a 1997 graduate of Cedar Shoals High School, is in town now scouting locations and casting for a new film titled “The Spectacular Now” that’s set to begin filming in late July.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ponsoldt helmed a casting session at Ciné, part of a Southeast-wide attempt to rally acting talent for the film.
The project is in the pre-production stage, which means, Ponsoldt explained, his team is propping the organization by hiring a crew and cast simultaneously, and setting up its offices.
At this point, his crew numbers six. By the time shooting ramps up, that number will grow to 40, not including actors, and will employ some Athenians.
“The Spectacular Now” is an adolescent coming-of-age story based on a book written by Tim Tharp of the same name.
Ponsoldt believes the material transcends the average teen film.
“When I heard it was about teenagers, my knee jerked,” he said. “But when I read it, I was floored. It’s a really honest story.”
Ponsoldt lamented that adolescent lives aren’t treated with gravity by American filmmakers as they are in foreign movies. He cited exceptions like “American Grafitti,” “Dazed and Confused” and the TV show “Freaks and Geeks” as potential touchstones for his film.
“Only in America is there an idea that films about teenagers have to be dumb,” he said, adding that he intends to mimic the emotional inner life of a teen in the film.
“Teenagers haven’t had a steady diet of films about themselves that are mature.”
Ponsoldt’s last film, “Smashed,” was a hit at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Aspen, Colo., this year. The producers of “The Spectacular Now” likely sent him the script based on their reaction to “Smashed,” he said.
“The Spectacular Now” also marks the first feature Ponsoldt has shot in his hometown. On previous films, including “Off the Black,” a movie he wrote and directed, Ponsoldt tried to shoot in Athens, or at least Georgia, but the expense of filming in the state at that time proved too costly.
“It was kind of sad to me,” Ponsoldt said of having to film in upstate New York instead of his native Georgia. “But it wasn’t my money.”
But tax credits adopted by the Georgia Legislature in the past six years made filming here financially feasible, he said.
Ponsoldt explained that the book takes place in Oklahoma, but there’s nothing that pins the story to that location. When he read the script, his hometown screamed out to him. So when he signed onto the project, he pushed the producers to set the film in Athens.
Before casting is complete, a number of rising stars are already attached to the project, including Miles Teller of the films “Rabbit Hole” and “Footloose,” Brie Larson of Woody Allen’s “Rampart” and “21 Jumpstreet” and Shailene Woodley, star of TV’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “The Descendants.” Woodley had signed onto the project before Ponsoldt committed, he said. Her performance in “The Descendants,” which earned the actress an Oscar nomination, influenced his decision to direct her in “The Spectacular Now.”
Ponsoldt said that by time casting is wrapped up, more familiar actors are expected to sign onto the film.
Shooting starts July 23 at locations throughout Athens and should wrap by Aug. 25.
VARIETY – Hot off her acclaimed supporting performance in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” Shailene Woodley has signed on to topline “White Bird,” a new indie project from writer-director Gregg Araki.
Drama is told from the point of view of Woodley’s character, a troubled young woman whose life is upended following the mysterious disappearance of her mother.
With Woodley in place, Araki will turn his attention to casting the other key roles, including the protag’s parents and the lead detective on the case. Araki will produce “White Bird” with his frequent collaborators Pascal Caucheteux and Sebastien Lemercier of Why Not Prods.
One of the most lauded and prolific production companies in France, Why Not was responsible for four films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including Jacques Audiard’s “Rust And Bone,” Ken Loach’s “The Angel’s Share,” Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond The Hills” and Bruno Podalydes’ “Adieu Berthe.” Shingle, which has produced over 75 features including Audiard’s “A Prophet,” is currently shooting “Jimmy Picard” with Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Almaric.
MTV – It was Shailene Woodley’s first time at the MTV Movie Awards, and also her first win.
“The Descendants” star took home the Best Breakthrough Performance Golden Popcorn and commanded the stage during her acceptance speech. But it turns out she was actually much more nervous than she let on.
“I started sweating a whole lot. Like, a waterfall of sweat,” she reminisced when MTV News caught up with her immediately after her win. “I don’t even remember what happened, except for Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield’s smiling, awesome faces. Thank God they were up there. I would have been so nervous.”
Sure, Woodley was nominated for a number of prestigious awards thanks to her fantastic performance in “The Descendants,” including a Golden Globe nom. But being invited to — and winning at — the MTV Movie Awards is still a big accomplishment in her life.
“It’s the MTV Awards!” she gushed. “Let’s be real. This is crazy.”
It turns out that this was an especially great experience for Woodley because she is a huge Russell Brand fan. She called his opening monologue “awesome” and then dove into her passion for his particular brand of comedy.
“He’s one of my favorite comedians. I think he’s just so effing funny, and I’m all about him and everything that he’s saying. He’s like a political, or like an anti-political activist, you know? And I really love his revolutionary thinking. I’m into it,” she said. “[He has] a really profound message, and without being preachy.”
Shailene has received yet another nomination for her work in The Descendants and this time it’s an MTV Movie Award. She’s nominated in the Breakthrough Performance category, which is unfortunately a non-voting category so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that Shailene takes home another award for her work come June 3rd!
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Liam Hemsworth, “The Hunger Games”
Elle Fanning, “Super 8”
Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”