PARADE – Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort opened up to Parade about what they learned about each other while filming Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, on-set habits, favorite films as kids, fame, and more.
When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
Shailene Woodley: “I was five and it was something that was fun for me and I knew what being an actor meant.”
Ansel Elgort: “I realized I wanted to be a performer when I was about nine. I did ballet and I went out on stage for the first time as a ballet dancer and I liked being on stage and then later that turned into wanting to be an actor, but at first it was I want to be a performer.”
What was your favorite movie as a kid?
Shailene: “I loved The Goonies. It was sort of the first movie that made my eyes open up to the possibilities of the world. I think it made me want and crave adventure. Even now, I watch it and it makes me want to be an explorer of the world.”
Ansel: “My favorite movie growing up was Billy Madison. It was just really funny and crude and it had bad words in it and funny parts and I loved it!”
You two worked together on both Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. What were some of your biggest takeaways about each other as actors?
Shailene: Oh man, Ansel and I work very similarly in the sense that as soon as the camera says action, we’re both very there, but as soon as it says cut, we’re able to bounce back into being ourselves. Neither of us spends lots of time getting into character. It’s always fun to work with different actors who do that, but there’s something really special about working with somebody where the second the camera is rolling you get to be locked in with each other. I also learned when Ansel is on set; he brings this sense of new curiosity because when we did this movie it was only your third film, right? When we worked on Divergent together it was only his second film, so there was this new sense of learning about things that some of the other people I’ve worked with don’t question anymore or act curious about anymore. It was really exciting for me to experience a film set for the first time again through his eyes.”
Ansel: “That will probably change soon!”
Shailene: “You’ll never do that. I’ll slap you if you do that!”
Ansel: “I learned that about Shailene — that she would slap me if I was bad! And I really liked that because she’s honest with people, there’s no BS and she’s not fake, she’s a real friend because of that to me. I learned a lot about her because she’s so open. She’s a totally open soul to me and I’m a totally open soul to her. And I learned, especially when seeing the movie, I was like, ‘wow, this girl is an amazing actress!’”
Shailene: “Right back at you, buddy.”
The Fault in Our Stars has some very somber moments. What were some of those more emotional scenes like to film together?
Shailene: “They were amazing. One of them was this eulogy scene and Ansel was sitting there with pale makeup on and even though he was off screen, he was crying with me or he was locked into my eyes, and to have him in that position and to see him in that vulnerable state was really emotional because it felt so real. And the gas station scene where Ansel had to cry and lose himself, I just remember being there for him and that’s something really special about the way we work together, we can both be present for each other.”
Ansel: “I’m very glad that so many emotional scenes were with Shailene because she is so emotionally available. We’re so comfortable with each other. It’s sort of like when you cry and your mom gives you a hug and you cry harder, because we’re such good friends, in the scene we can feel the emotion even more because we’re so comfortable with each other.”
Can you dish on some of each other’s on-set habits?
Ansel: “It’s always food with Shailene!”
Shailene: “Always. You’re snacking all the time, too.”
Ansel: “I’ll eat anything, but I end up eating a little healthier when I’m with Shailene because I’m aware of it.”
Shailene: “We’re also both pretty social on movie sets.”
Ansel: “We like making friends with everybody on set. I loved the sound guys on this movie. We’re always energetic, fun loving.”
Shailene: “We both show up with a smile on our face no matter what time it is.”
Shailene, you’re such a breath of fresh air in Hollywood when it comes to your candor. Have you always been outspoken?
“I think so. I’m an introvert by nature. I need my alone time. I gather my energy by being alone. But I feel like one of the greatest things that I’ve ever learned in life is truth and being truthful and breaking it down to the raw bone. I don’t know if it’s being outspoken or this desire or inherent ability to be truthful.”
How have you managed to stay so down to earth despite the fame?
“I think it’s funny, this whole Hollywood life is so fabricated because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter who you are and what your name is, you still go home and you have to deal with the dirty dishes or pick up the dog poo or call your grandma who is in the hospital. And the word fame separates being human and being something that’s not real. There’s this projected idea that being famous means you live a certain life and that’s just not true at all. I’m really lucky to have a great group of core people around me who really know me inside and out and they’re my tribe but at the end of the day, we’re all human beings going through our human process regardless of what the outside circumstances are.”
Ansel, you also DJ and produce music; what was the first CD you ever owned?
“The funny thing is, the first music I was ever into was show tunes. Oklahoma, The King and I, and that says something about who I am now.”
What was it like for you growing up in New York City?
“Growing up in New York City was so helpful because you end up never being in one bubble, you experience different people and communities. There’s so much diversity and that’s so important — especially as an actor. I feel like I can bring so many characters alive because of that.”