Divergent star Shailene Woodley has become a media obsession thanks to both her acting talent and her penchant for talking about her interest in herbs. But in an interview with The Wire today, Woodley explained she’s not reading the coverage about herself.
“Somebody told me a long time ago it’s none of my business what other people think of me and it has changed everything,” she said. “The same way it’s none of your business what anyone thinks of you. It’s sort of a game changer when you think about it like that.” Woodley is all about being genuine in her life, and that’s evident both in her press appearances and her in her performances. Though she has wowed in movies like The Spectacular Now and The Descendants, Divergent proves she’s equally at home dealing with real life or dystopian devastation.
With Divergent out in theaters today, we talked with Woodley about her opinion of the attention being lavished on her, her style of acting, and her snacks.
I feel like I feel must be coming to you at the end of so much stuff.
No worries, man. Thank you, so much for talking to me. Sorry my voice is all scratchy last night we went out a little too late.
With the cast?
It was after the New York premiere so we all went out. But my voice is all scratchy.
I wanted to start with a sort of strange question: I recently found out that you played Felicity the American Girl doll, which was my favorite American Girl doll, when you were little. So you’ve been playing kick-ass girls for a really long time.
I guess so, huh. It’s kind of funny. You’re right. Maybe it’s just strong women in a sense. I really respond to really strong characters, and complex characters. And maybe because I resonate myself with other strong females maybe that’s why I’m pulled to them. I don’t know.
I was wondering if you feel a responsibility off the screen to present yourself as female role model, as a feminist in that context, because you’re playing this character Tris?
No, not at all. As an actor that’s what we do. We go in, we play characters, and then we leave. So who I am in the world is who I exist as Shailene. I would never live my life in pursuit of trying to make others happy or make others feel something because that just doesn’t seem very fulfilling to me.
Last night on Late Night you spoke about lucid dreaming? That struck me as something being related to Divergent, because of the idea of being aware when you are underneath the influence something, as in Tris’ case when taking the serum. [In the movie, Woodley’s character Tris can sense when a simulation isn’t real.] Was that something you explored on a personal level or for the role at all?
Yeah. I’ve attempted lucid dreaming or what not, and it is really interesting when you are dreaming and you realize, you’re dreaming, you’re aware of your situation. It’s like I’m in Inception or something. It’s an interesting concept to me, what our minds are capable of if we spent the time to really explore creative depths of our right brain.
Did you think about that at all when taking on Divergent?
It’s sort of all in the writing. The script explains what the director’s vision is and then, yeah, you go into it. You have to make it feel real, right? So for an audience to watch it you know it wasn’t real, but for Tris, she thinks it’s real.
In terms of your acting style is it something that comes to you, not really method at all, or does it depend on the role?
My acting style is just showing up, and just being very present to those in front of me and actively reacting to what they are saying.
People have loved your openness. Gawker called you “America’s Sacred Moonchild.” BuzzFeed had a list of the most “wonderfully hippie things” you’ve said. Is that something you’re conscious of at all or do you put that away?
I learned a lesson a long time ago that Googling yourself is just not a good idea. So I guess I can assume what maybe people are saying, but for the most part I don’t read anything or look at anything because you never know and it’s easy to let a lot of voices in your head and then sort of drown in them instead of keeping your own voice. I don’t enjoy that.
I loved your Twitter account. Why did you decide to stop tweeting?
It just got to be a lot. I started my Twitter account to stay in touch with friends who live far away, and then I realized there are a lot of other people who have access to it, and that felt weird to me.
You talk a lot about healing, and I wanted to ask you about that in relation to The Fault in Our Stars, which deals with two kinds of healing, the very technical, medical sense of healing and emotional healing. How did your conceptions of healing filter into your conception of Hazel Grace?
Yeah, they didn’t really correlate. Like I said earlier, my approach to acting is it’s in the script and I really just surrender to the characters. Obviously, cancer is something that’s so prevalent and so huge. It’s a topic that I don’t know much about healing-wise so it’s not something I feel comfortable talking about.
You’re somebody who is obviously so concerned with health. How do you stay good to your body when you’re doing something like this insane press tour?
Oh man. I’m good to my body no matter where I am in the world. The most important thing about health is what goes on in your mind, even more so than the food you eat, more so than the drinks you drink. On the press tour, we’re going to big major cities so there’s an abundance of food. I bring snack bags in my suitcase. It’s easy to find farm to table restaurants no matter where you go.
What foods are in your snack bags?
Wherever I am, if I see something that looks good I throw it in there. I usually always have flax crackers. Always have chocolate. Always.
What kind of chocolate?
Any kind of raw chocolate. I bring my energy powder with me everywhere so I can make a shake in the morning.
Are there actresses or actors whose careers you really admire?
Oh man, I know I just worked with her, but I really admire Kate Winslet. I admire her career. I admire Marion Cotillard and Mélanie Laurent.
The French people.
The Frenchies, yeah.
Why specifically? How does that fit into your idea of where your career might be headed?
I don’t see my career going necessarily in the direction—I really respect them as actors. I think that they are really beautiful human beings outside of this industry as well.
What’s next? Are you going immediately into filming Insurgent?
We go into Insurgent in a few months, which I’m looking forward to, but between now and then I’m definitely going to lay low and spend some time with my friends.
You’ve talked about doing couch-surfing thing. Is that something you’re going to again this time around?
I don’t know. I’m not sure.