NET-A-PORTER – SHAILENE WOODLEY is known for her talent, her sense of justice and her dedication to living as simply as possible, owning only what she can fit into a small suitcase. But the past two years have seen a shift for the actress, one that nearly saw her quit Hollywood. She tells JENNIFER DICKINSON why she nearly walked away and how Big Little Lies got her to stay
“When I was seven,” says Shailene Woodley, “I said, ‘The day I’m on the cover of a magazine I’m going to quit,’ because I never wanted this industry to get in the way of my life.” At that point, she was already a two-year ‘veteran’ of show business, and repelled by the idea of fame and its pervasiveness.
Yet here she is, two decades later, on the cover of this magazine for the second time and with countless others, from Vanity Fair to New York Magazine, in her back catalogue. She’s paused filming on the second season of Big Little Lies to hit the promotion trail for the brilliantly grueling Adrift, a survival story based on Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp’s 1983 experience of being caught in a hurricane and stranded at sea for 41 days, co-starring Brit actor Sam Claflin. Woodley, 26, says she was “stripped to her core” by filming, which involved journeying into open sea every day, jumping into the water to pee when the boat’s toilet broke, and forgoing dinner every day for a month to illustrate Oldham’s slow starvation.
So very much still in the industry, then. Is she not a woman of her word? Or did Hollywood turn her head? Neither, she promises, explaining with a dramatic yet sincere, “I have the best job in the world. I could cry talking about it. And it’s fleeting, I remind myself of that every day. What I do can be taken away at any moment.”
The acting, it appears, comes easily. Co-stars heap unusually genuine praise on Woodley, with the likes of George Clooney – whom she starred with in The Descendants, her sit-up-and-take-notice role – and Kate Winslet (the Divergent franchise) singling her out as one of the best actresses of her generation. Everything that comes with it though? That’s been a struggle.
“The idea of magazines, press lines, red carpets and fashion, all of that was so overwhelming that I stayed away from it all,” says the actress over herbal tea at a relaxed LA cafe, clad in a leather jacket and jeans. “I can’t half-ass anything, so when it came to me having to look a certain way or speak a certain way for this image I was meant to create, it turned me off. When I wasn’t filming I would work on a farm somewhere because that’s what I could hold onto that felt real.”
Read more of the interview at the source