Shailene Woodley is one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars, but the actress said she nearly walked away from the industry after her highly acclaimed debut in The Descendants.
Woodley, who has again earned acclaim for her role in The Fault In Our Stars, said the pressure of following up the Academy Award nominated film were almost too much for her.
“Somebody came to me and said, ‘I can’t wait to see what you do next.’ I took that as pressure – that I had to live up to somebody else’s expectations,” she said in the July issue of Vanity Fair. “There were a few months where I was like, ‘I don’t want to act anymore.’ And then I got over it and realized it’s none of my business what other people think of me.”
Shailene Woodley has dealt with disappointment, including having her role as Mary Jane Watson cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But Woodley said she grew a thick skin and got over it quickly.
“For a few hours it was literally like, ‘Oh, my God, was I awful? Why did they cut me? What are people going to think?’” she told Vanity Fair. “I woke up the next morning and I was like, ‘OK, it makes total sense.’ I’m a pretty spiritual person, so I can just sit back and trust that everything happens for a reason, even if my ego doesn’t like it.”
Woodley takes all her work very personally. In interviews promoting The Fault In Our Stars, she has spoken less about her performance and more about the importance of the story itself.
“I mean, I don’t even necessarily feel a responsibility for the fans,” Shailene said. “Instead I feel a responsibility for this book, because this book represents so much and it’s so chockfull of beautiful messages that I felt like it was our duty to be the caretakers of it.”
The 22-year-old said her sensitivity is actually one of her biggest strengths, even if it can lead to some anxiety about the industry.
“Maybe the only thing that I’m supposed to do is just show up and be me in every moment,” she told Vanity Fair. “Because I do feel like one of my gifts is to be open and lovely – simple things like smiling at strangers and having kind, small interactions. I think that is what’s going to ultimately shift things.”
Woodley is certainly being noticed. George Clooney, her Descendants co-star, said there is no doubt that “we’ll be talking about Shailene Woodley 40 years from now.”