Shailene Woodley has confirmed she will not be returning to the role of Tris in the final film of the Divergent series, Ascendant. Woodley, who was promoting her new HBO miniseries Big Little Lies, squashed any rumors that she would follow the Divergent series from film to television when asked by Vanity Fair.
"No. I'm not going to be on the television show," Woodley reportedly told reporters at the premiere for Big Little Lies.
Divergent was supposed to be the next big blockbuster movie saga, scoring huge financial returns like Twilight and The Hunger Games. Despite the involvement of notable actors throughout the series, such as the previously Oscar-nominated Shailene Woodley, and Oscar winners Kate Winslet and Octavia Spencer, the third installment of the Divergent series, Allegiant, was a box office failure bringing in only a little over $66 million according to Box Office Mojo.
Following the flop, Lionsgate announced last July that the fourth and final installment of the film saga would be making its debut on television rather than in movie theaters. According to Variety, Lionsgate stated that the transition was to help promote its spinoff television series and the news came as a surprise to Shailene Woodley and her co-stars with many of them hearing the news from reporters rather than the production company.
Shailene had stated that she was interested in continuing the Divergent role while she was out promoting her film, Snowden, last fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"I signed up to tell the whole story of 'Tris,' and I would love to be able to do that," Woodley said. "Nothing would make me happier."
That being said, however, Shailene alluded to the fact that her return was only if Lionsgate had a change of heart and gave the film a chance in theaters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Woodley noted that she "didn't sign up to be in a television show." Considering that filming had not begun yet on Ascendant and it was undetermined if Lionsgate had locked Woodley in for the recurring role of the Divergent heroine, Shailene's involvement seemed to be up in the air until this week.
Woodley's news shouldn't come as a huge surprise to fans. Shailene's career began with a successful jaunt in television with recurring bit roles on The O.C. and Crossing Jordan, Woodley's popularity skyrocketed with her role as Amy Juergens in the surprise hit television show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
However, Shailene's transition into film was a notable one. Co-starring in The Descendants with George Clooney, Woodley's performance garnered her an Oscar nomination in 2012. Woodley would go on to take the lead in films like The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars.
While some may wonder why Shailene would be open to doing a cable miniseries, but not continue her role in Divergent on television, they really don't have to look too far to understand Woodley's reasoning. Transitioning from film back to television can often be seen in Hollywood as a career step backward, especially if the move is to network television rather than something more prominent like HBO or even Netflix and Amazon, who tend to lead in the area of critical acclaim during awards season.
Another factor that undoubtedly helped Shailene Woodley make up her mind could be the fact that her Divergent co-stars weren't so keen on returning to the series as a television movie either. Actor Theo James, who played Woodley's love interest in the films, told reporters in December that he was done and was heading to the stage to do live theater. And co-star Miles Teller, though still remaining non-commital about a return, was very vocal about his displeasure that Lionsgate chose to go in a different direction.
Whether or not Lionsgate will continue the Divergent project or scrap it completely now that Shailene Woodley is out of the picture remains to be seen. Ascendant was originally set to be released in June, 2017.
Do you think the series will continue without Shailene Woodley? Tell us what you think!
[Featured Image by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images.]