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Shailene Woodley was a teenager when she landed her first major role alongside Mr Clooney in The Descendants – but the pressure of success made her contemplate giving up acting altogether.
She explains to Elaine Lipworth the lessons she learned from her leading man – and why she’s back in front of the camera in summer’s must-see movie She played George’s rebellious daughter in her first major film, The Descendants, which led to a Golden Globe nomination (‘Oh my God, George is just the best’), and acted alongside Kate (‘A really great ally and friend’) in the recent teen blockbuster Divergent.
And she’s not keen on shopping for clothes either: ‘I can’t remember the last time I bought anything.’ Raised with her brother Tanner by parents Lori and Lonnie (who have since divorced) in Simi Valley, California, Shailene started acting when she was five.
And like the 23-year-old Hunger Games star, Shailene has avoided syrupy girlfriend roles, mixing indie films, such as the excellent The Spectacular Now, with mainstream, big-budget fare such as Divergent (she is currently filming the sequel Insurgent).
In this summer’s much anticipated release The Fault In Our Stars (based on the bestseller by John Green), Shailene stars as Hazel, a witty, intelligent 16-year-old with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs.
I first met Shailene on the set of The Descendants in Hawaii; at that time she was a sweet, hippyish 19-year-old, with fantasies of becoming an organic farmer rather than a movie star.
She hasn’t changed much and seems both mature for her years and youthfully enthusiastic about life.
Shailene is certainly keeping good company and is on the brink of global stardom herself.Film critics are calling her the next Jennifer Lawrence.‘I wanted the role so badly, I sent John Green a long email about how I had to play Hazel.Later I said to the producers, “Please let me audition, and if I can’t audition, I’ll be a PA or an extra or a caterer,”’ she says.
The film’s title is inspired by a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar about fate and personal responsibility. ‘If you don’t cry there’s something wrong,’ smiles Shailene.At a cancer support group, the pretty teenager meets Gus – played by Ansel Elgort (who had a small role in Divergent as Shailene’s brother) – a wisecracking, good-looking boy in remission after losing a leg to osteosarcoma (bone cancer). The film has all the heart-rending emotion of the 1970 classic Love Story, which dealt with cancer too, but it’s also funny and irreverent.