‘Big Little Lies’ Star Shailene Woodley’s Best Movie Roles, Ranked

She has made a name for herself as one of the most versatile and dedicated stars of her generation, with experience in everything from comedy to dark, independent films.

Shailene Woodley is still a young actress but has already established a portfolio that any actor would be proud of. We’ve chosen a few of our favorite Woodley roles, which best showcase her wide range of talents.

Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley | Edward Berthelot/GC Images


Released in 2014, Divergent was Shailene Woodley’s breakout role after years of smaller parts in television and film. Based on a young adult fantasy novel, Divergent told the story of a post-apocalyptic city, where people are divided into different groups based on what virtue they are assigned at their “testing,” a ritualistic ceremony that every young adult must go through.

Woodley plays Beatrice Prior, who discovers that she is “Divergent,” a hidden faction that is frowned upon by lawmakers.

Beatrice, who renames herself “Tris,” must navigate her place in the world, along with her host of new friends, while trying to restore some semblance of justice to the city at large. The film was a big success upon its release, with many critics comparing it favorably to The Hunger Games in the way that it explores dark themes and adult subject matter in a more widely accessible manner. Woodley was also praised by critics for her starmaking turn as Tris. 

Woodley went on to reprise her role in two sequels, Insurgent and Allegiant. There have long been rumors of a possible spinoff, but no set release date as of yet.

‘The Fault in Our Stars’

The same year that Divergent was released, Woodley also starred in another popular film for young adults, with vastly different subject matter. The Fault in Our Stars told the story of a young cancer patient named Hazel Lancaster, who is forced to attend a support group of other young cancer patients. At one of the group meetings, she meets Augustus Waters, a young man around her age who is also suffering from cancer.

Over the next few months, Hazel and Augustus explore their relationship and end up falling in love, only to experience ultimate tragedy. The heart-wrenching story was a huge hit with audiences, who found themselves drawn not only to the touching subject matter but to the maturity and brilliance of Shailene Woodley’s performance. 


Over the next several years, Woodley was to take a notable break from big-budget films and focus on smaller roles. Her next major film role would be the 2018 release Adrift, which proved to be an auspicious choice for the young actress.

The romantic drama is based on a true story, about a young couple that gets stranded at sea and must survive both the elements and their own personal demons as they wait for help to arrive.

With a very small cast and a minimalistic filming style that brings viewers right into the heart of the despair and frustration that the stranded couple had to deal with, Adrift is a difficult film to watch.

However, Woodley’s performance, and the performance of her co-star, Sam Claflin, is brilliant, and even though critics didn’t universally love Adrift, they had nothing but praise for Woodley herself

With a booming career on television, acting on the hit series Big Little Lies, Woodley’s focus isn’t on movies these days.

Still, the actress has proven that she likes to make unexpected choices, so her fans might be able to see her on the big screen sometime in the near future. With talent like hers, Shailene Woodley is just getting started.