Shailene Woodley Just Got Very Real About Her Movie Career

For a young star, the movie business can be quick to pigeonhole an actor as befitting only one type of story. But few necessarily viewed that as an issue Shailene Woodley was forced to contend with.

The actress — who first rose to prominence with 2011’s The Descendants — took a temporary break from Hollywood in the late 2010s. But now she’s back with several new projects in the works.

And in a new interview, Woodley did not hesitate to reveal why moviegoers might notice a trend in her big-screen work.

Shailene Woodley on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
Shailene Woodley on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ | NBC

Shailene Woodley is best known for ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

Despite making her breakthrough role in 2011, Woodley has actually been acting since the early 2000s. Back then, she was almost exclusively a TV actress. With recurring roles on shows such as Crossing Jordan and The O.C., Woodley had only appeared in two previous films before The Descendants. Since then, of course, she’s been in a bunch of movies, often as the lead.

However, the most iconic role Woodley has played is Hazel Grace Lancaster in director Josh Boone’s The Fault in Our Stars. Based on John Green’s novel, the 2014 movie stars Woodley and Ansel Elgort as two cancer patients who fall in love. Between this release, 2013’s The Spectacular Now, and 2018’s Adrift, Woodley has become a veteran of teen-targeted romantic dramas.

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The actress recently addressed why she’s in so many love stories

Woodley recently joined Jamie Dornan in the latest edition of Wired‘s Autocomplete Interview series. The pair co-star in Endings, Beginnings, a new — you guessed it — romantic drama. And eventually, one of the most-searched questions addressed Woodley’s tendency to appear in the genre. Taken aback at first, Woodley then surprised fans with her honest, thoughtful response about the industry.

I love love. Also, there’s just a lot of opportunities for women my age to be in romance movies and not a lot of opportunities to do other things. I’d say that those are probably the number one most available projects to be a part of unless you just want to be like a girlfriend in the background or a flight stewardess. So that’s probably why I’ve done so many romance movies, but also because I love love.

Woodley certainly has a point. After all, actresses in her age group often fall into the trap of playing the passive, supportive significant other to a male lead. At least in the roles she’s had, Woodley has often been just as vital to the story as her co-stars. In fact, she frequently carries the movies more than her on-screen lovers.

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‘Divergent’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ proved how much range she has

In the midst of adding several hit romantic dramas to her filmography, Woodley has also found some room to stretch her acting muscles. For three movies, she headlined the dystopian sci-fi world of Divergent and its sequels. And she very nearly popped up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Mary Jane Watson, though her scenes were ultimately deleted.

Perhaps most impressive is her supporting role as Jane Chapman on Big Little Lies. Woodley’s co-stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern have received the lion’s share of attention for that HBO series. But Woodley delivers an equally impactful performance. Perhaps casting agents should remember that the next time they think of the actress.