Though she’s not ready to talk about it in explicit terms, Shailene Woodley spoke about a “very scary physical situation” she endured in her early 20s, at the height of her rising fame while making the “Divergent” films. In an interview with The New York Times‘ Kyle Buchanan, Woodley said she was “very, very sick,” forcing her to “let go” of her career for a beat and pass on high-profile roles that ended up going to her peers.
“I haven’t spoken much about this yet publicly, and I will one day, but I was very, very sick in my early 20s. While I was doing the ‘Divergent’ movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation,” she said. “Because of that, I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going to peers of mine who I love. They went on to a lot of success, but there was a mix of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t have let that go!’ or ‘You shouldn’t have been sick!’”
Woodley currently stars in Drake Doremus’ romantic drama “Endings, Beginnings,” which skipped a theatrical release to open on digital April 17 and on VOD May 1. After breakout roles in “The Descendants” and “The Spectacular Now,” and completing the three films in the “Divergent” series, the 28-year-old actress kept busy in indies, studio projects, and on TV as haunted single mom Jane Chapman in “Big Little Lies.” But, according to the New York Times piece, her steady output wasn’t without internal struggle.
She said that letting go of projects while taking care of herself “combined with my own internal process of, ‘Am I going to survive what I’m going through right now and ever be healthy, or even have the opportunity to work on projects I’m passionate about again because of the situation I’m in?’ I was in a place where I had no choice but to just surrender and let go of my career, and it brought out this negative voice in my mind that kept spinning for years and years afterward.”
Woodley said, however, that she’s in a better place. “Now I’m on the other side of it, thank God.” Her upcoming films include the war drama “Prisoner 760,” with Benedict Cumberbatch, and romantic drama “Last Letter From Your Lover,” opposite Felicity Jones.