Shailene Woodley was a young actor on the rise and the ‘Divergent’ movies were meant to rocket her into superstar status, in the same way that Jennifer Lawrence’s career took off thanks to ‘The Hunger Games’. But after the ‘Divergent’ series was canceled before the final movie could even be made, her career didn’t quite explode in the same way. But now Woodley is opening up about her mental state at the time, and it seems there was a lot more happening on a personal level than what she has discussed in the past.
Speaking to Deadline, Woodley revealed:
“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.
“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.
“There was a mix of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t have let that go’ or ‘You shouldn’t have been sick’. That was 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 did assure that she has worked through whatever was troubling her and has come out on the other side. She did not go into detail, although she noted that “I will one day.” Of course, one can speculate on her issues based on what she did say, but let’s just leave that alone for now.
Unfortunately, the ‘Divergent’ pictures, based on the novels by Veronica Roth, were derailed by studio Lionsgate, who went the cash-grab route and decided to split the final book, ‘Allegiant’ into two movies. That plan backfired when ‘Allegiant’ only made $179 million on a budget of $110-142 million. (The first movie made $288.9M on an $85M budget. The second, ‘Insurgent’, made $297.3M on a budget of $110M.) The last theatrical movie was scrapped.
There were plans at that time to make ‘Ascendant’ as a TV movie, to be followed by an ongoing TV series, but Woodley and the other young stars– including Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Zoë Kravitz– were not interested in doing TV. STARZ picked up the rights to ‘Ascendant’ in 2017, but in 2018, announced that the project was dead due to lack of interest.
But Woodley has since changed her tune, co-starring on HBO’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning series ‘Big Little Lies’, along with her ‘Divergent’ co-star Kravitz. The series also features Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Alexander Skarsgård. Woodley was nominated for both the Golden Globes and Emmys for her work.
She may have hit a rough patch, but she is still pretty young– she will turn 29 this year. There is still room for her career to grow. She has two movies in post-production, ‘Prisoner 760’ which co-stars Zachary Levi, and Benedict Cumberbatch, and ‘Last Letter from Your Lover’ with Felicity Jones. She has four more movies lined up after that, so things are looking pretty healthy for her now.
Were you looking forward to ‘Ascendant’? Are you disappointed that the story was never wrapped up properly?