No one ever accused Shailene Woodley of being your typical Hollywood starlet.
From her breakout role in the hit series "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" to holding her own opposite George Clooney in "The Descendants," Woodley has proven she's more than a pretty face (though she certainly has that too). But when you launch to stardom at an age when most of your peers' biggest worries revolve around zits and the prom, it can be difficult to grow into young adulthood with any grip on reality. Unless you happen to be Shailene, that is.
The now-22-year-old star seems to have escaped the fate of so many child actors, and — despite her fame, which is only set to become even more all-encompassing with the release of "Divergent" this month and "The Fault in Our Stars" in June — she's somehow managed to do the impossible: keep it real. As her latest interview with The Hollywood Reporter reveals, with Woodley, what you see is what you get. Here are just a few reasons she's (in our humble opinion) one of the most refreshing talents in Tinseltown.
1. She's frank about who she loves.
"I fall in love with human beings based on who they are, not based on what they do or what sex they are," she told the trade.
While it's not exactly a direct answer to any question about her sexuality or preferences, it's (almost) painfully honest. True, she's not the first thesp to blur the lines when it comes to romance (Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood came before her, to name a few), but remember: She is only 22 and she has the leading role in what is poised to be the next blockbuster young adult franchise. In other words, saying something like this does have its risks for a woman in her position. But she said it anyway — because that's who she is.
2. She keeps her old, non-famous friends around.
Though she has certainly picked up her share of famous friends over the years (like Jennifer Lawrence, who famously convinced Shailene to take on "Divergent" when she had reservations), Woodley remains remarkably close with her two best friends, one man and one woman, who aren't part of the Hollywood set. The three were pretty much inseparable at Sundance earlier this year and, according to Shailene, enjoy activities like foraging for strange fruits in the various cities they visit.
3. She stayed in school, despite having a series on television.
While juggling her shooting schedule as the lead on "Secret Life," Shailene also managed to remain a high school student — and a 4.0 AP student, at that. Oh, and none of those classes were for drama. "Acting was such a big part of my life outside of high school, and I wanted to really dedicate high school to other things that I was passionate about," she said, noting that four years of singing in the choir was among those things.
4. She admits she's been jealous of other actresses.
Sure, it's hardly news that actresses compete with each other, but how many can you name who actually admit they've felt angry and jealous… especially back when they were 9 years old? Not that many, right? But Shailene seems more comfortable with herself than some of her peers, comfortable enough to admit that when she lost the role in "I Am Sam" to Dakota Fanning, her dad pulled her aside and basically talked her off the ledge by convincing her to "support Dakota on her journey." Remarkably, Shailene listened to him. That's another thing about her that seems shockingly real: She listens to her dad.
5. She only buys used clothes (and refuses to shop at Kitson).
This could seem gimmicky if coming from a different star, but Shailene preaches oneness with the Earth, claims her religion is "the Earth," and — as previously mentioned — enjoys activities like foraging for fruit. In other words, she's a hippie at heart, and that's the truth.
"I'm going to be a citizen of this planet, and I'm going to do my responsibility and live in stride with nature instead of constantly fighting against her," she explained. "Kitson? Yeah, that'll never happen. I exclusively buy used clothes." She later described herself as "doing the vagabond lifestyle for a bit."
6. But she still realizes she has a job to do, and part of that job is glamming it up for the red carpet.
Though Shailene would be happy to wear used duds to a film premiere, she's real enough to know that isn't going to fly.
"When I go on a red carpet, I'm Shailene, but I'm also Shailene representing a movie. I'm there for my boss, for my employer, so part of that comes with wearing the uniform," she quips. But even with this understanding, she remains true to herself and won't wear fur or diamonds. And, at the Independent Spirit Awards last weekend, she topped her couture dress with a grey fleece hooded sweatshirt whenever the cameras weren't looking. In other words, she'll play the part for the producers, but she's going to do it on her terms.
7. If a scene calls for nudity, she does it (gasp!) in the nude.
Sometimes clothes aren't an issue at all, however, like when she's got a nude scene to shoot.
"When somebody's doing a sex scene and they're wearing a bra and underwear, that's not how it happens in real life," Woodley says. "If I'm going to say yes to a movie where this is necessary, then I'm going to bring truth to that situation." See also: that raw first-time scene in last year's "The Spectacular Now."
8. She's a hugger. Even with journalists.
It's not every day that celebrities show any sign of affection towards reporters. It simply never happens. So the fact that Shailene has become known for her hugs is actually pretty shocking. The reason for the squeezes? "We've got a set amount of time in our lives, you know. You might as well make every conversation count," she explains to THR. "So that's like the hug. It's kind of like, 'Hey, I'm real. You're real. Let's connect.'"
9. She has interests outside of acting.
Real people have interests outside of their jobs. Shailene's occupation is acting, but she has interests that reach well beyond the set. She places reading and traveling at the top of her list, but also reveals that she other aspirations as well.
"I might open a restaurant and it's going to be like restaurant in the morning, dance club at night," she quips. "Who knows?"
Something tells us that she won't be getting around to that second career for some time — she's a little busy making some of the most anticipated movies of the next few years.
"Divergent" opens in theaters on March 21.