Shailene Woodley: More Mature Than George Clooney?

Lizbeth Scordo
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Shailene Woodley (John Shearer/WireImage)
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Shailene Woodley (John Shearer/WireImage)

If you aren't a fan of ABC Family's teen mom drama "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," then you probably didn't know who Shailene Woodley was until late last year. But you most likely do now. What changed? The 20-year-old starred opposite George Clooney in one of 2011's most acclaimed films, "The Descendants," and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Clooney's character's rebellious teen daughter Alex. While Woodley lost out to Octavia Spencer in the race for that particular statue, the breakout star has since won a slew of other honors, including an Independent Spirit award, and became a red carpet staple during awards season.

With the Alexander Payne-directed film now out on Blu-ray and DVD, Woodley talked to omg! about, well, a little bit of everything. And if you were thinking that the young actress might keep things light and 20-year-old-like, think again. The star shares her movie-making-as-painting-a-picture analogy, steers the conversation away from shoes and into hydraulic fracking, and insists she doesn't consider herself famous. In fact, the only time Woodley ventures into immature territory is to share a story involving 50-year-old Clooney and fake flatulence sounds. Read on for the scoop!

You started out in TV as a kid and had never really done movies before "The Descendants." How did you land the role?
It was kind of just a normal audition. I went in, it was a very basic audition process and I auditioned for Alexander [Payne] and worked with him a little bit on the script and that was that. And I've always loved film. I've done a lot of independent film movies, I mean, television movies. I've never done a feature film. So in essence, I mean, it was kind of the same as anything I'd ever done before except raised to a different level.

Did you have a feeling when you read the script that this was going to be a huge movie?
It wasn't really until it actually started happening. I always say when you do a film it's like you're so present in the moment, it's like an artist painting a picture. When you're painting your frame or your canvas you don't think about the gallery it's going to end up in, you're just in that present moment, and that's really what it was with this film. But I really responded to the screenplay. It was so raw and real and human and I thought that was a very rare and beautiful script.

I know you've gotten this question a lot, but I have to ask: What was it like working with George Clooney? Is he just how people would imagine him?
George Clooney is a superhuman. He is so divinely down-to-earth and grateful for his life and such a hard worker. He's so passionate about what he does and incredibly philanthropic. I just think the world of him.

Do you have any funny stories from the set?
He would always bring out his fart application on his phone, which is hilarious. He has an incredibly witty mind so no matter what you said he can always come up with some hilarious retort on the subject and you just sit there boggled at the speed in which his mind works.

Congratulations on your Golden Globe nomination. Did you see that coming at all?
No, I mean you don't really think about anything until it's presented there in front of you. And it was an amazing experience for me. I had no expectations before, so I just feel blessed to have been part of the experience.

FOX Searchlight
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FOX Searchlight

You got some attention on the red carpet when you wore "barefoot" running shoes with your formal dress to a Golden Globes after party. How did you decide on those?
I wanted to wear shoes that I was comfortable in and, you know, people always say that it's controversial or whatever, but to me I don't know. If we paid more attention to basic issues like genocide and global warming and fracking, hydraulic fracking, than we did about the shoes actors wear to afterparties, the world would be a much more educated, peaceful, safer, cohesive place to live.

So many young people who start out in Hollywood at a young age have ended up in trouble. When you got into show biz, did your parents kind of sit you down and have a talk with you? How did you make sure you stayed on the right path?
You know what? I don't agree with that statement. I don't think that it's necessarily people in Hollywood or in this industry that go down that path. I think there's millions of people worldwide who find themselves distracted by drugs or find themselves distracted by alcohol or by partying, regardless of whether they're in this industry or not. The hard thing about this industry is there's a lot of light shed on these individuals. I live a very normal life. I know lots of people my age who are doing those things who never even stepped foot in this industry.

So it was never something you had to think about?
For me, it was really about choosing to listen to my heart and choosing what calls to me. Drugs never called to me. Trees always called to me. So I guess I was lucky enough. But it was definitely a personal decision that I made that I didn't let it, I didn't think, "Oh, I'm in this industry. I've got to be careful." I just thought, "Who am I as a human being and how do I want to live my life?" To me, health is really important and the environment is really important, so I have never gone down that road simply because I'm too passionate about other things in life. But I'm not someone to judge. I don't know anybody's personal situation.

You were well known before but now you're famous. Is that a good thing to you? Or is it kind of a pain dealing with paparazzi and the attention?
I don't consider myself famous. I don't think you can call anyone famous unless they're George Clooney or Julia Roberts or someone of that caliber who literally cannot step foot outside of their house. For me, the f-word is famous, the c-word is celebrity and the s-word is star. I actually despise those words and I don't ever think of myself as famous. I just think of myself as an artist. And the only times when, you know, photographers or any of that gets a little bit annoying is when I'm leaving an event or coming to an event. For the most part I live such a low-key life that I'm never surrounded by that.

Watch a clip from "The Descendants" here:

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