With Roles in ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ and ‘Divergent,’ Will 2014 Be The Year Of Shailene Woodley?

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

2014 is going to be a really big year for actress Shailene Woodley.

Twenty-one-year-old Woodley, already well known as the star of the successful TV series "The Secret Life Of The American Teenager," earned rave reviews for her work in the movie "The Descendants," and she's currently shooting what should be one of next year's box office blockbusters, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," in which she'll play Mary Jane Watson. Now Woodley's name is linked to two more high profile projects.

It was announced Tuesday that Woodley has been offered the lead role in the screen adaptation of John Green's Young Adult bestseller "The Fault In Our Stars." The story of two young cancer patients who fall in love, "The Fault In Our Stars" earned enthusiastic reviews in print, and is expected to be a major screen attraction for 2014. In a press release, director John Boone made it clear Woodley is the actress he wants for the movie.

"During our exhaustive search to find Hazel Grace Lancaster, I saw some stunning auditions by today's finest young actresses," Boone said. "Over 250 girls read for the part, but it wasn't until Shailene stepped in front of the camera that I truly saw Hazel for the first time. It was like lightning striking. I can't wait for the rest of the world to see what I have."

John Green, who wrote the book, is also keen on Woodley for the role. "I am absolutely thrilled that Shailene will be playing Hazel in 'The Fault In Our Stars,'" Green said. "It means a lot to me that she is a fan of the book, and I know from our conversations that she has a profound understanding of Hazel. Watching her audition, I felt like Hazel Grace Lancaster was talking to me. It was eerie -- and very exciting."

Woodley already has another major Young Adult adaptation on her agenda - she's been confirmed to play Beatrice Prior in the much-anticipated screen version of Veronica Roth's "Divergent." Set in a future where society has collapsed and humanity has divided itself into factions based on shared beliefs and personality traits, "Divergent" follows Beatrice as she abandons the group in which she was raised and finds both love and danger in the outside world.

With a cast that also features Kate Winslet and Aaron Eckhart, "Divergent" is expected to tap into the same market for darker teen-themed fare that made "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" into literary and cinematic moneymakers (like those books, "Divergent" is also the first in a series, equaling franchise possibilities which are much beloved in Hollywood), and the casting of Woodley as Beatrice and Theo James as Four has already generated plenty of buzz among fans.

As if this weren't enough, Woodley will also be starring in "White Bird In A Blizzard," a new film from iconoclastic indie director Gregg Araki about a young woman whose reunion with her long-long mother (played by Eva Green) proves tumultuous. With any luck, Woodley and her representatives have penciled in time for a nap sometime in the next eighteen months.