Shailene Woodley discusses her breakthrough role in The Descendants, which is now out on Blu-ray and DVD
While fans of the ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager have been enjoying Shailene Woodley's work for the past few years, the 20-year-old actress has arrived in the stratosphere of stardom after her fantastic turn in The Descendants. The drama, which made my Top 10 movies of 2011, is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD, and I had the chance to speak with Shailene Woodley about her experiences on the set of Alexander Payne's Best Picture nominee. Here's what she had to say below.
This was one of my favorite movies of the year, and it was fun to go through the Blu-ray to check out some of the features. There were audition stories from other cast members, but there isn't one for you on there. Do you have a unique story about how you came onto this project?
Shailene Woodley: Yeah, I read the script before both (director) Alexander (Payne) or George (Clooney) were attached. I fell in love with it, because it was so raw, real, and human, and that's such a rarity these days, finding a script that deals with real emotions. I really responded to that and became extremely passionate about it very quickly. A few months later, I auditioned for Alexander, and a few months after that, he personally called me and told me I booked it. It was a long process, but it was really great. I only had one audition with Alexander.
The whole supporting cast is so wonderful as well. It must have been cool to see people like Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Mary Birdsong and this whole cast come together. I loved this whole ensemble.
Shailene Woodley: Yeah, there was not one person on that cast who wasn't just an incredible human being. Every person has such a gift and such life and beauty to them. I just feel so blessed by gaining so many big brothers and sisters on this film (Laughs). I really bonded with a lot of the cast. They're all just incredible people.
George is quite well-known as a prankster on the set. Were there any notable pranks he was pulling on the set of The Descendants?
Shailene Woodley: Yeah, the fart machine would always come up. He would just stand behind you, and he had this fart application on his phone, and it would sound like you farted. I think fart jokes are hilarious, and apparently he does too. The thing about him is he just has a really witty mind. He's constantly coming up with hilarious things to say, on the flip of a coin. You just sit there, flabbergasted. His brain is like a hamster rolling in a ball. It never, ever stops. That head of his is just astounding.
The movie itself, and also the special features, are both such a love letter to Hawaii. Can you talk a bit about getting the chance to film there? I saw some of the special features where they were blessing the set beforehand. Can you talk about how the Hawaiian mindset really sinks in while you're on the set?
Shailene Woodley: I'm in love with Hawaii. I'm kind of obsessed with it. My heart is from there, I always like to say. It's such a thankful place to be. We never took it for granted. We were always hiking or snorkeling or kayaking or jumping off waterfalls. At the very end of the shoot, we went skydiving. We were just very involved in the nature there. The pace is so slow, but I think that's because of the abundance of nature.
The author Kaui Hart Hemmings also has a small role in the film. Did you get to interact with her much, and can you talk about having her on the set?
Shailene Woodley: Oh, it was awesome. Kaui is such an awesome human being. Her book is incredible. I recommend that people read the book, because it's just a phenomenal read. A lot of the humor from the movie comes from the book. She has such a nice soul and her husband is awesome. They're just really fun people, and every time she was on the set, it was exciting.
I remember that George said in an interview that he wanted to see Alexander work more, since it has been seven years since his last movie. Was any of that happening on the set, lobbying to get him to work more?
Shailene Woodley: Honestly, I didn't know who he was. I'm very uneducated when it comes to this industry. I didn't really understand who he was, but I kind of preferred it that way, because I got to know him as Alexander the human being before I knew him as Alexander the awesome famous director.
Your show The Secret Life of the American Teenager comes back on March 26. Is there anything you can tease about where the new season is heading?
Shailene Woodley: Well, I'm actually sitting in the makeup chair now, getting touch-ups after lunch. Well, somebody maybe gets married. A couple maybe gets married. A couple of teachers, maybe. There are a lot of different things, and I might be going to jail (Laughs).
What would you like to say to anyone who might not have seen The Descendants, about why they should pick up the Blu-ray or DVD?
Shailene Woodley: It's human and it's refreshing. I think it's important to start incorporating real cinema into our lives again. I think anyone can connect to it, because it's filled with so many different emotions.
Great. That's my time. Thanks so much for talking to me, Shailene
Shailene Woodley: Thanks! Have an awesome day.