LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For actress Shailene Woodley, transitioning from her teen years into adulthood in Hollywood was an emotional experience.
“When I saw ‘Fault in Our Stars’ for the first time, I started crying,” Woodley said of her hit coming-of-age cancer film earlier this summer.
“I recognized that this is such a bittersweet moment, because this is the last young adult film I’d ever do, because I can no longer empathize with the teenage process.”
Woodley, 22, has carved out a career playing teen heroines, from Tris in the “Divergent” film adaptations and cancer patient Hazel in “Fault in Our Stars,” to Kat Connor in “White Bird in a Blizzard,” out in U.S. theaters on Friday.
In “White Bird,” Woodley plays a complex young girl who has to come to terms with her beautiful but troubled mother Eve (Eva Green) suddenly going missing.
Sprawled out on the floor of a Los Angeles hotel room, Woodley talked to Reuters about portraying teen sexuality, violence in young adult films and whether she’d ever enter the Marvel universe.
Q: There’s been a lot of attention on your sex scenes and nudity in “White Bird.” Do you think that distracts attention from the rest of the film?
A: It’s not a surprise because it’s America. Sex is so suppressed in America publicly; people don’t talk about it or mention it, and so it wasn’t a surprise that that’s what everyone’s focused on.
Q: How do you think sexuality is conveyed in today’s world?
A: I think we have a long way to go in America as far as representing sexuality. I think of it as a spectrum, because it’s either overly in-your-face and exploited, which is so skewed and unrealistic. Unfortunately that’s what a lot of young people base their own sex lives on, that of which they see in movies, which is so funny. Or it’s super under the covers, pretending it doesn’t exist, and if you talk about sex, you’re dirty. And that’s not real either.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of developing that tension between Kat and her mother with Eva Green?
A: It was challenging in the sense that Eva and I didn’t really get to know each other. She was working on something else so she came in and then she left, but I think that lent to our relationship, that distance between the two of them.
Q: How do you avoid Tris and Four’s relationship from overshadowing the rest of the themes in “Divergent” sequel “Insurgent?”
A: Theo (James, who plays Four) and I are so lucky to have each other, because Theo’s a man, he’s not a boy, and I think that immediately eradicates the cheese factor, because anything he does is not going to be a cheesy, hot young boy taking his shirt of in a film. He brings a certain masculinity that I think a lot of young actors couldn’t bring, so that in itself adds a lot. Then we’re both, Theo and I, very keen in the relationship staying grounded and staying truthful.
Q: Many young adult novels have been dealing with dystopias where young people are thrown into violent situations. How does ‘Divergent’ handle the severity of teens fighting?
A: I think it’s sad. I think that “Divergent” doesn’t glamorize or endorse firearms or weaponry or violence in any way, shape or form. I think it shows the tragedy of it all.
Q: There’s a whole slew of Marvel superhero movies slated over the next five years. Could you ever join that world?
A: I would love to be part of the Marvel world, I personally love Marvel movies. Honestly, I think they’re all just so fun.
I haven’t seen “Guardians of the Galaxy” yet and I‘m so excited to see it. But they just take you somewhere and it’s an escape. And I love that. That’s part of why we love movies.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy