Shailene Woodley is already the star of the hit ABC Family series "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." For those not familiar with the show: It's kind of like MTV's "Teen Mom," but all the drama is fiction. Still only a teenager at 19, Woodley is readying her not-so-secret life for the next phase of her budding career.
She's set to star in the Alexander Payne-directed "The Descendants" with George Clooney, and her turn in the drama will likely help her connect to a whole new crop of fans. The film, which opens November 18, centers on a family trying to piece their lives back together.
Clooney plays Woodley's dad who is trying to reconnect with her after his wife gets in a boating accident that leaves her in a coma.
Now that Woodley is ready to show another side of herself, she is the up-and-comer MTV Movies has named the New Class' "Most Likely to Surprise Everyone."
MTV: Do you get excited about roles?
Shailene Woodley: From the second I first read the screenplay for "The Descendants," I was incredibly passionate about it. I loved how human it was and how it dealt with raw emotions, and it didn't try and cover up the messiness of everyday life. So, I was incredibly passionate about it ... And then Alexander became attached, and George Clooney became attached. Those were added components, but it was the screenplay that I fell in love with.
MTV: There are so many points where you can relate to this story. Can you give me a sense of what really hit you hard?
Woodley: There's so many components: the loss of someone or someone being in a hospital or the dysfunctional family. Everyone can relate to all of those; we've all had those hardships. But, for me, it was more about the art of making a film that was real and a film that was human because I feel like cinema has drifted so far away from the truth of humanity that it was really refreshing to be raw and emotional in a film that was also comedic.
MTV: We're always looking ahead, so we're anointing you as a part of our New Class. Does it feel like now the choices are going to be different and more important?
Woodley: People always talk about "strategy" and whatnot. If a screenplay fuels my soul, then that's what fuels my soul, and that's what I'm going to be passionately committed to. I would love to continue to do movies 'cause that's where my heart lies. I'm so grateful to the show, and I look forward to seeing what happens, and in the meantime, I'll go hike the Swiss Alps.
MTV: Is it useful to look at other actors [for inspiration]?
Woodley: Absolutely! I think the world of Natalie Portman and Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I find them so inspiring, not only as actors, but as human beings, and I really respect their choices in films and what they bring to the table.
For more on all the up-and-comers who make up MTV's New Class, visit NewClass.MTV.com.
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