How Divergent's Shailene Woodley Feels About Taking Tentpole Movies Vs Indies

Tris Prior stans in front of a large set of pipes in 'Allegiant'

Not all actors can afford to be choosy when it comes to their movie roles. However, Shailene Woodley can -- and throughout her career, she’s chosen a variety of films, both big and small. She recently spoke to the difference between studio films like Divergent and indie films and explained why she’s comfortable doing both.

Shailene Woodley has been acting since she was a teenager -- and to date, she’s starred in more than a dozen films as well as several big TV shows. While she really made a name for herself on the indie circuit with movies like The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, her fame didn’t really explode until she took the lead role of Tris Prior in the Divergent franchise.

It goes without saying that there’s a big difference between an indie drama and a sci-fi action thriller, but that wasn’t Shailene Woodley’s top concern. She recently told The Hollywood Reporter how she approaches choosing roles -- and it sounds like she’s got a pretty logical way of going about it:

I never really do movies thinking about how they’re going to be perceived, whether it’s a huge studio film, television show or small independent film. I do them because I love them, I love the characters involved and I love the other artists involved. If you allow yourself to think too much as an artist about how this is going to be perceived once it’s over, you’re kind of setting yourself up for doom. I think that all movies can elicit specific feelings, and all movies have specific pros and specific cons. I’m just grateful that I have experience in all of the worlds to be able to juxtapose them and to be able to understand why I love independent film and also why I love studio films.

That love of a story has led Shailene Woodley to a successful career. In the same year she did Divergent, she also starred in the hit teen romance The Fault in Our Stars, which wasn’t exactly an indie film, but it also didn’t exactly involve tons of CGI and stunt work. That film’s success in particular helped solidify the actress as a sought-after talent.

In the years since, she’s gone back and forth between bigger and smaller budget fare. She filmed scenes as Mary Jane Watson for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but they didn’t make the final cut of the movie. Most notably, she’s starred in the HBO prestige drama Big Little Lies, which definitely wasn’t an indie production.

Shailene Woodley seemingly had to learn the hard way that it’s best to follow her heart when it comes to picking roles. She recently revealed that she was less than thrilled with her time on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, because she felt the series didn’t reflect her values at all. Since she earned the right to be a bit more selective, Divergent and the two follow-up films are definitely the most tentpole-y productions she’s been a part of, at least in the traditional sense. It’s hard to say when or if another big budget film will strike her fancy but, if it does, her fans can be sure she chose it for a good reason.

Katherine Webb