Shailene Woodley reveals that she passed up numerous career opportunities during the period she was starring in the “Divergent” series due to an unspecified health ailment.
In an interview with the New York Times, the “Big Little Lies” star, 28, opens up about the “very scary” illness and the impact it had on her burgeoning career.
“I haven’t spoken much about this yet publicly, and I will one day, but I was very, very sick in my early 20s,” she says. “While I was doing the ‘Divergent’ movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation.”
This, she explained, led her to pass up projects that would have propelled her to further stardom. “Because of that, I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going to peers of mine who I love,” she adds. “They went on to a lot of success, but there was a mix of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t have let that go!’ or ‘You shouldn’t have been sick!'”
She continues: “That was combined with my own internal process of, ‘Am I going to survive what I’m going through right now and ever be healthy, or even have the opportunity to work on projects I’m passionate about again because of the situation I’m in?’ I was in a place where I had no choice but to just surrender and let go of my career, and it brought out this negative voice in my mind that kept spinning for years and years afterward.”
According to Woodley, whatever that medical issue was, it’s now in her rearview mirror. “Now I’m on the other side of it, thank God,” she adds. “A lot of the last few years has been about focusing on mental health for me, and it’s a slow process. But because of that work, I feel very grounded and rooted in who I am and very clear about everything in my life, whether it’s my career or my relationships or my own internal worth. I feel very grateful to have walked that line of fire, because now I know what I don’t want to ever go back to.”