Shailene Woodley explains her decision to give Jane terrible bangs on ‘Big Little Lies’

Blake Shelton at Ugly Dolls Premiere in Los Angeles

The only time I’ve ever really liked or enjoyed a performance by Shailene Woodley is right now, as I’m watching Big Little Lies 2. Shailene was good in the first series too, but she’s even better in the second series. Her acting is so delicate and yet… grounded and realistic. Meryl Streep and her fake teeth are insulting short people and Laura Dern thinks she’s in a Spanish soap opera and then there’s Shailene’s Jane. You can feel that a certain weight has been lifted from Jane and the way Shailene has been playing “a more mature and happier” Jane has been really nice to see. She’s doing right by survivors, she’s doing right by single mothers, and she’s grounding a lot of these crazier storylines. Literally the only issue I have is that Shailene/Jane got some absolutely awful bangs this season. But Shailene explained the choice to THR and now I understand. Some highlights from this THR interview:

She’s portraying a woman healing from trauma: “I thought it was really important to show a young woman who had survived rape and who had survived so many atrocities in her life — like being a young mother without very much support from anyone else around her — and yet forging through with a bravery and a courage that has helped give her son a beautiful life. That we provide her a chance to heal. And that we show what one person’s healing journey can look like. Because all of our paths to healing look so incredibly different. It’s important if we’re talking about these subject matters to also talk about how these things might be a part of your story, but they don’t have to define who you are. And that was the case with Jane this year.

The bangs were her idea: “I’ve been in this position in my life where, after a major breakup, triumph or celebration or after a big change, a lot of people alter the way they look. I know for myself, it’s always been haircuts and piercings. That’s been my way of moving forward in new chapters of my life. I felt that for Jane, she’s carried this weight of not feeling in her own body because of what happened to her for eight years. She felt disconnected from her own identity on not just an emotional and mental level, but on a physical level as well. At the end of season one when Perry (Skarsgard) died, I felt like maybe two or three weeks after that incident she would have woken up one morning, looked at herself in the mirror and thought, “This isn’t who I am anymore. This monster is gone and I’m not going to let him live in me or control me any longer.” In that moment, I feel like she took a pair of scissors and cut her bangs herself. And she went through her closet and gathered up almost everything and took it to the nearest clothing swap store and donated it and got new clothes in order to reestablish and be in control of her identity again. I felt like that would have been her reclaiming her space, even if it was a subconscious decision, because this ghost who has been a part of her identity for so long had then left on the physical level.

On Meryl’s character Mary Louise: “No matter how conniving or rude or sketchy Mary Louise can be, she’s always grounded in her form of justice and there’s something to be said for that. Our show explores the themes of not being seen, not being heard and loneliness. Even this group of women who are now “friends,” they’re friends forced by circumstance. They’re not natural friends. Maybe Celeste [Kidman], Jane and Madeline [Witherspoon] are. But all of these women don’t necessarily truly get along or agree with one another. But they love each other based on the experience that they shared. And I think Mary Louise is an extension of that extreme loneliness in a room full of people who feel that constantly. But because of the facade and all the white-picket fences we put around our personalities, pretend like everything is fine when the house is burning down. Mary Louise doesn’t have time for any of that. She cuts through the B.S. in her pursuit of justice and that’s what feels so abrasive about her, but that’s what also feels very intriguing about her.

[From THR]

I think she’s wrong about Mary Louise – Mary Louise is, to me, exactly the kind of conniving, emotionally abusive a–hole who helps create a monster like Perry. And Mary Louise is being abusive and uncivil to everyone else too. As for the bangs trauma – literally, the bangs represent a new start, and I think Shailene was actually… right. Not about the bangs, but about how Jane would have cut her own hair and given away her clothes and all that. It was a new start. Healing. As I said, I really like Shailene in this role.

Blake Shelton at Ugly Dolls Premiere in Los Angeles

Photos courtesy of HBO.

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11 Responses to “Shailene Woodley explains her decision to give Jane terrible bangs on ‘Big Little Lies’”

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  1. bonobochick says:

    Mary Louise is pit viper.

  2. elimaeby says:

    OMG. “Laura Dern thinks she’s in a Spanish soap opera…” I literally spit some of my tea. You hit the nail on the head there, Kaiser and BLL is one of my favorite shows airing right now.

  3. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Both things can be true. Mary Louise IS conniving and emotionally abusive and it’s clear why Peter turned out the way he did. But from HER standpoint she is looking for justice for her son. So on that level Shailene is right about her. It’s not really an argument about whether or not Mary Louise is right.

    And I love how she explained about Jane wanting to take back control of her body and physicality. That rings true.

    • maya8 says:

      I agree in part about Mary Louise looking for justice. But i feel that she’s looking at the wrong places. Why doesn’t she look at her son’s life like she is doing with Celeste, with everyone else. The police can’t tell her about her son’s life. I think it’s just that she doesn’t care about anyone else, only that someone dared to kill HER son. She’s a sociopath.

      • Deedee says:

        I think consciously or subconsciously she knows Perry is capable of exactly what’s he’s been accused for but cannot accept it as of yet, for whatever reason. It’s hard to believe that this woman with her sense of directness, shall we say, would allow something like abuse to occur in her own household without saying/doing something about it, but then again, looks and actions are deceiving. Time will tell, but I have a feeling either Perry or she was directly involved in her other son’s death.

  4. minx says:

    I just caught up on season 2 BLL and I really love it. The acting is just superb. I enjoy the secret car chats by the Monterey 5.

  5. Elisa says:

    I love her ever since Divergent!

  6. Spicecake38 says:

    Mary Louise is not likeable but here’s the thing…-Did she have a very big part in creating an abusive son via her own personality which I suppose could happen,or was she another Celeste ,and misguidedly watched it happen over time to Perry?
    And another question,could Perry have been so violent as a child(as was Max) and then he witnessed it from somewhere; that perhaps he killed his brother and ML knows but *doesn’tknow*?Possibilities lie ahead,and although I didn’t like that she confronted Jane how she did she really wants to know her other grandson;for now I truly believe that.I I don’t understand the bangs or the fake teeth 😏But I’m wandering if this may eventually lead to women understanding abuse and coming together.One could only hope.
    And no matter what,bangs and all Shailene is quite good at her portrayal.

  7. Nev says:

    she was esp. great in the scene with Meryl when the characters were discussing Perry in the coffee shop.

  8. Silvie says:

    I really love Shailene in this role. I’ve only just started to love Reese as Madeline this season as all of her selfishness has caught up with her, and Reese is doing a great job with that. It’s honestly such a relief and joy to watch TV about flawed women with choices to make. I hope BLL opens the door for more writers to sell shows about female friendship.

  9. Ariel says:

    I am always mesmerized by her and George Clooney’s performances playing off of each other in The Descendants.