Shailene Woodley: We’re conditioned to ‘assume one person can be our end-all, be-all’

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Shailene Woodley has a new profile in the New York Times. The interview was conducted via a phone call, because of the corona-lockdown. She’s promoting Endings, Beginnings, which was supposed to get a theatrical release this month but now it will be on demand and on digital. It’s a romance/drama about “Daphne, a young woman torn between dating two best friends: Jack (Jamie Dornan), a nice guy offering stability and comfort, and Frank (Sebastian Stan), who’s wilder, harder to pin down and better in bed.” Wow, that sounds like a good movie, actually? There are so few romances made these days, I miss them. Anyway, you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

This is the longest she’s been at home since she was 17: “I’m an introvert’s introvert, so this feels like heaven in a lot of ways because I don’t have to talk to people, I don’t have to deal with people, I don’t even have to look at people. I can play the game of being an extrovert when I need to — it’s a big part of my job — but my happy place is honestly being alone.”

Whether the film had an intimacy coordinator for the sex scenes: “For me, intimacy coaches make me uncomfortable because it feels like another set of eyes that I don’t need. But I have no problem stopping production when I’m uncomfortable, and I don’t think that’s the case for a lot of people, so I think it’s wonderful that there’s a lifeline that people can lean on to know they’ll be protected. That being said, the best thing a director could do is ask an actor right off the bat: “What are you comfortable with? What are your boundaries?”

Whether Daphne could just end up dating both men: “Listen, I’m someone who has experienced both an open relationship and a deeply monogamous relationship in my life, and I think we’re in a day and age where there should be no rules except for the ones designed by two people in a partnership — or three people, whatever floats your boat! But there has to be a level of responsibility in any relationship dynamic, and that responsibility is simply honesty and communication and trust. Apart from that, it’s really none of our business what people choose to do with their lives.”

On love: “We’re societally conditioned to assume that one person can be our end-all, be-all. This is a concept I’ve been thinking about often right now, because I’m very much single [after being in a relationship for years with the rugby player Ben Volavola], and I’ve chosen to be single for a while. The idea of being with someone … is it only because you’ve fallen in love with that person, or because there’s a newness to understanding yourself because of what that person can offer you?

What she was like a decade ago, at 18: “In my late teens, I had a strong idea of my identity and the meaning of my life, but then I went through an abusive relationship. That combined with, honestly, the commercial success I had in this industry began to wear on my strength. My 20s felt a little bit like being in a washing machine, where you’re being thrown all over the place….I haven’t spoken much about this yet publicly, and I will one day, but I was very, very sick in my early 20s. While I was doing the “Divergent” movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation. 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. 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!”

How she feels now: “Now I’m on the other side of it, thank God. 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.

[From The NY Times]

Maybe I’ve been quarantined for too long, but some of what Shailene said was really f–king deep, right? Especially what she says about love and whether one person can fulfill you and all that. As for her health struggles… I get the feeling that it was a combination of a mental health issue and a physical issue, and I wonder about the abusive relationship she mentions. Poor Shailene. She sounds really interesting here.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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20 Responses to “Shailene Woodley: We’re conditioned to ‘assume one person can be our end-all, be-all’”

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  1. Slowsnow says:

    3 things
    Always really liked her and prefer the Divergent series to the Hunger Games
    Horrible to know she was in an abusive relationship
    I don’t understand why a 28 year old has 2 love interests in a film that are almost in their forties

    • Julie says:

      ^^^this times 1000. I think women from a young age are conditioned to be seen as “more mature” than their male counterparts. That attitude is problematic in numerous ways but (in my opinion) it also carries over into our films and television shows. It’s like the whole entertainment industry casts like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused

    • CellarDoors says:

      I’m so over white men w/ONE (or 2, but Drake Doremus only had Like Crazy let’s be honest) getting COUNTLESS opportunities to direct films, AND after multiple poorly reviewed ones. this one is a female story & PoV, naturally! I can think of SO many female filmmakers who get shut out allllll the time. Could only DREAM of the chances & failing upward.

      This film landed a VERY famous cast (Woodley, Dornan, Stan – they all have mega famous worldwide franchises too under their belt) which brings an even broader potential audience. I’m just so sick of the double standard. No studio would hire Catherine Hardwick for TEN YEARS after Red Riding Hood bombed. Kathryn Bigelow made history but that wasn’t enough for financiers to think twice after Detroit didn’t do well. Disney bts blamed Ava DuVernay for A Wrinkle In Time not doing well. During Charlie’s Angels it was rumored that in email, studio heads called Elizabeth Banks a “handful” & “a mistake.” Even Stan has spoken out that he’s disap pointed the film didn’t “get more love” – but you KNOW it’s about more than that…

      Look at Stan’s previous movie, directed by a WoC & w/friggin Nicole Kidman. Didn’t get an awards season campaign, minimal attention paid to its rollout & advertising.

      It’s all a joke & this guy’s movie is an excellent example. I’ll start caring when they give female filmmakers the same chances. PARTICULARLY the opportunity to fail & still keep making movies.


    I hope people don’t start speculating about what her sickness was. She shouldn’t have to deal with that, and it’s up to her to reveal it when she wants to.

    I was never aware she was in an open relationship. I don’t know why people police those so much or look down on them. I’ve never been in one and the idea never appealed to me, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

    • Jensies says:

      I agree with you, and think it’s great that you’ve got that open stance, and that other people are starting to as well. I work a lot with folks in the poly community, and it can work really well for some folks. It’s just all about communicating really well with your partners, and managing your own stuff and having really good boundaries.

    • N.N says:

      Delete pls. Didn’t mean this as a reply lol

  3. Nikki* says:

    I’ve always thought she has a kind of “girl next door” beauty that’s relatable, as well as a very intelligent and vulnerable presence. I’m rooting for her!

  4. Otaku fairy says:

    I agree with her take on open relationships, but don’t think we’re there yet as a society for everyone, which is why it’s kind of surprising that she’s admitting this.

    • Cdnkitty says:

      Once I realized that I couldn’t be everything for one person and didn’t need one person to be everything for me, my relationships became more fulfilling. I like polyamory for me. It works better than monogamy (and honesty and fidelity are the most important things in the end).

    • frenchtoast says:

      Society is obsessed with happily ever after so people someimes neglect other forms of relationships. That’s not the way to go imo because I’ve seen people who would only focus on love relationships and neglect their friends, then they break up and don’t have a support system.
      tbh I thought tha’s what she meant at first, that just because you have a girlfreind or boyfreind doesn’t mean they have to be your everything or that you can’t prioritize and nurture other forms of love, not just romantic.

  5. Astrid says:

    The movie sounds like the plot from the movie Casablanca. Does Ingrid Bergman go with the man doing good during WWII or does she go with a bar owner, Humphrey Bogart?

  6. Rae says:

    I was fully expecting to come in and this be about politics, but I was pleasantly surprised and I think she talks a lot of sense.

    Jamie Dornan AND Sebastian Stan in the same movie? TAKE MY MONEY!

    I would watch this even if the synopsis said “ Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan watch grass grow”. Sounds good to me!

  7. Winnie Cooper’s Mom says:

    This sounds like the exact same plot as the movie, ‘The Good Guy’ with Alexis Bledel. Just that this one has better actors. It is a shame they don’t make many cute romance or rom-com films anymore like they did in the 90s and early 2000s. I really like her and hope to see her have a long, successful career.

  8. C-No says:

    I have long espoused that one person should never be the center of your universe. Not your partner, your mother, your kid, you boss, whatever. If you only have one sun and that sun leaves you (by whatever means), the loss is catastrophic. When your sun goes supernova you get burned and the darkness afterwards is so deep.

    When my fiance — my best friend — left me when I was 22, it was the worst thing I had ever experienced. Losing your partner is terrible; losing your best friend at the same time is devastating. It nearly broke me and I swore I would never make a man the center of my life again. When my (ex)husband left me 12 year later, it was terrible. After 10 years of marriage he was my biggest sun, but not, thank God, my only. My sun went supernova and the darkness was very deep for a very long time. But there are brilliant bright lights in my darkness, and the light and warmth from my girlfriends, my aunties and my cat have helped me hold on long enough, until now, when finally my own light is coming back.

    So spread the love y’all. You are a sun in someone’s darkness. Shine bright.

    • Elizabeth says:


      I completely relate to your message and also learned that lesson well based on real life experiences. No matter how deep/special/life-altering a particular relationship is, it’s very important to maintain one’s independence and other relationships/friendships/hobbies.

      Very few parts of a person’s life truly last forever so it’s healthy to try and maintain a healthy balance . . . Those other interests and friends will help to fill in the gap if a relationship/marriage falls apart.

      • frenchtoast says:

        Hobbies and friend are just as valuable and shouldn’t be seen as props to just fill the void of an inexistent relationship. One of the main reason relationships don’t last is because of imbalance, one person hasn’t developed any passion or solid friendships, makes one person their universe and become clingy as hell. The other person eventually gets tired of their neediness.

  9. frenchtoast says:

    Neediness is just never attractive, regardless of what anyone says.

  10. Ette says:

    I’m sad her team shoved her back in the closet to make her more ‘palatable’ to the mainstream. She was always natural & honest and for a while was open about bisexuality & even was out in public w/her gf multiple times. Big Little Lies was a revival in a way for her career, on a drama/prestige level. The fake rugby bf her team found her, going to more fashion shows, & making her hair grow back & longer to be more feminine. Hollywood bts equates heteronormativity w/risk-free money. Anything else is a liability, & it’s upsetting.

    I assumed the problem was an eating disorder early on. She seems healthy & refreshed now thankfully. She’s very talented. I was blown away by her in The Spectacular Now & Descendents (w/George Clooney)

  11. TeamMeg says:

    The new movie would be so meta if Shailene’s character, Daphne, convinces stable-but-boring Jack to watch 50 Shades of Grey with her so he can learn to be a better lover. ;-)

  12. N.N says:

    I think people police open relationships because a lot of them don’t work. I’ve seen people use open relationships and poly relationships as excuses for abusive behavior, cheating, that sort of stuff. It has soured some people’s opinions of them.

    I don’t care either way, but I’ve seen poly relationships that work and I think they’re just like monogamous relationships. Have never seen open relationships that worked or began for the right reasons, though.

    I still remember when neckbeards went off on her for “not being attractive enough” to play Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Geeks are the worst.

    I also remember when she said people should eat clay or something to “detox” our bodies? She always came across as a vaguely annoying New Age/Hippie/Hipster chick, tbh. Now I wonder if that was her or if was her PR team.