Shailene Woodley on Why She Had to 'Let Go' of Her Career After 'Divergent' Movies

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Shailene Woodley is opening up about a difficult time in her life where she had to put her health first -- and "let go" of her career. 

In a new interview withThe New York Times, the Big Little Lies star discusses how a "very scary physical situation" caused her to miss out on projects after starring in the Divergent franchise. 

"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," Woodley, now 28, says. 

"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," she adds. 

Woodley doesn't reveal exactly what she was struggling with health-wise, but does share that she was worried about ever being healthy enough to pursue projects she was interested in. 

"'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?'" she recalls thinking. "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."

"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," Woodley says. "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."

Though Woodley has consistently had projects release every year since 2001, she told Porter Edit in 2018 that there was a point before Big Little Lies that her agents didn't "send me anything for almost a year." 

"There was a point in my life, right before Big Little Lies, where I had hit a wall with acting," she said. Woodley initially refused to read the script, but decided to give it a shot after finding out that Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern had signed on. "I read it, fell in love with it, and Laura, who I had worked with on The Fault in Our Stars, called me and that was really the push," she revealed. 

See more on Woodley in the video below. 


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