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With a hit TV show and a breakout film role as George Clooney’s teenage daughter in “The Descendants,” Shailene Woodley could be forgiven for whooping it up in Hollywood nightclubs. Instead, the 20-year-old is more likely to be found tending to her vegetable patch.
“I think I was just born with an intense love affair with trees,” she laughs, curling up barefoot on a sofa on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Martinez, her wooden Marni platform shoes discarded on the floor. As a former child actor, Woodley has more in common with the world’s Lindsay Lohans than would appear. Most people know her as Amy Juergens in the ABC Family drama “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
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With another two seasons to go on her contract, Woodley is fitting movie shoots — such as the upcoming “The Spectacular Now” — around her busy TV filming schedule. “I’d rather at this point do a small scene in a Meryl Streep movie than do the lead of a super action hero movie,” she says. “I really respond to human scripts, scripts that are raw, and real, and risky. I love playing scary characters — not horror-film scary, but vulnerable scary.”
Woodley is keeping it in perspective.
“I would love to act for the rest of my life, but I also know that it could be taken away in a day,” she says. “It’s something I’ve always loved, but it’s nothing I’ve ever revolved my entire life around. I have many other passions as well.”
The biggest of these is the environment.
“Growing your own food, hunting and knowing your natural resources, collecting spring water,” explains Woodley, who grew up north of Los Angeles in Simi Valley, Calif. “I’m really passionate about becoming a self-sovereign human being, independent of any system or corporation.”
Accordingly, Woodley is not much of a clotheshorse. Though she uses a stylist for red-carpet events, she rejects the phenomenon of the actress as fashion arbiter.
“I think it’s ridiculous that the boundaries have been crossed between cinema and fashion. They’re both their own separate art forms,” she says. “I didn’t start acting in order to wear something beautiful and wear lots of makeup. That’s not why I do this. I do this because I really love being on a film set.“
So where does Woodley see herself in 10 years’ time?
“I’d like to be living somewhere in the middle of the woods, flying to L.A. when I need to, and balancing my lifestyle of living in stride with the Earth as well as being in this industry,” she says. “I think there are ways to bridge gaps between my two worlds: My wild, muddy-all-the-time, no-makeup, no-shoes world, and this world, which is high heels and fancy clothes.”