Shailene Woodley is opening up about a health scare in her early 20s that got in the way of her career.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, the Big Little Lies star told the publication, “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 revealed she was going through this while filming the Divergent series and at the same time “struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation.”
Because of that, she added, “I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going peer 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!'”
The actress added, “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.”
On the topic of her 20s, Woodley also shared that while in her late teens she had a “strong idea of my identity and the meaning of my life,” that all felt upended when she 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,” she shared. “As a teenager and as a child, I always thought acting was a hobby, and I never wanted the idea of making it into a career to take away my passion for it.”
She added that in her 20s, “there was a huge chunk of time where fear and anxiety and competition were definitely at the forefront of my mind and my ego in a way they weren’t when I was younger.”
Most recently, Woodley has appeared in HBO’s Big Little Lies and Endings, Beginnings, which will debut on April 17 on digital and on demand May 1.