Shailene Woodley believed that female action stars were a thing of the past during her rise in the film industry. But she had high hopes that she’d be a part of a new generation of tough heroines after her Divergent franchise.
Shailene Woodley hoped ‘Divergent’ would help the return of female action heroes in cinema
There were many reasons why Divergent star Shailene Woodley signed up for the once successful sci-fi series. At first, she was reluctant to lead a franchise with blockbuster potential. But advice from others like Jennifer Lawrence helped relieve her concerns.
“I asked her advice,” Woodley once told Vulture. “I do think we have things in common. We both believe in having fun and still telling the truth. We’re not fashion girls, but we play the game. And we both care deeply about being actors.”
But perhaps it was Woodley’s mother that convinced her to seal the deal. Woodley told her that she was considering rejecting her Divergent offer as well.
“And she said, ‘That seems so unlike you,’” Woodley remembered in a 2014 Bust interview. “Even though you love the character and you love the story and you love what it stands for, you’re gonna say no to it just because it’s $90 million and not $9 million?’”
Woodley felt her mother was right, and she couldn’t base her decisions for Divergent on fear. However, it wasn’t just Divergent’s script that got Woodley on board the project. It was the opportunity to revive female action heroes, who Woodley thought were sorely lacking in cinema.
“I feel like we’ve skipped a generation,” Woodley said. “We had, like, the Ashley Judds, the Sigourney Weavers, the Demi Moores, and then it sort of faded and went into [a period of] making women appear dumb, like they had no worth in the intelligence arena.”
Woodley looked forward to being a part of a new era of female action stars.
“Now there’s this reemergence, and the fact that I get to be part of another cycle is so exciting. I plan to do some major s*** with it,” she said.
Shailene Woodley stepped away from acting after the last ‘Divergent’ movie
The Divergent franchise enjoyed modest success for its first two movies. But the third Divergent film, Allegiant, didn’t enjoy the same levels of success that its predecessors did. The film wasn’t as profitable as some might have hoped it would’ve been at the box office. It also didn’t fair much better critically, and it currently sits at a score of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes based on several critic reviews.
The performance of Allegiant derailed what was supposed to be a fourth and final film in the franchise. There were rumblings of making the fourth film a television film or series as well, which Woodley didn’t take kindly to.
“Last I heard they were trying to make it into a television show. I didn’t sign up to be in a television show,” she once told Screen Rant. “Out of respect to the studio and everyone involved, they may have changed their mind and may be doing something different, but I’m not necessarily interested in doing a television show.”
But a television series didn’t pan out either. Years later, Woodley confided that the failings of the Divergent franchise took its toll on everyone involved.
Although she didn’t particularly regret her involvement in the Divergent films, she confided to Porter that “the last one was a bit of a hard experience for everyone, and that was really what made me think I need to have some human experiences outside of this industry and fall in love with acting again, and Big Little Lies did that for me.”