Shailene Woodley
The Descendants

On adoring her wild-child character in The Descendants: She’s raw and messy, and she got to use language you don’t hear in most movies, and it wasn’t glamorized or beautified. I loved that.

On seeing acting as an extension of who she is: That’s my favorite part of acting: just being authentically me within the restrictions of the particular character. So it was kind of a beautiful experience to be able to do that and not have to act. [The Descendants director] Alexander Payne said that when he hired us, he hired us to be ourselves and not to have us act, and that’s really refreshing.

The moment she knew she had no choice but to be an actor: I still don’t know if I have to be an actor. I don’t know if I want to be an actor. I love to act—the expression and the creation of it. But the day it becomes not fun, then I’ll quit. It’s only about giving me those butterflies, and if I don’t have those… It’s not about the glamour and the makeup and the dresses and the red carpets—for me, it’s about being on a film set, in front of a camera, and being able to portray myself as any given character.

The actor whose performance most inspired her views on acting: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is unbelievable, and his performance in Mysterious Skin was the first performance I’d ever seen him do. I remember being so blown away by the vulnerability and the humanness of his performance.

The first film that affected her as something more significant than mere entertainment: Some movies have made me cry; some movies have made me laugh, but I’ve never thought, Wow—if it weren’t for that movie, I’d be a different person. Except Pocahontas. It’s true! If you listen to the lyrics they actually have incredibly valuable lessons for human beings to learn, and whenever I need a pick-me-up I just watch Pocahontas.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARC CARTWRIGHT/VISTALUX

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