Shailene Woodley Details The “Darkest, Hardest Time” In Her Life

Having experienced a highly publicised breakup last year, Shailene Woodley is opening up about the struggles of heartbreak and moving on in the public spotlight.

From Big Little Lies to Insurgent, Shailene Woodley has gifted audiences around the world some of the most interesting characters and storylines. It’s hard not to feel, in some ways, like we’ve grown up with the star, who came onto the scene young and seems to have only continued to excel, choosing more complex, layered characters throughout her career. It’s also why Woodley’s personal heartbreaks are ones that seem to be collectively felt and while celebrities often sacrifice up their private lives by way of entertainment and tabloid fodder, Woodley has struggled to navigate such challenges. 

In a recent interview with Porter, Woodley opened up about the media scrutiny that has long followed her, but which became almost unbearable in the wake of her split from NFL star, Aaron Rodgers in 2022. Speaking about the attention her private life garnered online, Woodley said: “It honestly never really hit me that millions of people around the world were actually watching these things and paid attention to them. Then, I dated somebody in America who was very, very famous.”

In an attempt to deal with the fanfare surrounding her relationship with Rodgers, Woodley deleted Instagram from her phone. “It was the first time that I’d had a quote-unquote ‘famous’ relationship, and I watched [the] scrutiny, opinions, the desire for people to know my life and his life and our life,” said Woodley. “I’m a very private person, and so I found that any time I posted anything, I instantly felt like I was sharing too much of who I am with people I didn’t necessarily trust.”

For Woodley, the highly publicised breakup was excruciating to live through, but acting proved to be a refuge for the star who channeled her emotion into her character Gia, in the upcoming series Three Women. “I was so grateful that at least I could go to work and cry and process my emotions through my character,” said Woodley. 

Even so, it wasn’t without its challenges. “It was hard to film because I was going through the darkest, hardest time in my life,” said Woodley. “It was winter in New York, and my personal life was shitty, so it felt like a big pain boggle for eight months.”

As Woodley now moves on from the split, she’s focused on letting go of expectations and finding the magic in the little moments. “I’ve always loved getting older, but it’s almost like I feel an exhale; I’ve been waiting so long to experience not giving a f*ck about what other people think about me and my life and the choices I make,” she explained. 

“I’m so excited to continue letting go of so many of the things that controlled me in my twenties; to really experience the joy of life in a way that, when you’re younger, is more difficult to experience.” 

shailene woodley

Three Women is based on the narrative non-fiction book written by Lisa Taddeo and tells the incredible – and at times, heartbreaking – story of the sex lives of three real American women. It was based on nearly a decade of reporting and sees readers meet a homemaker and mother of two whose marriage has lost its passion in the form of Lina in Indiana, 17-year-old Maggie in North Dakota who allegedly has a physical relationship with her married English teacher; and Sloane, a restaurant owner who is happily married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. 

Speaking about the project, Woodley explained: “To me, empowerment simply means truth, vulnerability, acknowledging the good and the bad, the pros, the cons, the ugly, the beauty. The conversation I had with Lisa was about that; we’re not here trying to make a show that’s championing women all around the world to become the best versions of themselves – it’s a show that’s just acknowledging the reality that women face.”

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