The movie scene

Shailene Woodley: Fame is a four-letter word

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 30:  Actress Shailene Woodley attends the screening of A24's "The Spectacular Now" at the Vista Theatre on July 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 30: Actress Shailene Woodley attends the screening of A24's "The Spectacular Now" at the Vista Theatre on July 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Jason Kempin / Getty Images

Shailene Woodley calls fame “the F-word.”

“I’m fine with the other F-word,” the 21-year-old actress says. “But that F-word is too much.”

She better get ready. An actress since age 5, Woodley earned notice and an Independent Spirit Award for playing the teen daughter of George Clooney’s character in The Descendants. On Friday, she can be seen in another indie, The Spectacular Now. And she has just wrapped work on a project that could bring her Twilight-sized fame.

“I have a very, very fun life outside of this industry, so if anything were to not happen or if things got to be way too overwhelming … I will go and be an herbalist,” says the actress. “I never want to stop. I want to act until the day that I’m not here anymore. But the day it becomes boring is the day I’ll quit.”

That’s not likely. Woodley just finished filming her most empowered role yet, the lead in Divergent, the big-screen adaptation of the young-adult novel that’s been compared to The Hunger Games. And if it’s as popular as predicted when it hits theaters next year, Woodley may have to leave her anonymity behind.

“I’ll never, ever think of myself as famous, even if I ever get to the point of George Clooney … because I think you might go crazy if you start referring to yourself in those terms,” she says, considering a future marked by paparazzi and private entrances. “But . . . I have such amazing friends and the perfect family … that I don’t see anything changing.”

She’s already playing by her own rules where she can. She often skips makeup on red carpets to feel more like herself. And when she does submit to full regalia, she tucks a favorite crystal necklace beneath her designer dress. She also talks about herbs and the environment every chance she gets.

In The Spectacular Now, she plays Aimee Finicky, a shy, smart high-school senior who develops a relationship with classmate Sutter Keely ( Miles Teller), a popular, charming, hard-partying kid who takes life as it comes. Though they appear to be ill-matched, they help each other grow past self-imposed boundaries.

Woodley will start filming the independent medical drama The Fault in Our Stars with Laura Dern later this month.

She doesn’t like when paparazzi follow her, which happened recently for the first time, but she’s applying her sunny attitude to the challenges of fame.

“There’s this obsession in our society and in our culture about actors,” she says. “The magazines and the excess and red carpets and the heels, they’re kind of terrifying. I’m able to handle it, and it’s fun, and I can enjoy it, but it’s terrifying on a human level, just looking at our culture and thinking, `In 50 years are we going to look back to this moment in time and roll our eyes?’ ”

Sandy Cohen

The Associated Press

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