Shailene Woodley has revealed she had a health scare in her early 20s that nearly derailed her career.
The Big Little Lies actor, who is now 28, said she became “very, very sick” while working on the Divergent franchise and “said no to a lot of opportunities”.
“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 told The New York Times. “While I was doing the Divergent movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation.
“Because of that, I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going to peers of mine who I love.”
While Woodley did not elaborate on the details of her illness, she added: “There was a mix of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t have let that go’ or ‘You shouldn’t have been sick.’
“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.”
Woodley said she has since recovered and has been working on her mental health.
“Now I’m on the other side of it, thank God,” she said. “A lot of the last few years has been about focusing on mental health for me, and it’s a slow process. But because of that work, I feel very grounded and rooted in who I am and very clear about everything in my life, whether it’s my career or my relationships or my own internal worth.
“I feel very grateful to have walked that line of fire, because now I know what I don’t want to ever go back to.”
Woodley can next be seen in the film Endings, Beginnings, a romantic drama in which she plays a young woman torn between dating two best friends, played by Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan.