Shailene Woodley Opens up About Her 'Physically Dominating' Illness

Shailene Woodley recently opened up about her health, sharing that she's been living with a "physically dominating" illness. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the 29-year-old actress did not offer too many specifics, but did say that the illness "was pretty debilitating." At one point things were so bad that it began to significantly impact her ability to work.

"I said no to a lot of projects, not because I wanted to, but because I physically couldn't participate in them," Woodley explained. "And I definitely suffered a lot more than I had to because I didn't take care of myself. The self-inflicted pressure of not wanting to be helped or taken care of created more physical unrest throughout those years." The Big Little Lies star went on to share that she has come through the worst of the illness, and is getting better each day, but it is something that has left a major impact on her life.

"I'm on the tail end of it, which is very exciting, but it's an interesting thing, going through something so physically dominating while also having so many people pay attention to the choices you make, the things you say, what you do, what you look like," Woodley said. "It spun me out for a while. You feel so incredibly isolated and alone." She added, "Unless someone can see that you have a broken arm or a broken leg, it's really difficult for people to relate to the pain that you're experiencing when it's a silent, quiet and invisible pain."

Woodley also shared that the frightening health struggle also made her more aware of the world around her, such as "the incredibly difficult life task of not caring what people think about you." She explained, "The more I paid attention to the noise that was surrounding me, the longer it was taking my body and my mind to heal. Because I wasn't focused on myself, I was focused on an image of myself via the lens of everyone around us."

Notably, Woodley first spoke about her condition back in 2020, during an interview with The New York Times. "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 shared. "While I was doing the Divergent movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation."


The Descendants star went on to add that many of the roles she had to turn down ended up going to other young stars who have since found a lot of "success" from the castings. "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. They went on to a lot of success."