→ I fell into this business by accident. It wasn’t something I ever aspired to be: an actress. It just happened. It has evolved into an insane passion…a creative outlet. But nothing more. It’s my hobby… one of the ways I express myself as an artist. And the day it becomes a job… a career… I will quit.
→ Don’t start acting because it is the cool thing to do or because you want to be famous. Start acting if you feel that is what’s right for you. Start acting if you believe in your heart that you are a good actor. You also need to be dedicated, otherwise you won’t get anywhere.
→ All it takes is to pick up that one piece of trash you pass everyday on your way to work. Or to turn the water faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth from afar. Or to compost. Or to buy 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Or to utilize vintage stores and secondhand markets. Or to fully devote yourself to only buying vegetables from local sources. It is remarkably easy to incorporate sustainable choices into our everyday, busy lives.
→ I don’t have a plan. I’m not strategizing my next move until a movie comes along that really fuels my soul.
→ I was an environmentalist in high school – or, I guess, a self-proclaimed environmentalist – and I started reading about the food system in America and how it’s owned by all of these corporations. I was on a quest to find out what healthy really meant because people were saying that veganism was healthy or that the Paleo diet was healthy, but I really had no idea. So I started researching indigenous people and what their lifestyles were like because I was fascinated by the fact that they could still run in their eighties and still had amazing muscular and nervous systems, whereas in America now, by the time we get to our thirties, it’s really hard for us to lose weight and maintain a healthy body and composition. So I just started adapting my lifestyle to that of indigenous people, and what I realized is that we’re all indigenous creatures on this planet. The whole concept of re-wilding came about through some really good friends of mine, and it’s basically about adapting to your current situation. If you’re in the city, then you can’t go back to hunter-and-gatherer times, so you have to adapt to the lifestyle that’s out there. Herbalism is part of that, and knowing how to heal our bodies naturally and knowing about organic farming. It’s so important and essential to the Earth, to Gaia. We want to continue to live on this planet, and I think we need to break down the associations that we have that we’re different from nature – that we need to protect the Earth and save the Earth – when we are, in fact, part of the Earth. So it all starts with us. If we want to save the planet, then I think we need to start saving ourselves in order to do that. I believe that organic farming, among many other practices, can really start that shift.
→ What I found with The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2008) was that it was hard to talk about some of the issues because I didn’t believe in them, and on a personal level, I was not in agreement with the things that we were preaching.
→ [On Natalie Portman, James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt] I think as human beings and artists, they are three of the most incredible people in this industry. I would love to meet them under the right circumstance so I could tell them how great they all are.
→ I don’t buy meat from Whole Foods, I order it direct from a farm. I mean, I’m like extremist.
→ I had never been to Hawaii before, and the second I landed there I was like, this is home, this is me. My body’s from L.A., but my heart is from Hawaii. I’ve been there so many times since filming and established such phenomenal friends there, and the islands have this incredible energy that’s not really tangible.
→ I think everyone has a pain and a bitch in them. I don’t often use that side of myself because I really don’t have reason to, but the reason I don’t get bummed when I don’t book a role is because every character is written for a certain person, and you never know who that person is until they show up.
→ In my free time, I almost exclusively wear casual clothes like jeans and t-shirts: anything comfortable and no couture. It’d be impossible to climb trees wearing heels and evening gowns!
→ [On being recognized at school] Every now and then a freshman would yell ‘Amy’ across the quad, but someone would yell back ‘Shut up, freshman.
→ I was never very rebellious. I never did things to rebel against society, or against my parents, but I did think I knew everything. I thought I knew it all and had it all figured out, and that was it. Then, one day, I woke up and realized I was a dot in this universe, and that quickly dissipated.
→ [On the actresses she admires (March 2014)] Oh man, I know I just worked with her [in Divergent (2014)], but I really admire Kate Winslet. I admire her career. I admire Marion Cotillard and Mélanie Laurent.
→ Freshman year, upperclassmen would call me ‘anorexic’, so I’d go home and cry, wishing hard for the curves to appear.
→ I’ve realized that worry is the product of a future that we cannot guarantee, and guilt is the product of a past we cannot change. Once that clicked in, it became easier to live this lighter life. And the happier I am, the healthier I am and the better I look and feel.
→ My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us, because we don’t seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy. It’s just so silly and heartbreaking in a way.
→ I think souls know no age. The only thing that knows age is the mind, and the minute you leave that behind some people have chemical connections and some people don’t. Love isn’t limited to marriage and sex and whatnot. Teenagers who fall in love – their love is just as real, just as visceral and just as worthy as that of adults who fall in love.
→ [On her positive reaction to the script for The Fault in Our Stars (2014)] I always know intuitively whether a script is something I fall in love with or not. I get butterflies. If I get butterflies, it’s something I’ll fight for.
→ [On where she sees herself in 10 years] I’d like to be living somewhere in the middle of the woods, flying to L.A. when I need to, and balancing my lifestyle of living in stride with the Earth as well as being in this industry. I think there are ways to bridge gaps between my two worlds: My wild, muddy-all-the-time, no-makeup, no-shoes world, and this world, which is high heels and fancy clothes.
→ I think it’s ridiculous that the boundaries have been crossed between cinema and fashion. They’re both their own separate art forms. I did not start acting in order to wear something beautiful and wear lots of makeup. That’s not why I do this. I do this because I really love being on a film set.
→ [When asked about her feeling on being compared with Jennifer Lawrence.] Well, comparisons always lead to despair. As women, we are constantly told that we need to compare ourselves to a girl in school, to our co-workers, to the images in a magazine. How is the world going to advance if we’re always comparing ourselves to others? I admire Jennifer Lawrence, but she’s everyone’s favorite person to compare me to. Is it because we both have short hair and a vagina? I see us as separate individuals. And that’s important. As women, our insecurities are based on all these comparisons. And that creates distress.
→ [Interview for Toda Teen, March 2014] I would love to do comedy, but nothing too silly. Something like Little Miss Sunshine (2006) or another movie by Alexander Payne. I’d love that someone could redo rom-coms exactly like those from the 80s and 90s, like Dirty Dancing (1987) or Notting Hill (1999), movies that they don’t do anymore. Movies today are too big, female characters are idiots and the male characters are rich, it’s so difficult to identify with these films.
→ Actors I like? I love Mark Ruffalo and Marion Cotillard. For me she is the best actress alive.
→ I’m not one of those actors who feels like they need to get in character, to do any sort of method acting situations. For me it’s all about learning my lines, showing up on time, and professionally listening to what others are saying, and then authentically and truthfully reacting off of their expressions. So, it’s easy to drop roles, because I don’t feel like I acquire them to begin with.
→ I just find the whole f word, this whole ‘fan’ word, so completely fascinating. I think it’s one thing to be a fan of a particular movie-growing up, I was a huge fan of The Goonies and certain bands or musicians. [But] I look back at my favorite childhood films, and I don’t remember being obsessed, or necessarily being a fan of a particular actor. I was excited to see what they were going to do next, but… Now I feel like there’s this odd sort of obsession with certain people. So, for me, I try to separate myself from my project; and I hope that people support that project. But when people are solely supporting me, it feels odd; it’s something that I haven’t quite gotten used to and I don’t think I ever will.
→ I think people in this industry make it harder on themselves than they need to. It’s easy to be happy. It’s easier to be happy than to not be.
→ I think everything about my lifestyle is fairly alternative. I gather my own spring water from mountains every month. I go to a farm to get my food. I make everything from my own toothpaste to my own body lotions and face oils. I could go on for hours. I make my own medicines; I don’t get those from doctors. I make my own cheese and forage wild foods and identify wild plants. It’s an entire lifestyle. It’s appealing to my soul.
→ [On criticism of her Valentino Couture Oscars dress] A lot of people didn’t like it. They were like, ‘She’s 20, she’s covering herself up, why is she doing that?’ But to me it felt classy and elegant and that’s what I think of when I think of the Oscars. It felt simple and elegant and it still represented who I am. Most of my clothes come through friends – this cardigan is two years old and these jeans are my friend’s boyfriend’s.
→ My mother was a school counselor, and my father was a high school principal. I grew up with not, ‘Go say you’re sorry.’ It was, ‘How does that make you feel?’ or ‘If you were in his shoes, how do you think that would make him feel?’ It was all very cerebral, and there was a lot of analyzing, a lot of breaking down situations from a place of compassion and empathy. I think that made me who I am today.
→ Everyone says to me, ‘What does it feel like to be part of the Hollywood life now?’ And I want to say, ‘It’s fabricated.’ None of it’s real. We all go to these events. We put on makeup and clothes that aren’t ours. We give them back at the end of the night, and then we go home and burp the same garlic burps as everyone else. You still have to do your laundry, and your dishes are everywhere. It’s just life.
→ [On losing the role ‘Lucy’ in I Am Sam (2001) to Dakota Fanning] My father looked at me and said, ‘You need to send that Dakota girl so much love and so much happiness because this is the best day in her life. One day, you’re gonna have a best day in your life, and you’re not gonna want people to be angry at you for doing something that they wanted to do.
→ One of my goals in life is to start a giant organic, biodynamic farm, and have it run like a community, but sell the produce for less than conventional prices.
→ When you’re on a film set, you’re not thinking about what other people are going to think – you’re not thinking about magazines, you’re not thinking about interviews, and you’re definitely not thinking about Oscars. At least for me. I’m just thinking about how grateful I am to be on the set and to work with such phenomenal people and to have the opportunity.
→ [On what she thought about teenagers] For so long they were-and still are-depicted in movies and TV shows as codependent whiners or rich, beautiful, diamond-clad daughters or dumb cheerleader types. But teenagers are so smart. I was probably smarter as a 16-year-old than I am today. There is a zest for life that you have at that age that is so beautiful.
→ I always say that I’ll never win a physical battle, but I can always win a mental battle. I mean, not really, because I never really argue with anyone.
→ [On George Clooney] He’s such a phenomenal superhuman, and I know it probably sounds weird, but he’s one of the greatest men. He has so much to offer, not only in his performances, but as a human being. He’s so generous and humble and passionate and grateful and appreciative and brilliant, and I just think the world of him. Every time I see him, I’m constantly absorbing and soaking in new information; just learning more about life and how to be a better human being because of him. I think gratitude is a big thing that a lot of people lose sight of and that man, he fully encompasses it.
→ [On Alexander Payne] On a personal level, he’s one of my top five favorite human beings. He’s just such a dynamite man. Being on set with him, he makes you feel so comfortable and he gives you the freedom to do whatever you want within his unspoken words and guidelines. And that’s a beautiful thing for an actor. That’s why everyone wants to work with him because he does give you the freedom that a lot of movie sets don’t allow.
→ Everyone today is like, ‘Shailene, you’re getting so much buzz. How does the feel?’ It’s the most odd question because it’s like asking a kid who got into Cornell how it feels to be the top of your class at one of the Ivy League schools. How do you answer that? You just go, ‘I don’t know.’ I used to say that this is just the maraschino cherry on top, but decided maraschino cherries are awful. So I’m going to start now preaching the Bing cherry on top.
→ The thing with privacy is I’m just going to make sure that whatever I hold sacred stays sacred. What I hold dear to my heart is nobody’s business in the same way whatever you hold dear to your heart is nobody’s business, unless you’re willing to share that.
→ [On her fears] I’m one of those people that sort of gets off on fear-like heights and stuff. I enjoy things that make my adrenaline run. But mine would probably be being in a submarine submerged thousands of feet underwater, or being in space. Those two things are fucked up. No way.
→ My whole life I’ve been so self-conscious about being skinny. And just recently I don’t care anymore. All insecurities are projected because of what you think others are saying about you, but they don’t really matter at all. My only real insecurities in high school were having such long legs and thick hair-things I’m so very grateful for now.
→ Some people have crooked teeth, some people have broken fingers, and I’ve got a back that has my initial on it.
→ [On supporting Native Americans’ rights] Whatever your cause is. Whatever your passion is. Whatever you care about most, none of your efforts or hard-earned opinions will matter when the planet and the people you’re fighting for have nothing left to show for it. Will you choose money, or will you choose children? Will you choose ignorance, or will you choose love? Will you choose blindness, or will you choose freedom?
→ [On being arrested for criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot following her participation in the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline] I am not scared. I am not afraid. I am grateful, and I am amazed to be standing by the sides of so many peaceful warriors,” she concluded, simply feeding off the hype of a celebrity’s arrest ain’t going to save the world. But, standing together will.
→ Nothing really attracts me to this industry, to be perfectly honest. I look at acting as an art, and that’s all it is for me. It’s just fun. I’ve been doing it since I was young because I wanted to, not because my parents wanted me to.
→ Every teenager has their own path and I guess issues are relative, because your issue is what you make it out to be and what you know, what your range of consciousness allows.
→ [On her favorite artists] Lana del Rey—I think she’s amazing. Foster the People is pretty great. And Bon Iver—I know his music is really slow, but for some reason it’s inspiring. He makes me want to keep going when I’m working out.
→ I’ve taken acting classes my whole life, and I always say I’ve never learned anything about acting in acting classes, but I’ve learned more about myself than I could ever imagine.
→ I love the art of acting, but I couldn’t care less about film really, or the materialistic side of the industry, money or fame – I just love being on a film set.
→ People seemed surprised that I didn’t find going from TV to film difficult, but I just saw it as an opportunity to try something different – regardless what medium, it’s still acting. It was an easy transition, like going from middle school to high school.