Shailene Woodley on acting: It just pulls at me, it's a passion


You can sense Shailene Woodley's candor and warmth almost the moment you meet her. For one, she's a hugger more than a hand shaker.

"I feel like it's an instant way to sort of just break down walls and be like, 'I'm real. You're real. Let's real it up,'" Woodley said to "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell.

Woodley is a young actress who's left a distinctive mark on Hollywood's classic coming-of-age role.

In a few short years she's managed to take all the awkward elements like teen angst, self doubt and a lot of hormones and combine them into layered roles that are strikingly raw and sincere.

And her award-winning performance in this year's "The Fault in Our Stars" is no exception. Her portrayal of a terminally ill teenager falling in love is both uplifting, yet heartbreaking at the same time.

Woodley said she thinks the film was a breakout movie because it's real and relatable.

"It deals with things that we all deal with on a daily basis whether it's first love, and it's not just relatable for teenagers, it's relatable for all demographics," she said. "Because everybody's fallen in love at least once ... and they remember their first time. And as teenagers if they haven't fallen in love yet they're anticipating what that's going to be like. It deals with death. It deals with cancer, which I think in this day and age everybody knows somebody or has a cancer story. It deals with mother and daughter. Just every aspect of it is relatable."

Although only 22 years old, Woodley has been a working actress since she was just 5 years old. She landed her first feature in 2011 where she held her own alongside George Clooney in "The Descendants."

After her role in "The Descendents," things changed a lot, she said.

"I guess kind of a lot, kind of not really. I had more access I think to certain projects," Woodley said. "I didn't work on another movie for three years after 'The Descendants' because I hadn't read anything that really, I guess inspired me."

She even thought about abandoning the movie business altogether.

"'The Descendants' was the first movie that I interacted with people who had seen it. And things that I'd done in the past I did them and then never really spoke about them with others, with strangers," Woodley said. "And after 'The Descendants' I all of a sudden had people saying, 'I can't wait to see what you did next. And we're so happy that you were in this film.' And that was really weird to me because for the first time in 13 years of being an actor I felt like there was a certain pressure to appease the opinions that others had of me. And then after a few months I was like, 'Oh, pff, I'm not acting for them. I'm acting for me.'"

So two years ago, Woodley took a break from her indie roots and signed on to play the lead role in the big-budget sci-fi series, "Divergent."

"But when you strip away the green screen and the action sequences and the loud music and the score, you're left with a young woman whose trying to figure out who she is who loses her parents who is falling in love for the first time, who is debating which path she wants to take in life," Woodley said. "So it's really-- it's very similar to what we've been talking about just with added elements on top of it."

She said she wouldn't want to live without acting.

"You know, no matter how many times I'm like, 'Oh, well, maybe I'll try something else for a while or maybe I'll come back to acting in a few years,' it just -- it pulls at me. It's a passion."