Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson Are Out Here to Save Hollywood


Lynn Hirschberg spoke to actresses Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson for this week’s issue of New York magazine, and if her profile is to be believed, these two are going to revolutionize Hollywood for all Woman(or Human)kind.

There is a lot to unpack in Hirschberg’s piece. That’s unsurprising, as she’s known for her, um, interesting takes on various celebrities. While there’s plenty to comment on about Hirschberg here – like her decision to classify Jennifer Lawrence as “the biggest star in the world” or her paranoia that the dinner she cooked for Woodley and Larson wouldn’t be up to their locavore standards – there’s far more to note about Woodley and Larson’s friendship and subsequent thoughts about Women in Hollywood™.

Woodley and Larson met on the set of The Spectacular Now and have what Woodley calls “a primal connection.” They seem to find power from their friendship, using each other to bolster their stance on the bullshit they see around them:

“When Shai and I met each other, it was boom!” Larson said. “We understood each other instantly. We’re the lighthouse for each other: the beam that stays focused and guides you home.” Woodley seconded. “Together,” she said, “we are able to refine our ideas. In the past, we would talk about how people told us that if we wanted ­’success,’ we’d have to dress a certain way, act a certain way. Brie and I always felt different, and, suddenly, when we met, that was okay. In fact, it was great.”

Larson says the two are “both trying all the time to be truthful.” She’s so worried about being surrounded by too many Yes Men that she actively looks for people to reject her in her daily life:

“Lately, I’ve been getting too much attention with the Met Gala and work going so well that I try to find rejection in my day. I’ll seek out someone on the street or at the farmers’ market and ask for something where I know they’ll say no. No one likes rejection, but it’s real. And I don’t want to lose that feeling.”

Hirschberg also reveals an interesting tidbit about a clip of Woodley’s recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon that was cut from broadcast. Woodley was asked how she feels about being compared to Jennifer Lawrence:

Woodley paused. “Well,” she said. “Comparisons always lead to despair.” There was sudden silence, and then the audience, which was shocked and angry, began to boo. Fallon said something like “Whoa,” and Woodley held her ground. “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,” she told me later. “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.”
The audience in Studio 6B wasn’t listening, and neither was Fallon. That section of the interview was cut by the Tonight Show producers: Later that evening, when the show aired, Woodley’s gender politics were erased. “It bothered me, because it’s human nature to feel bad if you are booed by an entire audience,” Woodley said, sounding completely unbothered. “But in these few moments that we have here on Earth, are we going to torture ourselves? Or are we going to allow our lights to be dimmed? How do we expect men to respect women or women to rise to more power when we don’t respect our queendom in the same way that men respect their kingdom?”

[Emphasis added]

There’s a lot of discussion about both of them being purposeful about what they wanted to wear to the Met Ball. Woodley said she wouldn’t go unless Rodarte dressed her, while Larson’s wanted her dress to be inspired by Joan of Arc:

“I wanted to feel safe,” she said. “Too many times, I’ve put on the dress and the heels and tried to be this person that they want me to be, and I can feel myself getting itchy. Photos are taken at these events, and those photos are just another thing for women to compare themselves to and feel put down. I know that I can start going off in my brain about silly things like, Why is Cate Blanchett’s skin so perfect?! And I need to stop myself. So, the Met Ball gown has to be a representation of me. I don’t want to go as someone else’s idea of me—that would be lying.”

Woodley still comes off as far more Earth Mother-y than Larson. According to Hirschberg, she hugs people while she’s doing red carpet events – even reporters. “With every stranger, she embraced the right side of the body and then the left, to give equal time, as she sees it, to both sides of the heart,” Hirschberg writes. That hugging is just a part of who Woodley is – someone who can be zen even when she finds out that her best friend got a part in Room that both of them were up for:

“And I know Brie will be brilliant. She can use this film as a platform to say something important about women and hostility and the courage it takes to speak your mind.” Woodley paused. “Oblivion is inevitable,” she continued. “Making Fault, which is about the constant presence of death, has taught me that. As long as we tell the truth, nothing else matters. And that’s what Brie will do. Hopefully, she’ll change the world.”

There’s not a clear indication of exactly what the two are going to do to “conquer” and “fix” Hollywood specifically. We do learn that they plan to “pick films that are honest and not detrimental to girls” and stay “weird,” while also “playing the game” that is the Hollywood industrial complex. In this world, that’s revolutionary.

Images via Getty

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