The Descendants interview

Alex Williams

A year ago, Shailene Woodley was probably best known for her prominent role on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” However, her wonderful performance as George Clooney’s spunky, brutally honest daughter in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” promises to redirect the 20-year-old actress’ career path.

The Daily Texan sat down with Woodley earlier this month.

DT: Tell me about Payne’s directorial style.
Woodley: On a personal level, Alexander is one of my top five favorite human beings. He’s just such a … I will come to tears talking too much about him because I just think the world of him. As far as a director goes, he’s very low key and he has a very strong point of view when it comes to his films, which is rare for a director to have. His style is very … He doesn’t want us to act when he casts us, he just goes, “Be you. That’s all I want. Just you, within the rules and restrictions of this character.”

DT: How would you compare working in television and film?
Woodley: There’s a giant difference. Television, we do like eight scenes a day, so it’s boom, boom, boom. You have very little creativity involved, time is of the essence, money is of the essence and you just have to get the job done, Film is very different in that you only have one scene to do a day, if that. Sometimes half a scene. So you get so much time to really go deep and figure out the different layers of character and story and explore. It’s like being on a playground — you can try the slide for a minute and then the swings for a second.

DT: Tell me about working with George Clooney.
Woodley: George is such a humble, down-to-earth professional, a phenomenal man on this planet, that there was no intimidation factor. George, Nick Krause and I went to Hawaii three weeks prior to filming to kind of get to know the vibe of Hawaii and get to know each other and Alexander. It was awesome! We went on mini-field trips around the island to kind of get to know the places that our characters grew up and the vibe of the culture. George, I mean, the second you meet him, you kind of forget that he’s George Clooney, “superstar,” he just becomes George Clooney from Kentucky with a heart of gold. He’s such an amazing, comfortable guy to be around that there’s no intimidation factor, and it was kind of an organic bonding process. It was three people getting to know each other.

Printed on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 as: Woodley shares her silver screen experience