Insurgent star Shailene Woodley rebels against Hollywood lifestyle
It's the press junket for The Divergent Series: Insurgent at the Four Seasons Hotel and leading lady Shailene Woodley walks into the room looking absolutely radiant and beautiful despite wearing no make-up.
She's not dolled up the way other actresses tend to be for promotional events like these.
Instead, she has styled her grown-out pixie crop into a short ponytail and is wearing a black maxi dress with what looks like a faux leather jacket (given that the 23-year-old California native has been pretty vocal about her nature-centric lifestyle).
Since landing the lead role of Tris Prior in the young adult novel-turned-blockbuster hit Divergent last year, Woodley has been in the news, not for any wild, partying antics, but for her alternative lifestyle, like making her own toothpaste, body lotions and face oils.
And that's what makes her so, well, divergent in real life.
She's unlike other starlets her age and doesn't care about the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
"I'm trying to figure out what this concept of 'Hollywood' actually means," she told M.
"Someone can say that I'm a part of it but I'm like, 'Where is it?' I think it all depends on choices you make and what your interests are."
Despite having lived around Hollywood and appearing in small television roles since she was about 10, Woodley has stayed grounded throughout her success.
"I don't find it to be crazy, to be completely honest with you. I mean, like this is the craziest it ever gets for me.
"You come to work and have to answer a bunch of questions about yourself and the project that you're passionate about. Then you go home and take your clothes off and wash your make-up off and chill with your best friends."
When it was time to become Tris again for this sequel, she admitted it was actually more difficult than she had anticipated.
Opening here tomorrow, Insurgent sees Tris and boyfriend Four (Theo James) on the run after evading a hostile takeover by Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her powerful alliance. The faction system in post-apocalyptic Chicago is crumbling, and everyone is desperate for power - and answers.
"Jumping back into Tris' shoes was hard, simply because I had assumed I would pick up where I left off. But what I hadn't taken into account was obviously that I, as Shailene, progressed a year in my own personal evolution," she explained.
"So I had to regress through all of that in order to pick up where Tris left off. But once we started filming, it started kicking in."
Reuniting with the cast from the first movie as well as with others from separate film projects (The Fault In Our Stars with Ansel Elgort and The Spectacular Now opposite Miles Teller), the vibe on the Insurgent set was familial.
"The lovely thing about working with people that you've worked with before - granted that you enjoyed that experience and get along - is that you have an ease and certain (comfort level) with them. You know the way each person works so you can help aid them in their craft and they aid you in your craft.
"But it's also great to have fresh faces too, with Naomi (Watts) and Octavia (Spencer), such amazing actresses who are well known throughout the world."
But you can't keep the indie girl in Woodley down.
"I think it would be fun to do a darker independent film again. I really loved doing (2014's) White Bird In A Blizzard. It was fun to do something different like that, which was grittier and darker."
She'll next take on the female lead in Oliver Stone's Snowden opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The movie tells the real-life story of American computer specialist Edward Snowden, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency who leaked classified information about US surveillance programmes to the mainstream media in 2013.
"It's exciting to be a part of something that's political and so current and the crazy thing about this is that Snowden is still alive and in Russia.
"Most of the time, you have a political movie that's based on an event where you have a solution. We don't know what's going to happen here."
As Woodley continues to grow as an actress and evolve as a woman, a career behind the scenes may even be on the cards.
"I'd love to be a director one day, I really would. I think that there's something really beautiful about storytelling from that perspective, so that's something that's on my mind."
Get ready for more from this heart-throb
RISING STAR: Actor Theo James at the premiere of "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" in New York on March 16. PHOTO: AFP
The remarkably handsome Brit actor Theo James is back, once again, to steal the hearts of girls in The Divergent Series: Insurgent.
He's settled nicely into Tobias "Four" Eaton's shoes and is excited for audiences to get to know his character a bit deeper than what 2014's Divergent allowed, especially with a larger budget and fleshier backstory.
"In the first movie, he's cool and aloof and you discover him slowly and figure out where he stands by the end of the film," he said in a separate interview with M.
"In this film, you really figure out who he is and the relationship is much clearer with him and Tris. And then you get to consummate it with a hardcore sex scene, which they cut half off and is annoying," he said, laughing.
Even though Divergent was a huge success and helped place him on the Hollywood radar, life hasn't changed that much for the 30-year-old.
"It's funny, I didn't feel like anything happened instantly. I think for some people it happens differently. It wasn't like one day I went into a bar and someone said, 'who the **** are you, loser? Get out' and then the second day I was getting free shots and high fives. It's been a relatively slow process. And because I'm living in London, I can work and go home and switch off a bit."
With no temptation to move to Hollywood (except for the sunnier weather, he joked), James said he has the best of both worlds working in Hollywood and living in the UK, where he's surrounded with friends for support.
Come May, James and the rest of his The Divergent Series co-stars will return to work on the third instalment, Allegiant.
But because of his busy schedule, he's limited in the kind of roles he chooses.
"I look for something small every time now; more indie movies because you get a brief period between (The Divergent Series) and you can do a couple of small movies. In a way, I'm kind of hoping that I'm satisfying that larger-scale, fun, epic, spectacle-type movie (side of me) and then on the other hand, I get to go back to mucking it out and working with writers and directors on a smaller scale."
Later this year, James will be seen in two upcoming films - the mystery thriller London Fields, alongside Johnny Depp and Billy Bob Thornton; and the indie Franny, with Richard Gere and Dakota Fanning.
He has also just finished the drama The Secret Scripture, where he plays an Irish priest alongside Rooney Mara.
With more movies on the horizon, James' fame and heart-throb status will only heighten, and it is something which he is still dealing with as a rising actor.
"It's not like it's something you're directly exposed to in all honesty. You go to a premiere and go through those motions, but it never feels real in that way. It's sometimes a bit overwhelming, but it's part of your job."
- Kristie Bertucci
Actresses who chopped off their long hair for movie roles:
SHAILENE WOODLEY (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, 2014 & INSURGENT, 2015)
VANESSA HUDGENS (GIMME SHELTER, 2013)
ANNE HATHAWAY (LES MISERABLES, 2012)
SIENNA MILLER (FACTORY GIRL, 2006)
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY (DOMINO, 2005)
HILLARY SWANK (BOYS DON'T CRY, 1999)
GWYNETH PALTROW (SLIDING DOORS, 1998)