The Descendants was her official coming-out party. Rewatch Alexander Payne’s drama and you’ll see: The thing doesn’t really start until she shows up, 20 minutes in. As George Clooney’s older daughter, a rebellious brat who seems thoroughly detached from the fact that her mother has been in a coma for weeks, Woodley swiftly makes us forget she’d ever been the star of an ABC Family show - The Secret Life of an American Teenager, which ran for five seasons - and she does it with exactly one scene. While she’s in the pool, Clooney announces that her mother isn’t expected to wake. Woodley sinks to the bottom; the camera catches her muffled, heartbreaking cry. It’s torturous and ferocious, and when she emerges, she basically slaps her father in the face. “Why did you have to tell me in the god-damn pool?” The line says everything - about fathers and daughters, about the pain of growing up - and it’s all in Woodley’s delivery. Of her director, she says, “Alexander came to me one day and he said, 'You're not being you. Be Shai.' And I knew exactly what he meant. He could tell when I was acting and when I was just being a professional listener.”
The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.