Move Over, JLaw

by Anna Klassen

Ever since she was cast in the Divergent trilogy (and possibly before) Shailene Woodley has been compared to Jennifer Lawrence. Both actresses are white, brunette, with short hair-dos and are currently staring in two of the biggest YA franchises to ever exist. They both play strong and independent young woman who save their people from obliterating circumstances. But these are their characters, Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence couldn't be more different.

Shailene Woodley recently addressed the comparison on a press tour for The Fault in Our Stars:

"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. 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."

Her words couldn't be more accurate — yes they are both women of a similar age, but their lifestyles, their images in the press are completely different. While Shailene Woodley talks about gathering her own mountain water and making her own toothpaste, Jennifer Lawrence talks about scarfing down a Big Mac and fries.

Yet to movie goers, both women play two characters of the same coin — Katniss Everdeen and Tris are similar in ideals, looks, and their role as female revolutionaries. But with Woodley's role in The Fault in Our Stars, there should be no more comparison. Bustle got a sneak peak of the film last month, and there is no doubt about it — with Woodley playing Hazel Grace Lancaster, she truly breaks away from the herd.

Woodley portrays the beloved character with utmost honesty, from the moment we see her eyes roll at her parents' outdated comments, a cannula in her nose and her hair chopped short, she is Hazel, and there's no denying it. We've seen Woodley impress us in the past, her breakout role in The Descendants left us wanting more and her role in the indie summer hit The Spectacular Now had us rooting for dorky Amy Finecky. Yet Woodley has never been as convincing, or made our hearts ache as strongly as she did with her Fault performance.

After the screening of the film, Woodley came out to the small press audience to answer questions — and my jaw dropped. Where was her cannula? Why was she wearing makeup and high-heels, what happened to Hazel Grace? The entire audience of soggy-eyed individuals had to snap-to: It was back to real life now. Hazel's just a character in a John Green novel, she's not real. But for a moment, thanks to Woodley's interpretation, she was more than a just a character in an exceptional script.

We saw a similarly striking performance from Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Yet her character had an element of theatricality that exists more on the big screen than it does in real life. Woodley's Hazel was the girl we knew growing up, our best friend, our sister and ourself. It is in this performance that audiences will truly understand why casting directors are scrambling to cast her (she was offered the part of Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades of Grey, after all).

See The Fault in Our Stars on Friday, June 6, and watch Woodley along side Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff in John Green's heartbreaking adaptation.