“It was hard to film because I was going through the darkest, hardest time in my life,” the Big Little Lies alum, 31, recalled in her PORTER magazine cover story, published on Monday, January 23. “It was winter in New York, and my personal life was s–tty, so it felt like a big pain bubble for eight months.”
The show — based on Lisa Taddeo‘s book of the same name — wrapped filming in May 2022 after kicking off production the previous fall. While Woodley didn’t specify what contributed to her “pain,” Us Weekly confirmed her split from fiancé Aaron Rodgers in February 2022.
“I was so grateful that at least I could go to work and cry and process my emotions through my character,” the Divergent actress told the outlet, noting that she “found a lot of comfort and inspiration” in collaborating with Taddeo, who wrote and executive produced the upcoming Showtime series.
Woodley tapped into her emotions in a new way during filming and spoke candidly about her self-care journey both on and off set. “I’ve always loved getting older, but it’s almost like I feel an exhale,” she explained. “I’ve been waiting so long to experience not giving a f–k about what other people think about me and my life and the choices I make.”
The California native added: “I’m so excited to continue letting go of so many of the things that controlled me in my twenties; to really experience the joy of life in a way that, when you’re younger, is more difficult to experience – because it’s controlled by the way you were raised instead of the identity that you create as your own person.”
The Golden Globe nominee and Rodgers, 39, were first linked in July 2020 after his split from Danica Patrick. Us confirmed the following February that Woodley and Rodgers were dating, shortly before the quarterback referred to her as his “fiancée” during his NFL Honors acceptance speech. The Spectacular Now addressed the duo’s status on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that month, showing off her engagement ring.
Two months later, a source exclusively told Us what made Rodgers and Woodley such a “great match” — despite their apparent differences. “They’re both hardworking, career-focused, have a similar lifestyle and are down to earth,” the insider said in April 2021. “People think of Aaron as this tough football player, but he actually has a soft side to him and can be goofy and nerdy.”
By the following year, however, the twosome pulled the plug on their whirlwind romance. “Shailene has been super busy with work,” a source told Us in February 2022. “Everything was so different during lockdown, and they had been living in their bubble.”
The exes sparked reconciliation rumors soon after their breakup made headlines when they were spotted attending a wedding together in March 2022. An insider informed Us three months later that Woodley and the Green Bay Packers athlete had been “on and off” but were “over for good,” adding that they “just didn’t work out as a couple.”
Both the Secret Life of the American Teenager alum and her former fiancé have remained relatively tight-lipped about what caused their split. In February 2022, Rodgers praised his ex for the impact she made on his life.
“Here’s some… #MondayNightGratitude for some of the incredibly special people in my life, with some pictures from the last beautiful year,” he captioned an Instagram post. “@shailenewoodley, thanks for letting me chase after you the first couple months after we met, and finally letting me catch up to you and be a part of your life. Thanks for always having my back, for the incredible kindness you show me and everyone you meet, and for showing me what unconditional love looks like, I love you and am grateful for you.”