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Marcia Gay Harden on Shailene Woodley in ‘The Descendants’

SAG Preview 2011: Actors on Actors

“In 2005 I had the great honor of playing Shailene Woodley’s mother in ‘Felicity: An American Girl Adventure.’ I was immediately impressed by her work ethic, both on and off set. Here was a young girl flawlessly embodying a Colonial era, minuet-dancing, horseback riding rebel. Even then, she was working with a depth and caliber that separated her from so many other child actors. Indeed, she was an inspiration to all her cast.

Not surprisingly, watching Shailene navigate the turbulent waters of ‘The Descendants’ was again riveting. She is tasked with being at once emotionally vulnerable and raw, and yet somehow guarded and cynical in all the same moment. Shailene is inspirational, refusing to fall back on cliche or vanity, but delighting us with her honest anger, her unexpected humor, and her shatteringly raw breakdown. She doesn’t ask us to like her, but in revealing the truth of her abandonment and her disappointment with her mother, she allows us to identify with all of our daughters, and to yank at our hearts as we watch them grow up. Shailene, as one of your many moms, thank you for teaching me valuable lessons as I watch you grow up.”

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