Shailene Woodley had a pretty unique upbringing.
Raised by her counselor-mother and psychologist-father, the 24-year-old actress grew up in a progressive environment – but that wasn’t always a good thing.
But don’t be mistaken – Woodley is thankful for how she was raised, and has a strong relationship with her parents.
“They are my everything,” she explained. “They would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them. That’s a lot more than most people can say about their families. I’m grateful for the s— that happened.”
While she didn’t get too deep into her family’s history, Woodley did give some examples of “the s— that happened.”
When she and her younger brother Tanner would argue, for example, her parents would force them to hug it out for hours – literally. And this wouldn’t happen in private either. They’d have to stand on their front lawn for their neighbors to see.
“The whole time you’re just seething, you’re disliking this person with so much energy, but if you let go you have to stay there for an extra hour,” she said. “That was the kind of reverse, manipulative psychology my parents were into!”
It was even harder when Woodley was teased at school.
“It would hurt my feelings, and my parents weren’t on my side. They would be like, ‘I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way, but what do you think that person was feeling?’ Oh, I hated it,” she detailed.
Now, Woodley says she understands what her parents were doing.
“It’s enabled me to recognize that no one’s evil,” she confessed. “They’re probably hurting and can’t express themselves, get no love at home, so it’s repeated. It gave me a broader outlook: just put yourself in another person’s shoes.”
It’s part of the reason why she jumped at the chance to play Edward Snowden‘s misunderstood girlfriend Lindsay Mills in Oliver Stone’s biopic of the NSA whistleblower.
“I think about Lindsay every day, and we wrapped this movie over a year ago,” she said. “Lindsay was a yoga and pole-dance instructor, and [the press] tore her apart [saying]: ‘Edward Snowden’s girlfriend is a stripper.’ She was a fitness coach.”
But that compassion has its downsides – especially when talking about politics.
RELATED VIDEO: Shailene Woodley’s Changing Looks!
A diehard Bernie Sanders supporter, Woodley knows how to step out of herself and view things from another person’s perspective – even if many of her contemporaries don’t.
“I have a hard time having political conversations in Hollywood,” Woodley admitted. “Most people there are so privileged, they don’t see the 99 percent of America, because they don’t have to. It’s hard for people like that to see another perspective.”
It’s just part of the problems the outspoken actress has with Hollywood. “The environment is incredibly unhealthy,” she said. “Women get a little skinnier, a little blonder, their lips get fuller – and it’s not a stereotype. It’s real, and it’s because there’s a mold they’re told they have to fit in order to stay relevant.”
Snowden hits theaters Friday.