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Shailene Woodley's forsaking her young fans for dark HBO show

Carrie Nelson is a writer and filmmaker based in NYC. Her bylines appear on websites including The Daily Dot, New York Observer, Bitch Media, and The New Civil Rights Movement, and she was a founding editor of the global feminist blog Ge...

Is Shailene Woodley's latest role a calculated career move to attract a more mature audience?

Actress Shailene Woodley owes her career to young adult audiences. Her big break came with ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and she’s exploded on the big screen in movies like Divergent, Insurgent and The Fault in Our Stars. But as the star grows up, her film and television choices are maturing with her.

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This reality became clear on Saturday, when it was announced that Woodley will be joining Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in the HBO adaptation of Big Little Lies. The limited series is based on Liane Moriarty’s novel about a friendship between three mothers whose children attend kindergarten together. Woodley’s participation in the series was confirmed by Kidman during an interview at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

Variety describes Big Little Lies as a “darkly comic drama,” and with themes of bullying, intimate partner violence and murder, it is a major departure from the teen melodrama and adventure stories that have built much of Woodley’s career. Though some fans might be worried that the actress is leaving her base behind, fear not: She is still slated to star in Allegiant, the third film in The Divergent Series, which is scheduled to hit theaters next March.

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However, it’s important to note that Big Little Lies is not a one-off choice for Woodley. In fact, it appears to be part of a larger career shift for her; next spring, she will costar opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Oliver Stone’s film Snowden, playing Lindsay Mills, Edward Snowden’s girlfriend. Woodley appears to be cultivating her career in a similar vein as Jennifer Lawrence’s, with a healthy balance of teen romances and big-budget franchises alongside character dramas and dark, adult stories.

Woodley keeps her social media presence to a minimum, so she has yet to share her own news and updates about her involvement in Big Little Lies. Curious fans should keep their eyes on her Twitter profile, however — production on the series starts in January, so she might be sharing more at that time. And while a specific premiere date has yet to be set, viewers should expect to see Big Little Lies showing up on HBO later in 2016.

More: 8 Profound quotes from Divergent's Shailene Woodley

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