The world learned that Shailene Woodley and Aaron Rodgers were engaged in February, as he thanked his “fiancée” while accepting the MVP award at the NFL Honors, but the couple had made the decision to walk down the aisle long before that.
“When we announced that we were engaged, we wanted to do that only because we didn’t want someone else to do it before we did,” Woodley told the Hollywood Reporter for an interview published Friday. “And we didn’t do it for months and months after we had become engaged, but the reaction to it was really a lot, and so we were like, ‘Let’s just politely decline [to talk about the relationship] for a little while and live in our little bubble.'”
Woodley and Rodgers have since revealed that they began dating in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that they got to know each other more quickly than they would have under normal circumstances. She has said that they moved in together immediately, because a long-distance relationship, she in Los Angeles and he in the Wisconsin city where his team, the Green Bay Packers, play — and all the travel that comes with it — just wasn’t possible.
Looking back, the Big Little Lies star finds the timing serendipitous in another way.
“You could travel, but you had masks on,” Woodley said. “There was a sense of anonymity that otherwise I don’t think we would have had. We were really able to get to know one another the way we wanted to get to know one another and not have any noise or chaos around us.”
They were able to spend months just hanging out like any other couple … at least in some ways. There was plenty of “cuddle time,” and they looked after Woodley, the dog they share. But there were also hours devoted to getting Rodgers ready to guest-host Jeopardy! ahead of his shows that aired in April.
Woodley’s back to work now, with several projects in the works. (Her Netflix romance, The Last Letter From Your Lover, comes out July 30.)
But the 29-year-old remembered having to turn things down in the past, because she was struggling with a health condition.
“It was pretty debilitating,” Woodley explained. “I said no to a lot of projects, not because I wanted to but because I physically couldn’t participate in them. And I definitely suffered a lot more than I had to because I didn’t take care of myself. The self-inflicted pressure of not wanting to be helped or taken care of created more physical unrest throughout those years.”
She has previously described herself in her early 20s as “very, very sick” and “struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation.”
Now, she said she is finally on her way to feeling better.
“I’m on the tail end of it, which is very exciting, but it’s an interesting thing, going through something so physically dominating while also having so many people pay attention to the choices you make, the things you say, what you do, what you look like,” Woodley said. “It spun me out for a while. You feel so incredibly isolated and alone. Unless someone can see that you have a broken arm or a broken leg, it’s really difficult for people to relate to the pain that you’re experiencing when it’s a silent, quiet and invisible pain.”
The experience has taught her something important.
“It made me learn the incredibly difficult life task of not caring what people think about you very quickly,” she said. “The more I paid attention to the noise that was surrounding me, the longer it was taking my body and my mind to heal because I wasn’t focused on myself, I was focused on an image of myself via the lens of everyone around us.”