Shailene Woodley 'Honored' to Play Edward Snowden's Girlfriend in Snowden

Shailene Woodley in Snowden
Shailene Woodley in Snowden

Shailene Woodley Honored to Play Edward Snowden’s Girlfriend in Snowden

Three months into filming “Snowden,” Shailene Woodley finally met Edward Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills. “I was like, dang,” Woodley tells Made in Hollywood reporter Julie Harkness Arnold. “I wish I had met her sooner.”

That’s because Woodley plays Mills in the Oliver Stone-directed story of the NSA contractor who leaked classified documents to the media, earning him praise from some as a whistleblower and scorn from others as a traitor. Facing potential charges in the United States, Snowden fled to Russia, where Mills now lives with him part-time.

Portraying a real person posed challenges for Woodley. She says she wanted to please Stone, the producers and the studio. But she also wanted to do right by somebody she describes as a “real-life living human being, who is very much someone I look up to in many ways and was very inspired by.”

“I just felt very honored to portray (Mills),” says Woodley. “I was an actor who pretended to live this life. She is a real human being living in Russia right now, actually living this life, and those are two things that constantly boggle my mind.”

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden, the film dramatizes a story heavily covered in newspaper articles and in Laura Poitras’s acclaimed documentary, “Citizenfour.”

When the documentary won an Academy Award last year, Poitras took the stage with journalist Glenn Greenwald — a key contact for Snowden — and a young woman whom few at first recognized but who later was identified as Mills.

Thrust into the limelight after the Snowden story hit, few people knew much about Mills — or what happened to her after Snowden went to Moscow. It was only when the documentary was released that people saw she had later rejoined Snowden. She’s shown on camera but doesn’t speak, remaining very much an enigma.

Lindsay Mills (right) joines Citizenfour director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald at the 2015 Academy Awards
Lindsay Mills (right) joines Citizenfour director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald at the 2015 Academy Awards

Shailene Woodley Says Snowden Fills in Critical Gaps in the Widely Reported Story

Woodley says “Snowden” fills in some of the gaps about Snowden, Mills and their relationship.

“What fascinates me about this movie is that we learn why he chose to do what he did, as a 29-year-old individual, why he was willing to sacrifice his love of 10 years — which is the character I play — why he was willing to sacrifice his family, his job, his home, his security, his stability,” the actress says. “And it’s because he’s a true patriot. It was because he wanted to honor his country and empower people like you and I. But this is the side of the narrative that we’ve never heard before.”

Woodley says the movie also speaks to larger issues about government reach into people’s private lives — revelations that came out of the documents leaked by Snowden.

“Privacy is something I think we all think we own and think we inherently have just as a human right, and in 2016 the truth of the matter is privacy is not a human right anymore,” she says. “It’s a privilege you can only be privileged to if you’re empowered enough to know that it’s not a human right anymore. And that’s something that I think a lot of us don’t think about.”