Divergent hits theaters this Friday on March 21st, 2013. We were allowed to see a screening for Divergent on Monday, March 17th in Thousand Oaks, California. We were shown the film as part of a fundraiser for All It Takes. An organization that is dedicated to creating leaders out of youth. It seems like a great cause and the results really seem to speak for themselves. They help teach youngsters about being themselves and confident. You can learn more about the charity at AllItTakes.org.
Since the movie has not yet been released, I will just say that it was very well done. Go see it. I was concerned that it could get a little on the gruesome side. But the changes required to get the run-time to a reasonable amount help cut the more graphic scenes from the film. That includes Edward getting stabbed in the eye (it was cut) if you’ve read the book.
After the movie completed, the audience was allowed to ask questions addressed to: Shailene Woodley, Amy Newbold, Jai Courtney, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen and Veronica Roth. I will summarize the questions and answers below:
“If you could create a faction based on any quality, what would it be?”
Oh, such a deep one right off the bat … this isn’t a quality necessarily, but maybe gifts. The factions are lacking music, right? … there’s no musician faction. [here the crowd and Veronica start to disagree] So, I mean Amnity, but in the book, yes it’s true, in the movie, it depends I guess, we gotta discern whether we’re doing questions for the book or the movie. But, I would probably do music. Where it’s just all music, you go in and you’re like “woah, there’s like Goth music happening over there and there’s rock situations and ooh, we’re going to dance”, like a big music festival.
“Who is the biggest prankster on the set?”
Um, the biggest prankster on the set was Ben Lloyd-Hughes … but a couple people got him back really really well … if you don’t mind I’ll share a quick story. Um, Miles Teller, who is not here … arranged some balloons and a very nice card addressed to Ben, from one Veronica Roth explaining how much she loved his character and would like to talk about working together in the future. Ben got very excited, there was a phone number at the bottom of the card, which was of course my phone number. There was then a series of texts exchanged over a couple of days arranging a meeting to talk about a spinoff for Will. Until it reached a point where it had kind of gone too far, Ben got a bit suspect and … Zoe Kravitz actually really outed everyone … he then called the number while we were all sitting together and of course my pocket rang … And there’s a spinoff for Will in the works, so everyone’s a winner. (Veronica Roth shakes her head no dramatically).
“Do you feel like you were able to give the director insight”
Do I feel like I was able to give the director, Neil Berger insight, given that I know all “the things”. Umm, yes actually … occasionally I would get an email from an assistant on set, “Can you talk to Neil in ten minutes?” I would answer some questions about was really important that it be cheese or a knife, or if it could be meat instead … I was like, “yeah meat go for it.” … Yeah I talked to him a lot. For many hours at a time … a lot of the conflicts in the script between the book and the script actually came from future installments in the series. So you know there would be something setup in the script that could really cause a problem for potential future installments if we’re fortunate enough to make them. So I wanted to make sure that … it was consistent. That I establish the rules in a way that makes sense. So we talked a lot about that. But he really had a lot of respect and love for the books, so it was a really lovely relationship. Neil’s good.
“Is it weird to watch yourself onscreen sometimes and if so, why?”
Yeah, it’s tough because you judge yourself and you’re … your hardest critic or whatever. That’s a tough one, everyone sort of hates watching themselves right? … If you do a bad job, you can learn a lot from it … There was a class I took where they showed you back the audition you did, or the … scene you would be … rehearsing. It was interesting to watch myself for the first time and you just kind of can take a lot of things from it and sort of learn from it in a way.
Regarding the movie being a shortened version of her book:
I’ve been really open minded the whole time, because I know that they’re two different mediums. And that … the book takes you how long to read? It’s 500 pages long so it would never.. unless they made it into a really detailed mini-series would never be able to capture everything. So it was never my concern that they would get everything in. The thing I was most sad about was Uriah. He’s one of my favorite characters, so for him not to be cast is sad for the first movie. But then when I saw it all put together I realized that … it’s a very large cast. And everybody makes the most with the time that they get. But imagine cramming more people into that space, that would be so many people. So ultimately … when something didn’t make it, it was always … like ah, that makes a lot of sense actually. So for me I think I was really well prepared for … changes from the book, because I knew they were inevitable and also the changes that they made were really necessary. So I’m happy with the product. But Uriah was the saddest thing for me I think.
Why did you choose this location instead of Hollywood. (Referring to the theater we were at)
Why did we choose this location instead of Hollywood to show the screening. Partly, I grew up in a town, the town next to Thousand Oaks called Simi Valley … And so this is sort of the area that I grew up going to. My mom actually works in this area and we’ve had a few screenings before at this theater. They’ve been really generous in accommodating to host a few different charity screenings with the different films that I’ve done, so it just it feels right for All It Takes … it’s also really great to come to a normal situation where 22.214.171.124.9% of the world exists. You know Hollywood is sort of this fabricated little community that isn’t really real. That is made to look real in magazines, but then you get there and you’re like, oh wait this isn’t real, this is just like Thousand Oaks except people have a lot more makeup on. So yeah, so it feels right here, it feels comfortable and Muvico has been so generous, so it’s home for All It Takes.
“If you could have any super power for the day what would it be?”
Yikes. Um, well I live in Chicago so right now, I would like teleportation because … I just feel like dealing with my car is a pain and going outside at all right now is … you guys are very luxurious way out here. I stepped off the plane today and I was like, what am I doing with my life in Chicago. It’s so cold there right now, worse than ever. So yeah, right now teleportation and I think maybe even on a regular day I would say teleportation. I would love to be able to just snap and be wherever.
“Have any of you besides Veronica Roth read the books?”
Here’s the honest answer, everyone’s read the book but I think Miles Teller. To this day, he has still not read the book or seen the movie.
Were you able to do any of your own stunts?
All of them.
All of them.
Except for Miles Teller
I think most of the fighting yeah we all did, for the most part, I think there maybe were a couple of things, but Theo for sure did all of his fighting. My fighting. Shailene did the vast majority, like 90%
I did everything except when Theo throws me on the ground over and over again. My stunt double, do you guys remember that movie Avatar? That really bad ass chick in Avatar … she did all of Tris’s stunts the insurance wouldn’t let me do. Like jump from a building and climb the top part of the Ferris Wheel. Anyway, she’s so badass. She’s so… I wanna be her when I grow up, yeah Alicia. We all want to be Alicia when we grow up.
Did anyone ever get really injured on set?
Yeah, I fell off the train, I got a hernia, I got some scars all over my body. But you know what, if you leave an action movie and you’re not a little bit banged up you probably weren’t working hard enough. That’s what Theo always says, I’m like yeah man, let’s keep saying that.
What’s the weirdest thing Shai that you’ve eaten or drank on set?
Oh hey homegirl. Guys those are my high school buddies. The weirdest thing that I eat or drink on set, Oh you guys should answer that question
I don’t know what it is, I just know it was green it always looks like dishwater and it’s always in a jar. Usually no one’s around to share the times, it smells weird. It’s not like a chocolate milkshake.
Tris eats her first hamburger in Dauntless, what is a common food that most people have eaten that you haven’t?
If you could trade roles with one of the other cast members, who would you pick?
So I could be any other character in the film? It’s gotta be Christian Madsen. If it was a character.. I just really think Al has a really good arc. He’s kind of like a gentle giant. And … he’s kind of misunderstood in the film and I think he does a really great job with the character so it made me want to be um… I think he’s a really complex guy and I think it’s told really well.
In Divergent the factions are based on human virtues, which of these virtues does the world need most in your opinion?
Oh no, I created the system because I thought they were all necessary I guess. So it’s hard to answer, but hmmm, selflessness? Yeah, I … used to choose Dauntless, but that’s over because I would die. Just immediately. But uh, Abnegation is always my answer not because I feel like I’m good at it, but because I feel like it’s important. Important for just, change generally. and in life and your ability to be compassionate towards others, which is of course is not represented very well in others because it’s at the cost of like human liberty and self expression, but you know if that weren’t the case, selflessness.
Uh, maybe honesty if everyone was little bit more honest with one another was Candor, so yeah, I think so.
I guess to keep, I’d say intelligence just because if everyone just had a little bit more used their minds a bit more, maybe we’d all work it out.
Yeah I’d probably go with selflessness too, but I think there’s like an important distinction to make … There’s a quote I really like that selflessness is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. I think that’s an important distinction. You can’t have a world be based entirely on people thinking less of themselves because self love, I think, is really important … I think that’s a really good distinction to make. but yes selflessness would be the one I would go with.
Yeah, me too
“What attracted you guys to your roles personally or to Summit [for Veronica]?”
What attracted me to them is that they read it, really. So a lot of times you know it was before the book came out, so we sent out early copies and a lot of times people get pitched the idea and then they think the idea is good and the buzz around it is good and that’s kind of enough for them. But when I talked to the people at Summit, they expressed enough detail about the book and enough enthusiasm they remember crucial parts of this I think they really read it, engaged with it and are serious about making it. So that’s why I chose them.
I think you only get so many chances as an actor to get this sort of breakdown as a character where you look at it sort of a mirror effect and you really relate to him, almost 100%. So I think that for that [I] wanted to jump at the opportunity. In High School I was sort of Al. I didn’t really fit in as well. Kind of got a growth spurt all of a sudden and people thought I was going to go into basketball and I decided I wanted to go onto art class also. I think this sort of shy gentle giant aspect I can relate with a lot and I think just overall when I read the script getting this sort of sense that it was an opportunity that young people are getting to sort of be different, and different is a good thing. They’re getting this choice which a lot of people don’t in life. It’s just some of the things I was like if I could sort of be part of the story that tells this, it would be pretty cool.
Uh, yeah I just really loved how good a person Will was. I was really drawn to the idea of playing someone with a really good heart with a lot of integrity. I liked the sense of humor he had in the script and in the book and that was great.
For me it was the material I think. I didn’t know anything about the books when conversations commenced. But I admired Neil’s work and I was a big fan of Shai’s and then I got in the stuff and read what they had at the time and started reading the novel and it sounded like a fun opportunity. It wasn’t my plan to play a villain at that particular time, but I thought that I should so I did.
Well there aren’t a lot of times that a girl … over 6 foot, big and strong gets to play a part in a great big movie so that was a big part of what drew me to Molly. She’s so strong and it’s really physical roll and that’s awesome and I’d never done anything like it before. I’d never really fought before and so yeah, but how cool to be over 6 foot. A lot of times that’s maybe something people think stand in your way and I kind of love that it celebrates that about me.
I have a bunch and I’ll try and keep them all quick. So I read Divergent and there’s just so much about this book. First off the title, let’s just acknowledge that “diverge” like “diverge from mediocrity”, “diverge from the mainstream.” To have a young adult franchise is so important so beautiful and amazing that an author had the courage and the bravery to create a series that revolved around that one fact.
I loved the fact that Tris is not inherently a superhero, she wasn’t born a badass. She didn’t start off really strong and really empowered and really cool. She started off really vulnerable and in a very sensitive position and she had to make a choice and face the consequences of that choice. Whether it was good or bad, or right or wrong. But I guess all choices in life are right, right? Because we’re always just moving forward. Tris discovers that on her journey. I love that there is a book and now a movie that sort of exemplifies what that journey can look like …
Right now we’re doing a bunch of press and they’re like, “how does it feel to play an empowered strong woman,” you know women rising to power and I think that it’s great. Obviously the more the females are acknowledged and it’s beautiful and so important right now. But at the same time you can’t acknowledge females and then discredit males. I think that this movie and this book does that as well. You see the relationship between Four and Tris and their relationship is equal. They’re both treated equally. And their partnership is not based on the fundamentals of being physically attracted to one another and that’s it or being or falling in love with each other overnight, which is just not real. It doesn’t happen that way, at least in my expereince. I fell in love with the fact that their relationship revolved around the virtues of respect … and connection and being proud of one another and being teammates and partners even more than lovers. I thought that was such a beautiful message to also be spreading out there especially in a young adult book again.
I really loved that Kate Winslet’s character was the antagonist, I know you asked what I loved about Tris, but I thought I’d talk about the whole book itself. I love that Kate Winslet’s character is the antagonist. But in the way that she’s presented and the way that Kate played her, she’s not an evil sort of ice queen. She’s just a woman who has different values than what Tris does and even though what she’s doing is wrong, going in and taking over a whole society and creating a murderous situation. Tris is also murdering people. So I thought it was interesting. I mean it’s the sad truth, but … to put them together and realize that neither is right or wrong if you look at it from that perspective they just have different viewpoints. Which you can relate to the Democrats the Republicans or whatever and I thought that, again, was a really interesting message just sort of throughout there. I read the book and was blown away by all of the metaphors and all of the similarities to things that are going on in today’s society. I just thought it would be an incredible experience to be a part of something like that and now, having done the movie and seen the movie, I could not be more proud to be part of something that’s so creative and entertaining and a beautiful message isn’t it?
About how she came up with the idea for Divergent
So I’ve been writing every day since I was eleven. And I didn’t realize it’s a weird thing to do. But apparently not everybody does that. And when Divergent came to me, ideas came in like really weird bits and pieces. And also lots of things coalesce in your mind at once so it’s really hard to pinpoint one exact moment. But the story I usually tell, which is true, but only a part of the truth is that when I was taking a psychology class my freshman year of college and I was learning about exposure therapy, which is that highly effective method of treating anxiety and phobias in which a person is repeatedly exposed to a stimulus that provokes their fear response until their brain becomes habituated to it. So it’s a way of overcoming unhealthy levels of fear. I thought it would be interesting to use that in a Sci-Fi context. So these fear simulations, these weird creepy nightmare realities or simulated realities were really interesting to me. So that is part of where it came from, but the story didn’t work until I found Tris’ voice. So that came four years later. And … I wanted to write a voice that was hard and direct straightforward and repetitive and that was a woman. Because we don’t expect that kind of voice from a woman, so I found that very interesting. So that’s kind of the two pieces of how Divergent happened. But it’s also kind of like how do you explain “it just came out.”
If you could play anyone in the movie…
Actually I really hate acting. No I mean I really admire what these people do because when I get in front of a camera I go, uhhhhhh and can’t really. I mean I was an extra and Neil is like, ok just be breathless but excited. And I was like, ok. And he was now stop here when you get to the top of the stairs and then catch your breath and walk to the railing. And all I did was this … [demos it]… I did it repeatedly. I mean eventually it was fine, but I was like Oh God and um, they had to coach me into pausing so the camera would come around and I would be like.. I just wanted to leave. This is a really long winded way of saying I would not play anyone, I would play Erudite extra number 3, or something …
I’ve posted footage of the Q&A’s on YouTube. Sorry in advance for the poor image quality. Professional camera equipment was not allowed in the venue. The first video is particularly horrible, but the additional ones are much better.