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The most comprehensive source for everything DIVERGENT.

Divergent Lexicon Takes on Comic Con (EXCLUSIVE)- Press Conference Part Two

Divergent Lexicon fandom happenings

We shared with you the first part of our whirlwind Divergent experience at Comic Con a couple of days ago and how we have part two! There were so many cast members in attendance that the press conference was split into two groups, the main stars of the franchise coming in last (but certainly not least). The second group consisted of Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Neil Burger, and Veronica Roth.

Something that stuck out to me (Ashley) both times that I’ve been around Shailene is how seriously she takes this book. She really has a deep understanding of what makes this book special and as a fan, it puts my mind at ease to know that she really gets it…just like we do. Theo James, of course, was his typical goofy and adorable self and we cannot wait for the time to come for the cast to head out on their press tours in March. Theo is going to capture the hearts of the world just like he has captured the hearts of this fandom.

We hope you enjoy our transcipt of both Divergent press conferences!

(Note: If you would like to see Theo’s goofiness in video context, Clevver TV has uploaded great video coverage of the entire press conference)

For Neil, you’re known for making great movies with modest budgets but this is obviously a much bigger project, I was wondering if you could about some of the pluses and minuses of working on a project on a grander scale and then if you guys want to talk about what Neil brought to this project that made it special in your own minds.

Neil Burger: So now I’m making a modest movie with a great budget. What I liked about it was Veronica’s book, obviously, and what’s wonderful for a director is to try and create a new world, you know a world that’s set in the future and created all that visually but really what I liked was what was at the heart of it which was the human element of this young woman’s journey. Which I felt that yes, it’s based off a young adult story, but I felt like it was a universal story about where do I belong, who am I, who am I loyal to? You know am I loyal to my family, am I loyal to myself, what am I really willing to go out on a limb for? I liked all of those ideas and I thought that, in her book, they were all really tightly tied to the action about what happens and then I felt like it expanded out to something much larger which was you know, how do you keep a society together. In the beginning it seems like they’ve got it all figured out, they’ve got this five faction system which is kind of a cool idea and they seemed to be living in peace and harmony because of it but then it starts to fall apart. I really liked the character Tris and how she goes all through that. And I liked the fear landscapes, I thought they were really cool.

Shailene, can you talk a little bit about being the lead star of such a big scale project and also what was it like working with Miles again?

Shailene Woodley: Working with Miles again? It was awesome! Miles is great. Green screen acting is by far way more difficult than human interaction so that was a big kind of learning lesson on this movie. It was really fun, I’ve never done a movie on this scale before with themes this big with a world that’s somewhat different than the world we live in today. A lot of it was challenging for me I found because I had to sort of erase my preconceived notions of what I was used to acting in movies which is generally reacting off of somebody else and sort of create a new world and adapt my style of artistry to the style that this movie sort of lent to which was really exciting. Neil created such, well Veronica originally created such an amazing world and then Neil visually brought it to fruition in a way that I could have never imagined it. We’re so lucky to sort of be pieces in the puzzle of this new dystopian future.

Shailene, I imagine in the life of a young actor all of these big franchise properties may come your way, your agents may send you out for all of them, had you gone out for any of the other big young adult literary franchises and what made Divergent the one you wanted and have you talked to any of your colleagues that also had some of these big franchises?

Shailene Woodley: I did audition for The Hunger Games back in the day and Jen Lawrence actually helped me with Divergent because- I still have yet to meet her- I asked her about her experience with The Hunger Game and how her life has changed and going from small, independent movies to something as big as Hunger Games and she gave me really beautiful advice. Just sort of saying how much she appreciated it and how much it’s changed her life for the positive and the positive ways so she kind of helped me on this journey initially.

Theo James: I went for Star Wars, the news ones…as Chewbacca’s son. It’s an integral role so cross your fingers.

Veronica, in your novel you talk about values like bravery, honesty, being intelligent, and stuff like that. How does that come from your own faith and philosophy and how do you bring that to life visually because it could be something that could be kind of stale in a movie. Big ideas like that.

Veronica Roth: Yeah. I’ve always thought of Divergent as kind of an indictment of myself because the virtues are selected on how I would create my own personal utopia. You know, if I were arranging a utopia, it would be a world in which everyone holds themselves accountable, is responsible for their actions, and these are the virtues I would choose. The process of writing the book was one of seeing that I just be a terrible God of the universe and just don’t do it. Don’t give me that responsibility. So that’s kind of the world and where all of those virtues come from is just a very personal place. And as for how to transfer it visually…I didn’t do that so… (gestures to Neil Burger)

If you were put into a fear landscape, like you guys…

Neil Burger: You mean right now?

Shailene Woodley: This is a fear landscape.

Veronica Roth: This is a simulation.

Yeah, just personally what would be in your fear landscapes?

Veronica Roth: Lots of bugs, like…lots of bugs.

Neil Burger: Theo, what are you afraid of?

Theo James: Hummus probably (pronounces it hoomus)

Neil Burger: What?

Theo James: Hoomus, or Hummus as you would say. (laughs) Basically various dips that you put pitta bread in…pita bread, pitta bread.


Theo James: Hummus, sorry, my grandfather’s Greek…

Shailene Woodley: HUMMUS, hummus, H-U-M-M-U-S

Theo James: No, my grandfather’s Greek so he used to say hoomus, anyway…

Neil Burger: Does that answer your question? (Shailene and Theo laugh) Shailene, what would be your fear? (pauses) I’ll be asking all of the questions from now on.

Shailene Woodley: She (Tris) got pecked by crows, that’s pretty terrifying. I would not like that at all.

Veronica Roth: My mom picked the crows, did you know that?

Shailene Woodley: Did she?

Veronica Roth: I said spiders or crows? And she said “crows” and that’s how it happened.

Shailene Woodley: I think crows are worse than spiders, it’s awful. Ugh.

Veronica Roth: Yeah, way creepier.

Shailene Woodley: Yeah I’m not into that idea at all.

Shailene, in the last panel they talked about how you would be giving up your privacy for the role and you’ve addressed here as well. They’ll be positives but there will also be negatives with it being such a high profile project. What do you think will make it worth it about this role?

Shailene Woodley: The whole like anonymity thing is an interesting concept. I think that if you lead the life that you want to live and you are the person that you want to be then there’s really not a lot to be afraid of? Then there’s really not a lot of negatives because I think that you can create a life outside of yourself that sort of this industry is able to infiltrate and you create a life inside yourself that nobody really has access to so I’m just excited for it. I’m excited for the future. I know Theo, you’re very afraid, you’re so fearful.

Theo James: I’m extremely scared; I wake up every day scared. No, I think it’s definitely a question that you have to contemplate and you have to be sure you’re going to do it. But if you’re entering something that already has a fan base, has people invested in it, and has books that obviously Veronica wrote which are great pieces of work, I think as long as you but your everything into it and try and make a movie that you are proud of, the rest hopefully will come with it and hopefully people will be as proud of it as we are proud of it. Because we finished literally two days ago so we’re kind of very fresh off it and we feel very proud of it and very excited for people to see in Hall H this piece of footage which Neil and the guys have put together. I was saying to Shai before, when you’re doing a movie you know what you’ve done and you know what your colleagues have done and you’ve seen bits and bobs but really until you’ve seen something cut is when it’s really gratifying and you say “okay now I see it in the context of the world” and you can see that it’s going to be a really strong piece of work. Well done (pats Neil on shoulder)

Shailene, did you read the book before you started shooting and what inspiration were you able to take for your character from the novel or did you stick solely to the script?

Shailene Woodley: Yeah, I read the book, definitely read the book. I read the book before there was even a script that I read. And luckily for me it was written from Tris’ point of view so Veronica kind of did a lot of the work for me (laughs).

Veronica Roth: (laughs) Totally different work. Totally different.

Shailene Woodley: Before scenes, I would go back to the book and sort of see what Veronica had put in there in Tris’ mind and the mindset behind each scene and that really helped me get into the emotional stature of where Tris was in that particular place.

This is question is for Veronica. I was here a few years ago when you first were here with your book when it was first sold and bought and you knew it was going to be a film. How is it to be back here now with the film?

Veronica Roth: Man, it’s crazy! Two years ago I did a very brief little press conference and I was at a table just like this but it was just me and I was just sitting like “okay…how’s this going to go?” but this year it’s just so exciting to have something to share with people. And to have that something be so awesome, I think. I’m excited for everyone to see this amazing footage and to get to talk with these wonderful people. It’s all been great.

For Veronica, the kind of Divergent idea kind of struck me as similar to high school lunch tables being divided up. What table did you sit at in high school?

Veronica Roth: Umm, ooh what a question. My high school wasn’t like one of those easily dividable high schools but I was a nerd, I guess? Yeah. This is a great place to be a nerd. I mean Comic Con? Yeah, bring it on!

For Shailene and Theo, what is something that you both admired about the characters you played?

Theo James: I had an affinity with the character from the first time I read anything on it. He was different to me because he had sort of a grounded, quiet sense of masculinity which I don’t think you see much these days. It’s kind of reminiscent in my mind to those old movie stars. I said to Neil, this kind of Paul Newman…this strong sense of masculinity without having to show it, being watchful and intelligent but also encompassing all those traits of someone with strength and a strong sense of being.

Shailene Woodley: I really admire Tris’ sense of selflessness. I know that she sort of grew up with that and it was engrained in her at a very young age but I think that is a trait that we could use a lot more of in the world today. I think that coupled with the bravery that she’s sort of forced to call upon makes for a really profound, complex human and I really found her admirable in that way.

For Theo, obviously not many people had probably heard about you prior to getting this. You were the ‘foreigner flirt’ on Downton who met a tragic end.

Theo James: What’s Downton? (laughs)

So what was it like coming into this because really you weren’t on anyone, at least fan wise, radar for this character?

Theo James: Interesting question. It was good actually for me because I came in late doors. They had been looking for a long time to fulfill that spot and they hadn’t found anyone. As soon as I came in and I met Neil and Shai it was a very natural fit and it happened very quickly and that is gratifying but I kind of knew that they had invested in me and found something they had been looking for a long time. It’s a good thing because you know you feel safe and you feel gratified and wanted. He’s a tough character to find I think because he’s young but he’s an old soul I think because he has a lot of complexity so it was good.

Hi! For Neil Burger, how true is the movie to the book?

Neil Burger: I think it’s going to be very true to the book actually. Obviously a movie is a different beast than a book…

Are there going to be any surprises for fans?

Neil Burger: I think so…

Shailene Woodley: Four’s only in two scenes.

Veronica Roth: Don’t say such things!

Theo James: I play a Chihuahua. I’m four because I have four feet.

Neil Burger: No but I think that was the great challenge of making this movie was to fit as much of the book into it because there’s so many characters in the book that have their function in the book and they’re kind of beloved. There’s so many great set pieces- too many really to fit into a movie- but we really worked hard to squeeze them all in and to kind of come up with an idea for a movie that was even more fast paced than usual and more kind of denser than usual. You know there’s three villians and she’s got her own set of friends and there’s her relationship with her parents and her relationship with Jeanine Matthews. There’s a lot going on in the book and there’s going to be a lot going on in the movie so it’s very faithful to it. Obviously certain things are smoothed out or combined to make sort of one central, dramatic journey in the movie whereas there might have been more kind of turns in the book. But it’s pretty faithful.

Quick question for Theo James, I’m a big fan actually of your singing and I know you have a band.

Theo James: I thought you were going to ask me to sing

Is that something you would do in Divergent?

Theo James: Yes, that is something I like to do on the side. It’s something I’ve done since I was very young, I did music in college and it’s part of my ‘thang.’ It’s a good way to kind of purge yourself of one work and dive into something else.

Neil Burger: It’s an acapella group right?

Theo James: Yeah, acapella hip-hop euro housebeat. I just dance naked in red hot pants…

For Veronica, is there any particular scene in the movie that was so familiar to the book in the way that you imagined it? Is there something special that you just love that they did with the movie?

Veronica Roth: The scene that felt the most familiar was the Ferris Wheel scene because it was the ferris wheel…that’s in Chicago that I wrote about. That Ferris wheel, they were climbing that Ferris Wheel, on the ladder that I like researched to make sure it was there. Like oh, yeah this is exactly right. A lot of it felt very familiar because as Neil said it’s very faithful. I was trying to remember  the other day any pivotal scenes that had been cut and I couldn’t really remember any.

For Shailene and Theo, now that you just finish filming, literally just the other day, and it may be hard to choose but was there a best day on set and what was it?

Shailene Woodley: My favorite day was the ferris- well, there was a lot of good days to be honest man- but the Ferris Wheel day was pretty special. It was a night shoot and we climbed this Ferris Wheel for like what, 12 hours? 14 hours? In the middle of the night and it was also the first full moon, the first super moon of the year which I’m such a geek over.

Neil Burger: It was 38 degrees out as well.

Shailene Woodley: It was SO beautiful and we got to watch the moon go across and it was just a magical moment in life. And how often do you get to climb a Ferris wheel? You never do so that was probably one of my favorite moments of life. (laughs)

Theo James: Wow. It was very special. Mine was probably the climactic scene in the movie when Four has been put under this serum and he’s not himself and Shai, I mean Tris, she comes to basically save the day and we have this fight scene between them and she essentially wakes him up through love. It sounds kind of…but it was a very powerful scene. We were both sweating and I had my hands around Tris…Shai’s neck and there was this moment where we kind of connect and it felt very real. It was a great way to add emotionality to a big action set piece and I think it’s going to be a really beautiful part in the movie.

Shailene Woodley: I agree.

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