Interview: Shailene Woodley and Theo James chat about Divergent
Amid massive anticipation, high expectations, and the whirlwind that is starring in and promoting a beloved teen epic story, Shailene Woodley and Theo James remain calm, thoughtful, and humble.
In order for Divergent, a futuristic dystopian tale of growing up and fighting oppression, to become the successful film and thriving trilogy it hopes to be, Woodley and James must not only be incomparably winning, but bring something new to a world that may be a bit familiar.
“It is quite unique,” James said assuredly about the relationship between his character and that of Woodley. The pair were in Toronto walking the red carpet for the Divergent premiere weeks ahead of its release, and the they book sought to explain not only the appeal of the world, but the ways in which this story and the character’s relationship is different than say, The Hunger Games, et alia.
“It’s really a relationship in which they don’t really know where each other stands,” explained James. He plays Four, a physically-skilled and brave leader of one of five factions that exist in this post-war world. When of age, every teenage selects a role that they will undertake for the rest of their lives, become easily categorized, never to change. Four is in Dauntless, the protectors of the city, fearless and strong.
Woodley’s Beatrice foregoes following her family’s role of abnegation, and joins up dauntless, despite a test that suggest she may in fact be divergent – someone without one role, and thus someone who is dangerous.
“She kind of irritates him,” James continued. “She doesn’t know essentially what his motivations are. As they become trusting of one another, it becomes a very symbiotic relationship. One not based on needing. It’s not too cheesy in that way, it’s a kind of a partnership.”
“On top of that, the characters themselves are not stereotypes. They are quite dynamic, full 3D characters.”
So Four trains Tris, challenging her while trying to figure out what she is trying to accomplice, all the while secrets of the world they thought they knew slowly reveal themselves. Based on a series of successful novels by Veronica Roth, it is, like other popular YA tales, a story set in a dystopia where totalitarian regimes try to control everyone, but rebellion stirs in the young and idealistic.
“I think it probably has something to do with escapism,” said a very warm and friendly Woodley of te story’s appeal. “It’s a reality you don’t currently live in, but can still relate to. Divergent does take place in the future, even though it’s a dystopia, and there’s an artistic license to what that looks like, there are a lot of parallels to today’s society.”
Woodley’s Tris is indeed possessive of a questioning spirit, and alongside Four, she starts to realize that not everything she is told by the government is true. Her determination will hopefully resonant with mass audience, as Divergent hits theatres this Friday with the hope that the story and fight will continue for years to come.