Shailene Woodley and Theo James tell us why 'Divergent' is not the next 'Twilight'
Are Tris and Four the new Bella and Edward? Banish the thought, says “Divergent” star Shailene Woodley.
“It’s not one of those teenage dramatic relationships where it’s love at first sight and she’s swooning over him and he’s there with her and then he withdraws and she has to chase him,” says Woodley (a.k.a. Tris Prior) during an interview on the Chicago set of the forthcoming young-adult book adaptation. “There’s no drama, I feel like it’s very real and very personal and realistic to how a lot of relationships are.”
“There’s probably drama, but I know what you mean,” interjects Woodley’s co-star Theo James, sitting beside her in a sleeveless t-shirt that shows off his muscled arms.
“Of course there’s drama but it’s not, it’s very different than the Bella/Edward relationship,” she responds. “They’re completely on the opposite sides of the spectrum.”
So what have we learned? Repeat after me: “Divergent” is nothing like “Twilight.” Tris and Four are not the next Bella and Edward.
“That was one of things…I was just like, ‘is it going to be another one of these movies?’” recalls director Neil Burger, joining his two young co-stars at the table. “Some of which are really good, but I wanted to [do] something different. We’ve seen a lot of post-apocalyptic movies, we’ve seen these other young adult movies. So I just thought that there was a way to do it in a much more cinematic way, to tell it visually, and also to tell it in a more real way.”
As part of that approach, Burger (whose past credits include the Bradley Cooper vehicle “Limitless” and 2006 magician drama “The Illusionist” starring Edward Norton) made the decision to actually shoot the movie on location in Chicago, as opposed to digitally inserting the city’s skyline later.
“I thought, ‘it’s set in Chicago and Chicago is this monumental place, why not use that?’ That’s the skyline, it’s already here, give or take a few buildings that might’ve been lost in the war,” says Burger, referencing the book’s post-apocalyptic setting. “I thought it would be cool to shoot it like street photography, but the streets are 150 years in the future. So to take that realness and bring it to all of it, to make it really immediate and intimate with the characters.”
Case in point: earlier in the day, we’d been taken on a short tour of the Abnegation compound, a cluster of boxy gray buildings surrounded by gravel that serves as Tris’s home before she chooses to leave her family for the Dauntless faction at the age of sixteen. With so many Hollywood productions built almost entirely on soundstages, it was striking to be touring a set that had been quite literally built in the shadow of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in downtown Chicago – and it’s exactly that note of authenticity Burger is hoping to strike with the audience as well.
“The idea of shooting a movie that’s set in the future but on the streets that are familiar…in a way even if you think about New York, even New York 80 years ago looks like what is it now,” notes Burger. “The style of the cars were different but it’s still four rubber tires on asphalt.”