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Divergent's Dauntless Dudes

March 20, 2014

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By: Lynn Barker

So, in addition to lead romantic couple Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), the Dauntless Faction in the film Divergent based on the popular novel series, is peopled with an impressive group of gorgeous young actors.

The line up: Miles Teller (plays Peter), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Will), Christian Madsen (Al) and Jai Courtney (Eric). We also talked a bit with Ansel Elgort who doesn’t play a “Dauntless Dude” but Tris’s brother Caleb who joins the Erudite Faction and later regrets it.

Jai Courtney (Eric) with Mekhi Phifer (Dauntless leader Max)Jai Courtney (Eric) with Mekhi Phifer (Dauntless leader Max)Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Kidzworld asked each guy to talk about his character and then tell us a few tidbits from the Chicago sets.

Kidzworld: All of you, talk about how you see the movie version of your character vs. the book version.

  • Miles: I play Peter and his fans call themselves “Peter’s Princesses”. I love you all. A lot of stuff we filmed is very true to the book.

Miles Teller as PeterMiles Teller as PeterCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Kidzworld: Do you see Peter as a bad guy?

  • Miles: No. I don’t think anyone wakes up and says “I’m gonna be mean today”.  He’s got an inner conflict and struggle that Veronica Roth talks about in her later books. Peter has a really nice arc by the end of them.
  • Jai: I’m Jai Courtney. I play Eric, one of the younger leaders of the Dauntless Faction. I guess I wanted to try and make Eric a little more likable than he seemed in the novel. The challenge was to try and dig in and find out what his motivation was. I didn’t want to be flat and dead and mean and I was a little paranoid that I’d create a boring performance. But I’m happy with what we wound up with in the end.
  • Ben: I’m Ben Lloyd-Hughes. I play Will who comes from Erudite and is a bit of a know-it-all. He’s got all the facts. He’s very intelligent and becomes very good friends with the core group of Tris, Christina and Al. I think the challenge with Will was just trying not to make him “Dr. Exposition” because he knows all the facts. I was pleased with how it came out. As The Rolling Stones say “You can’t always get what you want, but you might just find you get what you need”. We certainly did in the film. The warmth of his character comes out strong. I think and his likeability, hopefully, is there.
  • Christian: I’m Christian Madsen and I play Al. He’s sort of the quiet, shy one in the group, kind of like the gentle giant and I relate with that a lot. He kind of falls in love a little bit with Tris and she brings him into the group and he becomes one of the friends of Will and Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Tris. I think he’s coming from (the) Candor (Faction) which is honesty. He’s trying to be protective of everyone and runs into a lot of mistakes along the way but I think he cares about everybody. Also, having (author) Veronica on set helped me play as close to the character as possible. Sorry, I don’t have any Mick Jagger quotes. (Ben laughs).

Jai Courtney as EricJai Courtney as EricCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Kidzworld: Did you all bond while shooting?

  • Ben: We were all there for a long time so I certainly felt like (I was) my character as we went on the journey filming the movie. It was almost like a training exercise every day and we kind of bonded as everyone filled into their roles. I felt like I was really doing the Dauntless initiation as we filmed in warehouses in Chicago (everyone agrees).

Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Will, far left) watches a training battleBen Lloyd-Hughes (Will, far left) watches a training battleCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Kidzworld: How much did being on real sets rather than just against green screen help you with your acting?

  • Christian: For me, it’s really the first (big) movie I’ve ever done so CGI or not it’s sort of a new experience. But, I read the book and it takes place in Chicago so to film it in Chicago, these things don’t ever happen when you shoot a movie, to shoot in the same place (as the book) so it was exciting to read a page, “She climbs the Ferris wheel” and the next day, we go watch Tris climb the Ferris wheel or whatever.
  • Miles: There actually wasn’t a whole lot of green screen. Pretty much everything you see was a cool set. A lot of these abandoned buildings we were in weren’t dressed up. A lot of the buildings we were in were leaking if it was snowing. It was cold, dirt and dust and rats. Production did a great job.
  • Ben: Rats? As Miles says, as initiates, there wasn’t a huge amount of CGI. We would walk onto these sets and a lot of the story was told through our reactions, with just our eyes we were responding to these things actually happening to us. It was great to have these huge sets to respond to.

Four (Theo James) with trainees Christina (Zoe Kravitz) Peter (Miles Teller ) and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes)Four (Theo James) with trainees Christina (Zoe Kravitz) Peter (Miles Teller ) and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes)Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

And a few words from Ansel…

Kidzworld: Can you talk about your character in the movie compared with the book?

  • Ansel: I read the book after I got cast. It’s really helpful as an actor to have that kind of source material when fleshing out your character. This world is really three dimensional. To have this kind of movie, the first in a series, you have to introduce the whole world and the characters and then you have to tell a story on top of that. The way they achieved that is much better than I thought it would be. They did a perfect job.
  • It’s the same character arc for Caleb in the movie and book. He goes to join Erudite, then he comes back and says “I didn’t realize that this (Erudite’s trying to take the government from Abnegation) was going to happen”. He has regret. It’s faithful to the book. They had to cut out things you don’t need. If you have too many things going on, you can’t tell the story and flesh out the right characters.

Ansel Elgort as Caleb PriorAnsel Elgort as Caleb PriorCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Kidzworld: Who do you think was actually the best fighter on set?

  • Ansel: Well, I don’t really fight until the end but, by the looks of him, I’d say Jai. I wouldn’t want to mess with Jai. Him and Theo, I don’t want to mess with.

Kidzworld: What has your reception from fans been like?

  • Ansel: It’s amazing. It’s crazy. It’s so nice but that’s because of the stories. Every time I go to one of the (fan) screenings, everyone is screaming and people ask “How does it feel for everyone to be screaming for you?” I say “Well, if I was just here as a fan, people wouldn’t be screaming”. It’s because of the story. People are obsessed with the story that I’m a part of. I just am lucky enough to be a part of it.

Christian Madsen as AlChristian Madsen as AlCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Kidzworld: The young people in the film have to conform to one Faction and maybe that’s not all they are. Are you trying not to conform in your career as an actor?

  • Ansel: Well, right away I’m trying not to play only the leading man type of character. That’s why Caleb is awesome for me to play. You can easily be pigeon-holed in this industry but just in life. That’s one of the things that nice about being an actor, ideally, you are able to play a lot of different characters and be different people all the time. As human beings I think we all sort of strive to sort of be Divergents.

Ben Lloyd-Hughes as WillBen Lloyd-Hughes as WillCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Divergent is in theaters March 21st!

Divergent PosterDivergent PosterCourtesy of Summit Entertainment

Divergent Final Trailer