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Insurgent Hotties: Theo James and Ansel Elgort

March 16, 2015

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By: Lynn Barker

Playing Four aka Tobias in the futuristic Divergent movie series has been both fun and challenging for handsome Theo James. In Insurgent, the second film version of the book series by Veronica Roth, Four and his love Tris (Shailene Woodley) don’t always see eye to eye. There is trouble in their war-torn paradise and Theo enjoys developing their relationship.

Ansel Elgort, who not only plays Tris Prior’s supportive but very different brother Caleb in the Divergent series but played her soul mate/lover in the popular The Fault in Our Stars, tells us what Shailene is really like. Does she keep a lot of herself hidden? How do these two friendly guys feel about family and their characters?

Caleb (Ansel Elgort)Caleb (Ansel Elgort)Courtesy of Lionsgate

Q: What was your favorite part about Four and Tris’s relationship? How has the relationship between Four and Tris evolved in this second film?

  • Theo: I like the fact that they have mutual respect for one another. I think that this movie is different from the first in the sense in that, in the first, Shay is playing catch-up, in a way, because she's introduced to this world and Four, you don't really know where he's coming from. He's a little bit elusive where, in this movie, he is almost trying to quell her revenge, the revenge she wants for the death of her friends and family. I think the relationship is different in the sense that they have a mutual respect for one another and her femininity doesn't detract from his masculinity and the other way around. She's a very strong female lead character, but she is also very feminine at the same time.

Four with short-haired TrisFour with short-haired TrisCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Ansel, how did your life change after Divergent?

  • Ansel:  I think a lot of our lives have changed a lot. My life obviously changed a lot since Divergent and then when my other movie The Fault in our Stars came out, it really changed a lot of people. Like now, every day, I go out and people ask for pictures, which is kind-of weird and different than before. But it's really nice when people recognize your work because most actors out there never have the opportunity to be seen, so I'm really grateful.

Caleb with Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet)Caleb with Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet)Courtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Both of you, what was it like working with a new director? (Divergent –Neil Burger  Insurgent - Robert Schwentke)

  • Theo: Second movie around, you've already set up some of the key storyline elements, so we have that luxury of jumping straight into the action without exploring characters or introducing them again. Also, his energy is inherently different, which is always good. As much as we like Neil, it's always fun to have someone to add something different, like new actors, new producers, it always helps to mix it up. We had a bit more money so that always helps.
  • Ansel: I remember the first day I came to set, Robert sat me in a room for about fifteen, twenty minutes and we really just talked about my character's arc throughout the whole story and he was like, "We're going to keep having these conversations because they're really important. I don't want to lose your character throughout the parts where he's not in it because it's an important arc." And I have a feeling he felt that way about everyone's character, and to me, him being a great action director, he was a great actor director at the same time.

Q: Theo, what was it like working with Naomi Watts who plays your mom in the film?

  • Theo: I was really excited to work with her, obviously, because she's a great actress and has done some phenomenal work. Firstly, which is interesting because she's playing my mum, (is that) she's been a babe (laughs), so I had to get past that. She's really interesting in this film because she has a very different energy. She's very calculating but, at the same time, she has a warmth and a kind of gentleness that almost juxtaposes what her (character’s) real ambition is. So, that was kind of nice in a way because it puts you on the same foot as the audience when you are doing the scenes with her. She’s not staring you down in a very abrasive way. It’s really loving and sweet at the same time so I think those elements really lended themselves well to her character and (it was great) playing off that.

Four (Theo James) and Tris (Shailene Woodley) get personalFour (Theo James) and Tris (Shailene Woodley) get personalCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Everyone's pretty tough in this movie except you, Ansel. Were you okay with that? Do you feel like you missed out on the action?

  • Ansel: I'm glad you asked this because I think it's really cool that, even though while I watched the movie, I was like “Jai (Courtney who plays Eric), is a bad-ass. He’s a frickin’ action star!”, Caleb is definitely not a bad-ass, he wasn't Dauntless. The reason he leaves Tris and Four to go back to the Erudite faction is because he knows he's not cut out for this. He says "I'm not cut out for this, I'm going to die."
  • It was definitely my conscious choice to make sure Caleb wasn’t (a bad ass). I'm a physical guy. I play basketball, go rock-climbing, I like to be physical, but Caleb definitely isn't. So if you watch the film, the way Caleb runs he looks like he doesn't belong. He looks like he's going to trip over something at any second. Because, to tell you the truth, it's never been something that he did. I want to make sure I was specific with that. Not everyone is a superhero; not everyone is an action hero. I think Caleb represents the intellectual. He represents someone who definitely wouldn't be able to run away from people shooting at him and that's why he decides to leave them.

Four at lunch confronting Peter (Miles Teller)Four at lunch confronting Peter (Miles Teller)Courtesy of Lionsgate

Q: How did you both deal with the new actors and characters in the movie?

  • Ansel: We had separate dinners, like they weren't allowed to come eat with us. But maybe the next movie (he’s kidding). Yeah, it was awesome, incredible especially for someone like me. I'm very new to this business and to be able to say the list of actors I've been able to work with is really incredible and a lot of that is due to the Divergent films; Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer. I was just at the Oscars for the first time, which was amazing, and I was sitting next to Octavia Spencer and I was able to act all cool like, "Yeah, I've worked with Octavia Spencer. I've known her for a long time." It was all cool.

Q: So you were also guarding that briefcase Neil Patrick Harris told Octavia to watch, right?

  • Ansel: Yeah, exactly (laughs).

Poster featuring Caleb (Ansel Elgort)Poster featuring Caleb (Ansel Elgort)Courtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Was it weird going from brother and sister with Shailene and then going to The Fault in Our Stars as her love interest now back to bro?

  • Ansel: Yeah, it was definitely really weird. I don't know how we did it, but we pulled it off somehow. We're happy that somehow it worked.
  • Theo: You wanted a kissing scene (in Insurgent) at one point.
  • Ansel: Yeah I asked Theo if it was alright. He said he wasn't feeling well and I said, "Listen man, I've done this before, I can take your part." (laughter) The guys who did the visual effects for these movies are really good, so they could have easily changed our bodies and it would have been cool.

Q: Yeah, right. Did you draw from your family lives to portray your characters?

  • Theo: No (laughs). Not directly. Four, he does not have a great relationship with his parents. Luckily, I have two good parents. That was something that needed addressing, a little bit, when it came to the Naomi scenes. Four was estranged from both parents, but I didn't want it to be a repeat of what he has with his father. So we had to discuss that between Naomi and I, but in terms of drawing on my own family, I think the importance of family is, for me, a big thing, so using those feelings, thoughts, philosophies and incorporating them in our characters is definitely something I did a little.
  • Ansel: For me, I have a great mother and father, sort-of like Caleb had a great mother and father and it was just about feeling betrayed at a point where you thought you could trust them. My character felt somewhat betrayed by his parents. (Spoiler Alert!) They were hiding this thing underneath their house, the whole time and it could have ended all the bloodshed that happened, if they would have just given the box to Jeanine. He thinks that there's nothing wrong with giving up the box. I think he finds out later that there was a reason why they were protecting it, from Erudite. But to Caleb, he's totally betrayed by his parents and for me, I trust them and if I was betrayed by my parents I probably would be upset, and numbed by that and that's how Caleb is in that cell scene.

Poster featuring Four (Theo James)Poster featuring Four (Theo James)Courtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Shailene tends to be somewhat of an open book, but over the years, working with her, what is one thing you learned about her that most people don't know?

  • Ansel: I think most things they don't know. Shailene is an open book and at the same time she's a very complex person. I think with all of us, our fans don't know everything about us which I think is a good thing. Shailene… (Theo’s phone goes off with the Siri voice) Hey Siri...(laughter)  I think that most of the things she wants you to know about she tells you, which is cool, but then the stuff that she needs to keep private to be herself, she keeps private. That's the same with all of us.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent is in theaters March 20th, 2015!

The Divergent Series: Insurgent PosterThe Divergent Series: Insurgent PosterCourtesy of Lionsgate
 

Insurgent Final Trailer "Stand Together"

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