'Divergent' cast dishes on characters, starring in movie franchise

The Fresno BeeMarch 19, 2014 

LOS ANGELES — Shailene Woodley plays the central character of Tris in the new action film "Divergent." But the film features a large supporting cast. Here's a look at some of the others involved with making the action film (read Bentley's review).

Theo James

Plays: Four, the instructor who connects with Tris.

You know him from: His "Downton Abbey" character died after having sex with Lady Mary.

On finding the elements to play Four: "I had an immediate affinity with the character. I think we share certain qualities. You tend to try and use everything you share with a character in everything you do. I love this person who you don't know what he's thinking. He's the type of person when he walks into a room, doesn't need to be the loudest voice, but you still feel his presence. He's not someone who speaks too much, but you know he's thinking all the time. He's a a very perceptive person. On top of that, there's kind of a dangerous stillness I felt he had when reading the book and the script."

Maggie Q

Plays: Tori, a Dauntess member who unwillingly becomes a mentor for Tris.

You know her from: She starred in the CW Network series "Nikita."

On giving Tori depth: "When you are in the Dauntless faction, they are known for their bravery. They're a tough faction and that can be a little flat and cold. You don't want that. You want the undertone to read properly when you are doing a film like this, so you aren't just watching a bunch of mean, driven group of people. What makes Tori engaging and mysterious is that line between what's felt and what's expressed."

Tony Goldwyn

Plays: Andrew, Tris' father.

You know him from: He plays the president on "Scandal."

On his "Divergent" character: "I had read the book and the character is similar to the book. I'll say that (director) Neil Burger in developing the book into the screenplay really fleshed out some of the secondary characters more than they are in the book. He took a strong point of view with Andrew, where I think you have a lot of compassion and connection to our family, which is really useful in telling the story."

Mekhi Phifer

Plays: Max, the top dog in the military-oriented Dauntless.

You know him from: Spent years working in the "ER."

On being in a big-budget action movie: "This was an interesting journey for me because I have never done a sequel-based film. I am use to being able to understand what the character's arch is in any given script by reading it from beginning to end. In this, I had certain things I knew I wanted to bring. It was interesting because I didn't know where the character was going."

Miles Teller

Plays: Peter, a member of Dauntless.

You know him from: He kicked up his heels in the remake of "Footloose."

On how he sees his character: "I don't think anyone wakes up and says 'I'm going to be mean today.' I think it comes from some kind of inner conflict and struggle, which (author) Veronica (Roth) talks about in her later books. Peter has a really nice arch by the end of it."

Jai Courtney

Plays: Eric, one of the leaders of Dauntless.

You know him from: He starred in the TV series "Spartacus: War of the Damned.'

On how he plays the character different from the book: "I actually wanted to make Eric a little more likable than he seemed on the page. When you have a cast of characters like this they can feel a little functional. The challenge was to try and do something about that and dig in and find out what his motivation was."

Ansel Elgort

Plays: Caleb, Tris' brother

You know him from: He was in the recent remake of "Carrie."

On turning the book into a movie: "I think the world is really three-dimensional. It's impressive because to have this kind of movie, that's the first in a series, you have to introduce a whole world. Introduce all the factions. Introduce all the characters. And then you have to tell a story on top of it."

Ben Lloyd-Hughes

Plays: Will, a new Daunltess member.

You know him from: He was in the British TV series "The Hour."

On playing the character: "The challenge in playing Will is — because he has all the facts and is a complete know-it-all — to not make him Dr. Exposition so that everything he says is not about just moving the story along. The warmth of his character comes out in the film."


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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