Photo: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment.
We don't want to spoil anything for you, but the Divergent movie is so good. The highly anticipated flick lives up to the hype in pretty much every aspect, especially when it comes to those high-flying action scenes. Taking on the role of the seemingly fearless Tris Prior was no easy task, but Hollywood darling Shailene Woodley did a standup job. One gets the feeling from talking to her, however, that it all came pretty easy — just one of her enviable attributes.
"A lot of who Tris is resonated with me," she said at the movie's press conference. "When I was her age, I was going through a lot of those struggles...as a teenager I had to balance being compassionate and empathetic toward my peers and also living my life for myself. She was raised in a society where she had to be selfless and then join a faction that's all about being selfish — she had to find the balance between that. That's how I relate to her."
Tris' personal struggles might hit close to home for Woodley, but the rest of the character's life is far from the actress' norm. As an initiate of the Dauntless faction, Tris goes through rigorous training — we're talking jumping off buildings, target practice, and even climbing to the top of a ferris wheel. And, (almost) every stunt was done by Shailene herself — something that definitely took its toll.
"We definitely did get some black-and-blue bruises and we have a few scars on our bodies," she said. "But, as Theo [James, who plays Four] always says, if you do a big action movie and don't walk away a little banged up then you're doing something wrong. And, we got to climb the Navy Pier ferris wheel! I don't think anyone's ever done that before...I am afraid of heights, but I love adrenaline so that got me going. The 20-degree weather was the hardest part I think — it was freezing."
The ferris wheel may have been the most nerve-wracking scene for the audience (this writer herself can attest to a minor panic attack thanks to the zooming wide-angle shots and 20-story drop), but the fight sequences came with the biggest learning curve. Tris takes on pretty much everyone, from fellow Dauntless initiates during training to major adversaries within the government. Without giving too much away, the flick's climactic fight scene was way badass.
"The fight scenes are so intense, specifically the one with Theo at the end of the movie," said Woodley. "That dude, he boxes in real life, and he's strong. If I forgot to duck at the right time or if I moved left instead of right he would have decked me and I would have been out cold. I learned the sequence that morning, and we filmed a few hours later. He [James] makes it look amazing, but you realize that while you're acting it's also kind of real."
Photo: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment.
If you're anything like us, this all sounds pretty terrifying. But, Shailene Woodley isn't your average actress — she's got more of a head on her shoulders than most of the A-listers we've come across. Not to mention, an awesomely unconventional lifestyle that probably played a major role in her Divergent prep. By now it's no secret that the actress doesn't own a cell phone and has an affinity for making her own toothpaste and collecting her own spring water, but her skill set doesn't end there.
"I started studying indigenous cultures a few years ago and I was really inspired by their lifestyle," she said. "That's how I became interested in survival skills. I eventually realized I know how to make a fire out of sticks and build shelter, but I live 95% of my life in an urban environment — so, I started learning urban survival skills. Especially with the draught in California right now, there are so many resources we're depleting so quickly. So, I thought it would be an interesting skill set to have if something goes down — or, even if it doesn't, it's just sort of a fun hobby."
If you're impressed, you're not alone. But, Shailene's resilience is going to serve her well, because the Divergent mania is just getting started. She still has two more movies to film as Tris Prior and a whole lot of attention coming her way. For the actress, the calm before the storm is all about reflection. "I learned what was important to me during the process [of filming]," she said. "When you only have six or seven hours at home between work days and you're working five and a half months straight, you learn what you cherish and who's important in your life. You learn how to use your time and whether you're going to use it wisely."