Shailene Woodley and Theo James Talk ‘Divergent’ and Young Adult Franchises
Earlier this month, FanBolt had the pleasure of sitting down with Shailene Woodley and Theo James at their Atlanta press junket to talk about their new film, Divergent, which is out tomorrow. We got their thoughts on everything from stunts and training to how they think they’re going to be handle to handle the fan craziness that awaits them (Seriously the Atlanta premiere was on par with Twilight fan madness in its prime). We also spoke with them about the message they hope fans take away from Divergent, and how it differs from other films in the young adult franchise genre.
Check out our full interview with Shailene Woodley and Theo James below.
Shailene, I have a question for you. I want to know what triggered your big survivalist bust?
Shailene Woodley: I really loved the lifestyle and loved how connected to the ecosystem they were. I started thinking about it and there’s this concept called “ReWillding,” a friend name Daniel Vitalis introduced – which is adapting to the conditions in which we live in, you know? Like adapting to living under fake lives and in dry wall and whatnot. Yeah, that’s sort of why I started studying wilderness survival skills. A, because I thought it would be fun, but B, just because I wanted to know how to survive and thrive.
Do you think that helped you get the role?
Shailene Woodley: I do. I hands on do. I went in there and right before I was having a meeting with the producers and they were like, “So what do you do in your free time?” I was like, I really love to do this and do that. I think hunting’s pretty fun, well it’s an important thing. If I want to eat meat, I need to know how to hunt. So we started talking and they were like, “do you work around guns?” And I was like, “Yeah, I know a little bit about them.” So I think it might have helped with Tris because we’re very similar, I guess, in that way.
You guys have both read some of the books. Was that helpful getting knowledge about your characters?
Theo James: Yeah, definitely. Neither of us have read the last one, because I think if we’re lucky enough to do any more movies, it will inform the performance a bit much. But definitely the first two. For both of us really, but specifically for Tobias, the second book really informs his background and it gives you more perspective on him. That was definitely important.
But then at the same time you need to make your own decisions about the character and be confident with them because obviously with them are you nervous about living up to expectation or playing a character that’s beloved and people are investigating. But at the end of the day, A, it’s good to be doing that because people already love the character which is definitely a positive thing. But then conversely, you need to make decisions based on your own instincts, because that is what our job is really.
How do you handle those fan’s expectations? You saw it last night how crazy everybody was at the premiere.
Theo James: You can’t really…
Shailene Woodley: Think about that, really.
Theo James: Be aware of it because anything that’s going to affect your performance you need to …
Shailene Woodley: Disregard it.
Theo James: Yeah, disregard. I was going to say you have your own take on the character.
Shailene Woodley: If I were to try and play Tris the way you envisioned her and the way you envisioned her and the way you envisioned her, she would be just like a clusterf**k. Sorry, a mess of like of a human, because it would be tons of different ideas of someone versus an intuitive authenticity that we were able to bring to the characters.
Theo James: They hire you for what you are going to do with the characters.
Shailene Woodley: When you think too much about the character, it ends up being boring.
Theo James: Yeah, it has to be natural and intuitive, as Shai is saying.
What would your fear landscapes be?
Shailene Woodley: Submarines in space.
Theo James: Dumbledore cooking pancakes [laughter].
Shailene Woodley: Dumbledore?
Are you sure it’s not orca sex?
Theo James: [laughter] Oh, yeah, remember that. That was the MTV.
Shailene Woodley: Did she just say orca sex?
She tried to say awkward sex but it came out as orca sex [laughter].
Shailene Woodley: That’s hilarious. That would hurt [laughter].
Theo James: Really. Yeah.
Shailene Woodley: A legitimate fear [laughter].
I wanted to ask about the training for the movie. All the physical training you had to do to get ready for it. Can you tell us a little bit? Can both of you tell us a little bit about what you had to go through?
Shailene Woodley: Feels like a year ago sometimes. We had about a month of training prior to filming which was fun and awesome. Our stunt coordinators are incredibly bad ass and are both ex-military. Right, both of them are?
Theo James: Jake is, I think. He’s an ex-boxer.
Shailene Woodley: You’re probably right. They’re very well versed in their world.
Theo James: Definitely the real deal.
Shailene Woodley: Yeah. So it’s fun. We did sort of, basic hand-to-hand combat training as well as physical fitness. You had to pump it in the gym all the time.
Theo James: They came up with.
Shailene Woodley: Yeah, choreography.
Do you do your own stunts, or a lot of them?
Shailene Woodley: As many as we could that insurance would allow.
So you didn’t jump off the train?
Shailene Woodley: I did do that.
You did do that?
Shailene Woodley: I jumped. We both ran and jumped on and off the train. The one scene where we’re like slow-mo in the air, that was me.
Were there any scenes in particular that you really wanted to do but couldn’t?
Shailene Woodley: I wanted to do the zip line more. Most of it is all green screen. There’s one shot where my stunt double went between buildings in Chicago. I wasn’t able.
Theo James: I thought it was all green.
Shailene Woodley: No, and I did it too. There was one. Alicia went maybe a thousand feet of the zip line, and I maybe did three hundred or four hundred feet. We were both eighty-five feet in the air, dangling in the middle of a Chicago alley. Like 2 A.M., 3 A.M..
Theo James: That’s cool.
Shailene Woodley: Yeah.
Theo James: That was one of my favorite sequences, the zip line. Thought it was cool. Well done.
Shailene Woodley: Yeah, thanks bud.
You’re a pretty good beat boxer, did you get your inspiration from W. Fresh? I saw you doing it last night on the carpet.
Theo James: Yeah, it’s true. I used to do really bad rapping when I was eighteen. We thought we were cool. We loved hip hop which is ironic, really, because I’m from Buckinghamshire.
Shailene Woodley: Nobody in America knows what that means.
Theo James: Well.
Shailene Woodley: I don’t know what that means.
Theo James: Anyway.
Shailene Woodley: That’s near London.
Theo James: Yeah, it’s outside. But it’s in kind of a funny paradox. Like the queen sipping tea and then [beat boxing].
Do you like rap music?
Theo James: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. We used to do it. My friends that we used to, at school. We used to love, we used to play basketball on this basketball team. We used to take boom boxes down. The funny thing is Americans are so awesome, because the standard here is so much better. Whenever we play guys here in America they whoop our asses. We used to take our boom boxes and try to go down to the local park and hustle. It was against like, twelve year old kids. We were like “What’s up, you want to play?” They’re like “No.” Random story. I’ve been drinking.
We heard you like beer. That’s your guilty pleasure, right?
Theo James: Ahhh.
Shailene Woodley: It’s your vice.
Theo James: I wouldn’t say it’s my vice.
Shailene Woodley: They’re all drinking right now [laughter].
Wine is the lifeblood.
Shailene Woodley: It is. I don’t have blood in my body. I have wine in my veins [laughter].
Theo James: It takes the edge off.
Shailene Woodley: Totally.
If you guys could be any superhero, who would you be?
Shailene Woodley: Oh. Cat Woman.
Shailene Woodley: So sexy. What a babe, right? Rolling up on her motorcycle in all black. Sleek like, in and out the window, Batman style, so cool. I’ve thought about this.
Theo James: In a practical way or like reflection of the movie?
Theo James: Superman I think would be too much, because there’s no limit really to you powers. Maybe Spiderman.
Do you think come March 21st or 22nd, your life is going to completely change? Have you thought about that? It could go from being able to go out anywhere you want to pandemonium.
Shailene Woodley: No, I don’t think about that.
What do you call the premiere last night?
Theo James: Really hard to, yeah, I really don’t know. I think as actors you’re mentally trained to not go there. Because you’re always -.
Shailene Woodley: We’re human beings. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, regardless of this industry or leaving this whole Divergent thing out of it. You never know what’s coming in life. To think about it or worry about it seems like such a waste of the present moment.
Theo James: The main thing is that we hope that it has it’s own journey, singular, based on its merits. The movie, and then the book.
Shailene Woodley: That’s a great way to put it.
What message do you hope young people take away from your films?
Shailene Woodley: So many. Do you want to start or should I go?
Theo James: Hit one.
Shailene Woodley: I think that there’s a lot. One of them is that you don’t need to be co-dependent. Think of the difference between, one is that you don’t have to be co-dependent in a relationship. You don’t need somebody to need you, you can be an empowered, strong individual and you can have another empowered strong individual and you guys can be partners. Then you can base your relationship on fundamentals of trust and pride and respect, which I think is really beautiful and a neat thing to have in a young adult franchise.
I also think it’s really neat that Tris and Christina have such a close relationship and they’re supportive of one another and there isn’t any jealousy or envy involved because you very rarely see that in films. And in real life where females are able to be supportive of one another without the external backstabbing and whatnot. There’s always drama that’s involved.
I think it’s cool there’s two strong females not trying to discount men, because I love men. The message in this movie, two strong females between Tris and Kate Winslet’s character, Jeanine, where they go head to head. Neither of them are right. Neither of them are wrong. If this movie was told through Jeanine’s eyes, Tris would look bad. Tris is killing people as well. I think that’s sort of an interesting thing to note and to correlate regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or you’re a Republican. Or whether you’re in one party versus another party. Whenever there’s opposing opinions, nobody is right or wrong. There are different standpoints, viewpoints. I think that if people can soak that up at a young age that’s a really neat thing to go into the world with.
Divergent is out in theaters March 21!