On March 21st, Summit’s latest YA mega-franchise adaptation, Divergent, hits movie theaters across the country. Geek News Network sits down with two of the film’s stars, Miles Teller and Jai Courtney, to discuss factions, fans, and kicking my ass.
GNN: So Miles, you have now done two films now with Shailene Woodley. The first being The Spectacular Now where you played her boyfriend and now in Divergent where you play a rival who is constantly harassing her; which is the more preferable role: Shailene’s lover or enemy?
Miles: You know, the falling in love part with Shailene was really nice. In that movie Shailene and I really got to know each other by the end of that thing because [The Spectacular Now] was such a well written script. But with all that bullshit aside, the fighting was fun, the fighting style was fun with Peter; I really got to work. If Peter and Tris had more interaction I would say that, but yeah it is fun to do some choreographed fights with Shay.
GNN: Did you receive any advice from actors from other franchises in regard to what you will be experiencing with Divergent having such a large fan base?
Miles: I am friends with Justin Chon (he was Eric in Twilight), and I was remembering early on when I was signing an autograph, he was like ‘make that shorter,’ he said, ‘trust me, for Twilight I signed like a thousand autographs, man.’ So, that was really the only advice I got from one of those, like, franchise actors.
GNN: How about you Jai?
Jai: Uh, none. I don’t know anyone. Uh, anyone. I don’t know anyone Yeah, uh… no. Not directly related to this kind of world.
Miles: You will find a lot of actors a) don’t know each other and b) they are not too keen on giving advice sometimes.
Jai: I am sure Shay got something.
Miles: I know that Shailene received some advice from Jen (as in Lawrence), that they traded emails. I called Chris Hemsworth but he didn’t call me back. (To Jai) Maybe you could help me out with that.
Jai: I don’t know him.
Miles: Come on, you guys are both Australian!
Jai: Yeah, [that’s] right.
GNN: So, what attracted you to your part in Divergent and did you do any research in preparation for the role?
Jai: I think what attracted me to the project, more so than the role, was the people who were making [it]. I didn’t know anything about the books, but I liked Neil’s previous work and obviously when you have Kate Winslet attached. Also Shay- I remember seeing her in ‘The Decendants’ and thinking, who is that? I had a bit of a watch this face attitude and I thought it was cool they were all going to be working together. I did a search on the novels and saw how successful and popular they were and began to think seriously about it. Yeah, and it was a project in a genre I hadn’t worked in before. It was a pretty simple strategy really.
Miles: For me it was an opportunity to do something different, I had done some comedy and some indie drama stuff and this was a more physical role. It had some action in it. It was kind of a trajectory I was aiming for, I told my agent, ‘I want to shoot someone in my next movie, or like ride a motorcycle or something.’ Also Shailene just kind of convinced me to do it.
GNN: So, now that you have discovered that Divergent is a really large franchise and you both will be moving into different franchises [with the reboots of Fantastic Four and Terminator respectively] how has Divergent prepared you for the pressure of these future franchises and your expectations?
Miles: I feel like that stuff is so out of our hands, it doesn’t matter if I get a two million dollar movie or a hundred dollar movie; it all starts with a script, the script is the same exact thing. You still have to memorize your lines, you still have to do all the same stuff, but this is one of the first things I have done with a built in audience already. It’s good though. You have people waiting and lining up for hours and hours waiting for us to just show up, say hi, and sign some autographs, and that is great. I love this. I love it. It’s fun.
Jai: Yeah, it’s cool.
Miles: I don’t want it all the time. But it is nice in doses.
Jai: Yeah, I don’t know that this has necessarily prepared me, like I am barely getting ready for the Terminator thing.
Miles: (laughs) Terminator is going to be a bunch of older guy fans. It will be way different but just as die-hard.
Jai: I still like watching the first one [Terminator] every year. I don’t know, I think exposure is a funny thing. There isn’t like a formula to kind of handle it, you deal with it circumstantially and some people cope with it well and others don’t.
Miles: I will probably get a drug problem. My life is pretty boring.
Jai: (laughs) Another one?
GNN: This is a film that has a lot of physicality as you pointed out before Miles, that you had not done this kind of physical film before, and Jai, you have had a little more experience in the action realm. How did you prepare for the action sequences in Divergent before the start of filming?
Miles: I had some TRX with Jai.
Jai: That’s not true.
Miles: It’s the same thing my Navy Seal buddies do.
Miles: No, we had a boot camp. Me, Shay, Theo, Christian, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, and Amy; we all kind of did a boot camp with the stunt coordinators, and the stunt coordinators are both bad asses. This dude Garret has like an eye patch and he was shot in the face. That is how he got it. The other guy J.J. was like a Special Forces guy, so they didn’t treat us like actors it was pretty intense training, because these characters are supposed to be this ‘fight or die’ kind of warrior mentality so we worked on that. I got pretty good at throwing knives.
Jai: I got off really lucky in this one. I didn’t do anything. Well, there wasn’t really anything in the script and sometimes it’s about building camaraderie and you get into that space of what that character might be doing even if it’s not on screen, but I think just through scheduling was the way it worked out and I showed up very late after these guys.
Miles: Yeah, you missed the camaraderie part.
Miles: (laughs) And I think that affected you as well as us.
Jai: (laughs) And my performance.
Miles: And the entire run of the show.
Jai: Well, you know Eric is a bit of an outcast.
GNN: What new projects are you most excited about in the future now that Divergent is in the can?
Miles: I am really excited about Fantastic Four. I am really liking the idea of this character who is established and [was] around when my dad was a kid, and really getting to put my stamp on it. That is really exciting. I did a full body scan the other day, like this whole image thing. I got to see what my face would look like in a video game. I remember that that was cool. Hopefully, there will be this other project in the fall, I am hopeful about that. It will be produced by Martin Scorsese and it will have a really nice script, so we will see if that all comes together.
Jai: Similar, kind of deal with me. The Terminator thing is new news; I will be gearing up for that in April.
Divergent Premiere in Tempe, AZ. Photos taken by Eric Fiallos of Bald Pirate Photography. All rights reserved.
GNN: Going back to Divergent, you had mentioned you knew of the popularity of the series, had either of you read the books? Or did you perhaps Wiki it to see where it was going? Was there anyone on set not reading them who didn’t know what was coming?
Miles: I don’t know if Veronica Roth has read the book (laughter). She showed up on set and was going on and on. I still really don’t know her involvement with this franchise. Yeah, I read the book. But to be honest with you, I really did pretty much read the whole thing, but I didn’t really care. Once I was signing on for the whole thing, I didn’t really care what happened between Tris and Four, like if it is out of Peter’s world I don’t care. So, really, I read anything that influenced my world so anything with Candor and Dauntless stuff, but I don’t really care if Tris and Four fall in love. In fact, I hope they don’t.
Jai: Yeah, I hadn’t read anything but obviously did my due diligence for the role.
GNN: So, if you had to chose any faction what would it be?
Jai: Dauntless! All the way!
Miles: I would be in the Grateful Dead faction and we would just listen to the Dead. All the time.
GNN: There wasn’t really a slacker faction was there?
Miles: I wouldn’t say slacker but a musician faction. [They] said like, if you could invent a faction and I said musicians, because I don’t know where the music is coming from.
Jai: Yeah, who is making the music out there?
GNN: It’s Ellie Goulding apparently.
Jai: There are holes in this whole system.
Miles: Although if this took place a hundred years in the future it would probably be like an Avicii faction, an EDM faction. You just listen to EDM.
Jai: What is EDM?
Miles: Electric dance music.
Jai: That’s what it is?
GNN: Is that where they drop the bass?
Miles: That is where they drop the bass.
GNN: What do you both hope to see in the upcoming Divergent sequels?
Miles: Naked chicks. I’m just waiting to see Shailene take it off.
Miles: More Peter! Veronica did tell me in Insurgent that Peter was her favorite character. So, we will see if that shows up.
Jai: Or that Will spin off.
Miles: We did a prank on Ben Lloyd-Hughes.
Jai: We wrote a card from Veronica Roth.
Miles: Yeah it said, ‘It’s a pleasure meeting you, you are such a nice guy, and I can’t wait to work with you in the future, give me a call.’ I wrote this cell phone number down, it was Jai’s number. So, we would be texting back and forth and he legitimately thought his character was coming back; he plays Will, he thought his character was coming back to life. He finally called the number and it started ringing in Jai’s pocket. He got pretty upset. He was ready to move to the States – he was pretty pumped for that.
GNN: Thank you guys so much for joining us today and answering these questions. It’s always appreciated, though before we go… would you ever want to live in a world like the one that takes place in Divergent?
Miles: No! Not… uh… no! Maybe if you want to live in a world where someone tells you what to do. Some people need that structure. I feel like I am a pretty good whip cracker; I don’t need somebody else telling me what to do. But, I mean obviously I would be Four, in this world. I mean I could probably beat the two of you up. I mean, you will get your ass kicked. I have been working out all, uh, all last year.
GNN: Perhaps, but I really wouldn’t want to go up against Jai. I’ve watched Sparticus. I know how that gets.
Jai: Yeah, I am pretty hardcore.
About the movie:
Synopsis: In a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities, Tris Prior is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late. Based on the worldwide bestselling novel by Veronica Roth, DIVERGENT is directed by Neil Burger, with a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor. DIVERGENT arrives in theaters & IMAX nationwide March 21, 2014.
Company: Summit Entertainment, Red Wagon Entertainment
Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort
Official Site: http://DivergentTheMovie.com/