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'Divergent' Cast, Director Keep Fans in Mind

31 Jul, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

Director Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist) had one mission when he was charged with directing Divergent, the first installment of Lionsgate's latest action adventure franchise: Stay true to the source material.

“I think it’s … very true to the book,” Burger said of the film, based on author Veronica Roth’s bestselling book series. “The great challenge of this was to fit as much of the book into it [as possible]. It’s pretty faithful.

“For a director, what’s wonderful is creating a new world.”

Roth thinks Burger got the page-to-screen world of the franchise right.

“It’s exciting to have something to share with people and to show people something so awesome,” she said.

Divergent — set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where people are separated into different factions based solely on their virtues — pulled in nearly $275 million at the worldwide box office and already has a sequel (Insurgent) set for early 2015.

The film follows a teenage girl (played by The Descendants’ Shailene Woodley) who tests positive for attributes from several factions, making her “divergent” (a threat to the powers that be, and a distinction punishable by death). Lionsgate releases the film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Aug. 5.

“The world we created, people are … excited about it once they see it,” said actor Miles Teller from Project X and 21 & Over, who plays Peter in Divergent. “Your life does change [with a franchise]. It’s big for all of us, but for Shailene … [she’s] trading in a lot of [her] personal life.”

Woodley — who’s signed on to play the lead role of Tris for three more films through 2017 — said the toughest part of the job is getting used to acting in front of a green-screen, something she wasn’t used to doing in her prior roles.

“Green-screen acting for me is by far more difficult than human interaction,” she said. “A lot of it was challenging. I had to erase my preconceived notions.”

Actress Maggie Q (“Nikita,” Live Free or Die Hard) laughed when she called her role in the franchise “a nice departure,” since she’s usually involved in action-heavy roles, while actor Mekhi Phifer (“Torchwood,” “House of Lies”) relayed that this was the first acting job that his teenage son was actually invested in.

That was a point Divergent actor Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Great Expectations) made as well: The novels have sold approximately 22 million copies worldwide, and teens are the main audience.

“We respect their appreciation and love for the project,” he said. “I know they’re such a passionate fan base.”

Already available on digital, the Divergent Blu-ray combo pack includes the documentary "Bringing Divergent to Life,” the exclusive featurette “Faction Before Blood,” and both the Blu-ray and DVD include deleted scenes and two audio commentaries.

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