Allegiant: An Interview with Shailene Woodley - Her Role in the Latest Film in Divergent Series and More

By Priyanka Basu, Everymedia

Shailene Woodley TIFF 2011.jpg
By Ed Van-West Garcia - Shailene Woodley, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Mumbai, April 05, 2016: Star of the Divergent series Shailene Woodley went on a backpacking trip across Europe and also made a stop at India for some time. Being a believer of a possession free lifestyle Shailene travelled with only essential clothing To her disposal. Speaking her heart out in a recent interview Woodley disclosed her take on feminism and a lot more about the growth of her character in the sequel movie The Divergent Series – Allegiant.

While travelling across India Shailene noticed a lot of bumper stickers on cars that propagated the idea ‘Saving the girl child’. This took Shailene by surprise as she confessed “Being here (America) and rooting for women and equal rights and then you go to India and every single car says, “Save a Girl” on the bumper. And you say, “What does that mean?” And you’re told, “It’s literally save a young girl’s life.” Because a lot of people who are born as women [India] don’t get the chance to live. It just puts so many things in perspective about how the work we’re doing here in America is so important because it does infiltrate down to other countries.”

Related: From Krissh to the Divergent Series - India loves Sci-Fi

Presenting our complete interview with Shailene Woodley.

1. How has your character grown and shaped up since the first installment for Divergent series?

I have relished the challenge of pushing my character toward new horizons. When we first met Tris in Divergent, she empowered herself. In Insurgent, she’s guilt-ridden and winds up being betrayed by her brother Caleb. In Allegiant, Tris goes outside of Chicago because she feels like it’s part of her destiny.

2. How was it working with Golden Globe nominated actor Jeff Daniels?

It was great to act with Jeff Daniels. Besides being incredibly professional, Jeff put a lot of his soul and spirit into this character. Also, it was nice to have a male antagonist. In the past, we only had female antagonists. Playing David, Jeff brings a different kind of dynamic to the story. You don’t quite know what his agenda is or what fuels him. At the end of this film, David leaves you wondering what he’s going to do in the next one.

3. The fact that the film is Sci-Fi, the action sequences have always been very different and interesting of the divergent series. What kind of action will be see you doing in Allegiant?

Watch Feature Trailer for The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016)

The action kicks into overdrive a few minutes into the movie when Tris and her crew use high-tech grappling hooks to scale the wall encircling Chicago. We had built a massive 80- foot wall topped with an electrified metal fence in the Bellwood Quarry near Atlanta. They put you in a harness attached to little studs and make sure that you’re all locked up. Then they pull you up and you just have to trust in the wire that’s holding you up. We’d walk right up the wall and hang there until we heard ‘Action!’ and then each take or setup captured a different particular sequence. We’d already looked at pre-vis to see the scene digitally and then we’d have to match it physically. Between set-ups, we were literally left hanging for hours (laughs)

4. The film is based on Veronica Roth’s book. How similar or close is the movie in respect the book according to you?

I think fans of the book will love the fact that this movie is similar to the book but also has a completely novel storyline in many ways. There are a lot of things in the film that Veronica Roth created, and then there are a lot of things created by the director and other people involved in the movie. I think this movie is even bigger and bolder than the first two simply because the characters encounter a world they’ve never experienced before, and that means the audience will also get to experience this world for the first time.

5. You make a lot of smaller films, took, like "The Spectacular Now" and "The Fault in Our Stars." Do you bring that experience back to a blockbuster?

You do. The other thing is, as an actor, every single piece is so different. The content and the context of different opportunities varies so wildly you're just sort of waiting to see what comes up. I would never say I would never do another franchise. I can't see myself doing another franchise, but you never know what opportunities may arise, and what you might be passionate about.

6. Why is there such an appetite for movies starring young people in dystopian futures?

I'm not sure. I think probably people have an appetite for them because it's a world we can't relate to externally, on an external environment. And yet the running theme and the values between this human experience of people in that world are identical to the running themes and values of the world in which we live right now.

7. In this and "The Hunger Games,"the protagonists are strong young women. Was that important to you?

It was absolutely important, to look at this young woman who didn't start off as a hero but through the process of being in an environment where she had to find her bravery and her courage in order to help the community around her was, I found deeply inspiring, and also important to see. We often see men in those roles, but it's not as often we see women start off weak and become strong.

8. Do you prefer big-budget films, or smaller ones?

I like to mix it up. I try not to judge whether or not I'll do a film based on the budget. I try and judge it on how I feel artistically fueled and creatively triggered by a particular project.

9. So that's how you pick and choose?

I pick and choose based on the feeling I get when I read a script. When I get the script I know immediately if it's something I want to chase after, because it fuels me and gives me butterflies I can't seem to shake. Or I know immediately it's something, even if it's a beautiful script and a beautiful character, if I don't have a reaction I know that role is meant for someone else.

10. A lot of actors say they know the perfect script when they see it, or one that's not right for them. But there must be a lot in the middle that's harder to choose. Does that ever happen?

It does, actually. It happens constantly with various different roles. There was a movie last year, I loved the script, I loved the character, I loved the director, I really wanted to do it. But I was in a place in my personal life where I wasn't feeling very well, I was overworked, I was really tired. Having to choose to give myself time to breathe and take a break and recover, again, on a personal level, instead of taking on this project that would have been an incredible experience, that was a really rough decision. But you have to take care of yourself. You can't be a very good artist if you're suffering in your own body and your own mind.

11. Are you comfortable watching yourself on-screen?

I am. It's sort of like my report card. Everyone else has their own opinions of your performance. I like to watch it and say, "Oh, I could have done that better" or, "Oh, that was actually pretty good." It's my way of judging and critiquing, so I can grow as an artist.

12. There are a lot of scenes with computer graphics in this film. When you see the finished movie, are you ever surprised by what it ends up looking like?

Absolutely. I was so surprised with this movie with the way the Bureau looked inside and whatnot. That was a total shock. I had no idea what it was going to look like.

13. There's a radiation-soaked-desert scene that's pretty cool-looking.

It was fun to do. It was fun for me because it was so different. It's always interesting and challenging to do something that you don't have the opportunity to do every single day, like stunt work, or running through red rain.

14. Can you tell when you've really nailed a scene?

There's a feeling that you get occasionally when you do a scene where you walk away and you feel so tapped in that you come out of it and you're like, "Wow, what did I just do?" And you're actually not aware of the decisions that you made because you were so committed to the moment. That's a great feeling. Whether the decisions are the right decisions or not the right decisions, knowing that you surrendered so much to the process of the character that you sort of left behind your thought process and were fully invested in the moment is a pretty special experience.