"Total film is crouching in the dark in Cinescape studios in Chicago watching Shailene Woodley and Brit Theo James get crushed in a shrinking aluminum box. As the walls close in, the duo’s limbs entwine and they breathlessly scrabble to brace the suffocating space. We know how they feel. Its muggy and airless in the former steel works building thanks to the gathering storm (a tornado is predicted to hit the windy city imminently) and tensions are high on set of what could be the nest Hunger Games. Not least because that incoming weather is cutting shooting time short today and the box (the sides pushed together in a lo-tech fashion by beefy gaffers) isn’t behaving perfectly, but also because director Neil Burger and his leads need to nail the right mix of sex and danger to make this inaugural film take off with audiences – and lay the way for a planned three-film franchise.
Based on the YA bestseller by Veronica Roth, Divergent is set 150 years in the apocalyptic future, where people are divided into factions according to their personality traits. But what if 16 year old Tris (Woodley) had the traits of all the factions and was ‘divergent’? That would make her dangerous to the governing body led by duplicitous Jeanine (Winslet), who rules by a ruthless method of divide and conquer..
“I feel sweaty and sexy,” James purrs, keeping his American accent between takes as he joins TF to contemplate the scene the duo have just filmed. Sitting close to his co-star, finishing her sentences and constantly complimenting her, the chemistry seems to be apparent both on and off-screen. So… Total Film ventures gooseberry-like, is this new world hotter than The Hunger Games?
“I think it’s sexy because its relatable,” smiles Woodley before quickly turning the conversation back to the action, “I mean, obviously its an exaggerated dystopian future..” Well indeed. And one that Burger insisted was filmed on location in Chicago, just as the book detailed. Which meant Woodley and James filmed scenes on the city’s famous Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, on the over-head trains, and within sight of the Willis Tower – all dressed to look distressed, ruined and worn.
“The vibe is this industrial feel,” says James. “There’s that essence that peppers the whole film.” Yeah, that and the sexual tension….
Total Film (transcribed by us) | Thanks to Gossipgyal for the scans