Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort
Director: Robert Schwentke
Genre: Action, Adventure
Running Time: 119 minutes
Synopsis: After being exposed as Divergents – people who don't fit neatly into one of the five societal classifications or 'factions" – Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) find themselves on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the power-hungry leader of the Erudite faction. As the traitorous Dauntless troops under Jeanine's command prowl the ruins of dystopian Chicago rounding up Divergents, Tris and Four traverse the city hoping to find allies among the Amity, Candor, Abnegation and Dauntless factions – as well as the rebellious and impoverished mass of Factionless. Although heartsick and guilt-ridden over the violent deaths of her family and friends, Tris tries to uncover the
secret her parents sacrificed their lives to protect – the very secret that explains why Jeanine will stop at nothing to capture her. Desperate to avoid causing pain to any more of her loved ones, Tris faces her darkest fears in a series of near impossible challenges as she seeks to unlock the truth about the past, and ultimately the future, of their world.
Release Date: March 19th, 2015
Tearing Up The Divergent World
The Divergent Series: Insurgent picks up three days after the end of Divergent, when Tris and Four narrowly hindered Jeanine's plot to use mind-controlled Dauntless troops to exterminate the population of Abnegation. But the victory comes at a terrible personal cost for Tris. Both her parents are killed in the battle, as is her fellow Dauntless initiate Will, whom she is forced to shoot when he attacks her under the influence of a brain-altering serum.
Like Divergent, The Divergent Series: Insurgent is set in the ruins of a futuristic, walled Chicago where survivors are divided into five factions based on their abilities, temperaments and personal preferences. Members of the Abnegation faction are selfless, Amity are peaceful, Candor are honest, Dauntless are brave and Erudite are intelligent. Those who belong to no faction are known simply as Factionless.
In the first film, Beatrice 'Tris" Prior, who grew up as Abnegation, learns through a governmentadministered aptitude test that she is Divergent, meaning she has attributes of multiple factions.
Because Divergents are independent thinkers who cannot be controlled by any faction, they are considered dangerous. Upon learning her traits put her at risk, she chooses to join Dauntless to conceal her Divergent identity. But as part of her rigorous training, she is forced to take part in hallucinatory simulations (SIMs) that reveal her unique abilities. She finds a much-needed ally"and eventually a love interest"in Tobias 'Four" Eaton, a Dauntless instructor and expert fighter who is also revealed to be Divergent.
In Insurgent, the stakes and the action are raised dramatically as Divergents are hunted throughout the city by Jeanine's brutal militias, and Tris and Four realise they must find a way to stop her. 'From the first pages of the book Insurgent, we knew that Veronica Roth must have been drinking rocket fuel when she wrote the story," says producer Douglas Wick. 'It starts with Tris being chased, and the action never lets up. We built the world in Divergent and now in Insurgent, we tear it up." At the beginning of The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Jeanine locates an elusive five-sided locked box with each side bearing the seal of each faction. She is convinced it contains a message with the key to the future which can only be unlocked by a Divergent possessing qualities of all five factions. Jeanine hunts down all the Divergents she can find and puts them through a rigorous testing process to see who can open it. They must endure five different SIMs, which are far more brutal and violent than any that appeared in Divergent.
For the filmmakers, that meant creating more eye-popping action scenes, many of which occur in the far more challenging and terrifying SIMs that Tris is forced to take part in as Jeanine seeks to unlock the secrets of the Divergents' power. This mind-bending action is just one of the aspects of The Divergent Series: Insurgent that raises the bar and accelerates Tris' exciting story that readers know and love.
'The book release of Insurgent was when the Divergent series truly took off and became a publishing phenomenon. Veronica Roth wrote a roller coaster of a book with incredible twists and turns that really captured the imagination of fans, who spread the word like wildfire," says producer Pouya Shahbazian. 'In Insurgent the city is in upheaval and new secrets are coming to light. While in the first movie, Jeanine pinpoints the Divergents as being a problem she wants to eliminate, in this movie, we learn very quickly that Jeanine is determined to capture them and use them to discover a powerful secret to which only they hold the key."
According to Veronica Roth, writing Insurgent allowed her to flesh out Tris' world in a way she wasn't able to do in Divergent, partially because the first book was written in the first person. 'It's a little bit like growing up," the author says. 'When you're a child, the world is very small, and when we get older, we realise how large the world really is. Insurgent is the world getting a little bit bigger and Tris is experiencing that in a very literal way … first it's one faction, then it's two factions, then it's the entire city of Chicago."
With Tris and Four on the run and searching for answers across the war-torn city, the audience is taken on a journey through the unique and visually arresting environments inhabited by each faction. 'In the first film, we saw these fun and visceral full-metal-jacket training sequences, but they were confined to the dark and gloomy Dauntless compound for much of the film," says Wick. 'In this movie, we start off in the beautiful lush fields, honeycomb beehive dome and signature tree of Amity. Then they travel to Factionless, where we see this curiosity of functionality and aesthetics in a wondrous, slightly enchanted and disenfranchised place. Then the characters go to Candor and we encounter what these starkly dressed, unrelentingly honest people are like, and finally we check out the depths of the Erudite world inside Jeanine's high-tech lab."
The most impressive landscapes in the film, however, may be those that take place inside Tris' mind. After a number of attacks on the factions who have provided refuge to Tris, Four and the Dauntless rebels, Tris realises that the only way to stop Jeanine from hurting anyone else is to turn herself in to Jeanine at Erudite headquarters. When she surrenders herself there, Jeanine subjects her to an increasingly intense series of SIMs. 'The SIMs are a defining characteristic of this movie in terms of style and tone," says producer Lucy Fisher. 'The internal forces influencing Tris are even more dramatic, more colourful, and more riveting than the external ones. In her SIMs, she has to contend with all of her demons and, luckily for us, director Robert Schwentke and visual-effects-maestro James Madigan concocted a way to show us what's inside Tris' head that's so visual and so exciting that even though her dreams are torturous for her, they're really exciting for us to watch."
Robert Schwentke agrees, 'The SIMs are so action-packed and so imaginative. They have taken what Veronica wrote and added to them, made them more explosive and more cinematic with the most cutting edge filmmaking technology available today."
'The Divergent Series: Insurgent is a high-octane action-adventure packed with excitement and suspense," says Erik Feig, Co-President of Lionsgate's Motion Picture Group, who also played an instrumental role in the development and production of blockbuster book-based franchises The Hunger Games and Twilight. 'It combines a riveting plot, an extraordinary cast and a lot of heart with intense stunt work and visual effects to deliver an extremely satisfying and unique movie-going experience."
To provide audiences with the ultimate way to enjoy The Divergent Series: Insurgent's mindblowing visuals and sound, Lionsgate is also releasing the film in IMAX 3D. 'The film has been digitally re-mastered using IMAX's unique, proprietary technology," said Erik Feig. 'The crystal-clear images, coupled with the large-screen format, customised theatre geometry and powerful digital audio will make audiences feel as if they are right in the middle of the incredible futuristic world the filmmakers have created."
Bringing A Worldwide Phenomenon To The Screen
The bestselling novel, Insurgent, was written by author Veronica Roth, whose first novel, Divergent, topped The New York Times Best Seller list after it was published in 2011. Divergent made NPR and Barnes & Noble's 'Best Books of 2011" list and was voted 'Favorite Book of the Year" by Goodreads members. Veronica Roth wrote the book while an undergraduate at Northwestern University. She soon followed up with Insurgent, which also hit No. 1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list. In 2013 she released Allegiant, the final book in the series, which sold 455,000 copies on its first day to break a company record for HarperCollins. Pre-orders for Allegiant exceeded those of any book in the history of HarperCollins.
As they adapt Veronica Roth's best-selling book series, the filmmakers are ever aware of the immense responsibility that comes with bringing a beloved author's work to the screen. 'The Divergent series has sold well over 30 million copies," notes Erik Wick. 'Whenever we got a little lost about what liberties to take in streamlining the story, we always remembered that Veronica Roth was the oracle. Whatever good idea any of us thought we were having, we also remembered people bought Veronica Roth's books, not ours."
According to Fisher, having Veronica Roth available to discuss production and plot issues with was priceless. 'We're very lucky to have a living author to consult with. Veronica Roth was very much a part of this process as a resource and sounding board."
Veronica Roth says she appreciates the care the producers put into adapting her work. 'Doug and Lucy have a lot of respect for the story and that's a huge asset," says the author. 'They understand what works and can pinpoint what will be difficult to translate."
Although the filmmakers made every effort to stay true to the themes and characters of the books, Veronica Roth understood that some changes needed to be made to present the 544-page novel in a two-hour movie. 'In the book, there's more freedom to do a weird structure and explain things slowly. But on screen, it has to be fast and concise and clear. I'm always really open-minded to change as long as it creates a better and stronger story. One thing that was very important to me was to ensure that the dynamic between Tris and Four remained the same, and that she is still the primary mover of the plot. And in Insurgent, it is still Tris' story."
Casting The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Golden Globe® nominated actress Shailene Woodley and Theo James return to lead the cast of The Divergent Series: Insurgent. 'One of the real accomplishments of Divergent was Tris Prior, whom Shailene Woodley created on screen," comments Erik Wick. 'As The Divergent Series: Insurgent begins, she is haunted by grief. She is a warrior consumed with survivor's guilt. Her world has crumbled. One of her first acts in the story is to cut off her hair. It's her way of physicalising her pain, it's just too much to bear.'"
'Tris is guilt-ridden," Robert Schwentke agrees. 'She's lost her mum and dad, and unfortunately, she had to shoot one of her friends to preserve her own survival and stop any further destruction of Abnegation. We find her a little bit numb and confused. She doesn't quite know exactly who she is."
Veronica Roth says each title in the series was intended to describe a different aspect of Tris. 'One of the definitions of the word -insurgent' is someone who rises up in peaceful opposition to an established authority," the author says. 'That is exactly what Tris does in Insurgent. She's traumatised from what happened at the end of the first instalment, but she has to figure out a different way of fighting the system than with a gun alone."
For Robert Schwentke, the darker quality of the second book is part of its appeal. 'The story is much more in her head, dealing with traumatic events. I really responded to that. It seemed very psychologically suspenseful. Coming back into this world again, I assumed it would be easy, because we knew the characters and story so well. But the storyline has shifted and the relationship between Tris and Four is evolving, like it does when one member of a partnership goes through something traumatic." 'I feel so lucky that Theo and I get to work together," adds Robert Schwentke. 'He's such a class act. We both have similar rhythms and ways of approaching the work. You become a family during filming and then you disperse. But in a franchise, you get to come back and have the comfort of the tribe once again." For his part, Theo James is thrilled to once again inhabit the character of Four. 'It's great to be back with Shai, because she's fun to work with and she's also a great actress," he says. 'It's fun for us to discover different things together about the characters, and different places that we want to take their unconventional relationship. They are two damaged people who are trying to struggle through a war, which makes it richer and more enticing."
Theo James' character, who is revealed to be a Divergent in the first film, evolves substantially in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. 'He can be more open, and he's fallen in love with Tris," explains the actor. 'His mother, who for years he had presumed was dead, is introduced into the story. She's going to try and coerce him into joining her as a leader of the resistance. This movie is about his mission to protect Tris and the broader society, and mixed into that are his own personal demons."
Kate Winslet's character, Jeanine, returns after suffering a devastating defeat to Tris and Four at the end of Divergent. 'Jeanine is a psychopath and probably the smartest person in the world," says producer Lucy Fisher. 'And she's been stung by a bee, so she's mad and she's motivated." Kate Winslet describes her character as 'one of those inherently terrible, awful people whose strength comes from a place that is not necessarily genuine or even remotely honest"even though she believes she is being genuine and honest. She is a strong woman who likes power and will stop at nothing in order to get more of it."
Or as Robert Schwentke puts it, 'Jeanine truly believes in using any means necessary, including torture and cruelty, to keep their society functioning. She has a passion for science and for leading the city but applies her own 'natural selection' which makes her even more sinister. The beauty of Jeanine is that she's a multi-dimensional villain. Kate Winslet is fantastic in the role"and your heroes are only as good as your villain."
Kate Winslet relished the opportunity to give audiences a closer look at Erudite and step back into Jeanine's shoes. She also loved the sleek, ominous wardrobe that helped bring her malicious character to life. 'It's been really nice being able to wear all the cut, fitted dresses that help create such an intimidating villain. It's made Jeanine feel much more powerful, cattier and nastier. It's also been great coming back together with everyone else."
Kate Winslet loves how Tris challenges Jeanine's growing wickedness with an even more intrepid resolve of her own in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. 'Tris and Jeanine's relationship has become a power game," says Kate Winslet. 'Jeanine has a very bizarre and uncomfortable fascination with and admiration for Tris because Jeanine does not have the power to do what Tris can do. She is quite awed by Tris." The filmmakers recruited an impressive trio of seasoned actors to play the faction leaders: Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer portrays the Amity head, Johanna; Academy Award® nominee Naomi Watts leads the Factionless as Evelyn; Daniel Dae Kim is Jack Kang, at the top of Candor society. 'Octavia Spencer is a fantastic actress with great energy, and she brings a certain level of integrity to Johanna. She really elevates the part," says executive producer Barry Waldman. 'When you cast somebody with that much talent, her appearance at the beginning of the film really emphasises a moment in their journey."
Veronica Roth met Spencer, who is the author of a series of books in addition to being an actress, when they were both speakers at Book Expo America. 'It was really fortuitous that Octavia would want to work on this movie because she's an extremely talented actress and I knew she would do an excellent job," comments Veronica Roth. 'And then to top it off, I saw how incredibly nice she is. During filming, she sat at lunch in the big trailer with everybody. She was so down to earth and so funny."
Johanna, whom the author describes as one of her favourite characters in the book series, has a scar on her face, a visible sign that she is a survivor of violence. 'Having been through a difficult situation, she recognises herself in people who have lived through something terrible," says Veronica Roth. 'When Tris and Four come to her for help, that's what makes her put herself and her faction at risk. A really powerful part of her character is that she doesn't entirely agree with her faction about what to do. That struggle is one of the most interesting parts about her."
The film's young leads were thrilled to work with the celebrated actress. 'Octavia is such a master at this craft because she's just so pure," says Robert Schwentke. 'When she's on camera she just simply exists, and that's the greatest gift you can give another actor." James concurs: 'Octavia Spencer was awesome and ingenious, and brought to Johanna this sense of gravitas that she naturally has."
Spencer was impressed with Robert Schwentke and James as well. 'Shailene is this down-to-earth person and possesses wonderful qualities: vulnerability, openness, approachability. You want to root for her character, Tris, you want her to win"especially since Tris lost most of her family in the first movie. Theo is a very different person from Four. He is gregarious, funny, and really off the cuff and quick. Four is very reserved and guarded and that serves him when he needs to be lethal. But when we see that window into his soul, the way Four is with Tris, we get to see just a little bit of who Theo actually is."
Fans and filmmakers alike were eager to find the actress who would play the game-changing role of Four's mother. For most of Four's life he thought his mother was dead, but early into the film, he discovers that she is alive. 'Evelyn has a very complicated relationship with her son," explains Lieberman. 'They hadn't seen each other in a long time, because she left when he was very young. Having been in the dark about her whereabouts (and intentions) for so many years, Four doesn't know if he can trust her. Does she want to re-establish a relationship with him or does she just want him to help her take down Jeanine and take control of the city?"
Two-time Oscar® nominee Naomi Watts was cast as Evelyn. 'We were really happy when Naomi came on. She plays against the cliché of -I'm the strong woman,'" says Fisher. 'She is much more mysterious than that. You're dealing with somebody who has a complicated past and has channelled it into revenge, no matter how long it will take her to execute it. You never know what she is thinking." Veronica Roth was excited to see what Watts would bring to the character, whose motives are unclear to Four – and to the audience. 'Naomi Watts is incredibly talented and I was curious what she would do with Evelyn, since you're not sure if she's a good guy or a bad guy at any given moment," the author says. 'When you meet Naomi, she's so petite and unassuming. She's quiet and clearly a very thoughtful person."
Waldman compares Watts to World War II General George Patton. 'Obviously Naomi Watts's a lot more attractive than Patton, but she also has a very commanding presence when she walks onto that set. When she struts out there in those costumes Louise found for her, it feels like she's a rock star."
'She is a little frightening," adds Veronica Roth, 'because she's leading this group of people perceived as weak and disenfranchised, and we soon see they're actually quite strong and capable of challenging the Erudite. Is the enemy of my enemy actually my friend, or just another enemy?"
For the role of Jack Kang, leader of Candor, the filmmakers had to find an actor who could credibly play someone addicted to the truth. 'We auditioned so many different people, but when Daniel Dae Kim came in we knew he embodied Jack Kang. He's perfect," states Lieberman. 'Daniel Dae Kim's got the great authoritative voice; he looks like he's in control and would tell the truth. His past roles helped him expertly plays Jack's character as vaguely intimidating, which adds some suspense to Tris and Four's first encounters with him."
Candor are not warriors or leaders – they're truth-tellers. According to Kim, 'The greatest impact that Candor has is as the moral compass of society. The Candor do not play sides for politics. They're pure in the sense that all they care about is truth."
Kim, known to television fans as Jin-Soo Kwon on Lost and Chin Ho Kelly on Hawaii Five-0, was attracted to the project for several reasons. 'I was impressed and moved that Veronica Roth decided to include an Asian-American male character in her stories," he says. 'From where I sit, there isn't a lot of representation of Asian-American males in film," Kim shares. 'I give her a lot of credit. It's not often that an author is able to so clearly describe someone of another race or gender."
Jai Courtney returns as Eric, a Dauntless leader and long-time rival to Four. In The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Eric is firmly on the side of Jeanine, helping her identify Divergents. 'This film has even more excitement," says Jai Courtney. 'It's a different landscape and the script was written to cater to the strengths of the established cast. We all know our characters really well, so there wasn't that feelingout process. This was play time!"
'Jai Courtney's performance really illustrates the miracle of casting. The character Eric is basically a thug" says Erik Wick. "But Jai has so much inner life, intelligence and humour that he makes Eric a riveting presence in the movie."
'We were very lucky to get Jai Courtney," says Fisher. 'He's becoming a giant star for one thing, but he's also really funny and smart and brings extra presence and weight and humour to everything he does. He's also really built and can do his own stunts."
The stunt coordinators were also impressed with Jai Courtney's athletic ability. 'We've seen Jai outrun all the tools we use to film actors running," laughs Darrin Prescott, stunt coordinator. 'We've had cameramen tracking him, electric grip vehicles driving next to him, octo-copters chasing him, and we've had to say to him, -Hey man, you've got to take a little off because you've left the camera behind.' He's crazy fast."
Tris' brother Caleb Prior, played by rising star Ansel Elgort, becomes more central to the plot in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. We discover that the seemingly submissive Caleb is capable of a lot more than Tris has anticipated, a character turn that will undoubtedly excite his ever-growing fanbase. 'Ansel Elgort just exploded after the first movie. He was only 19 and the way people connected with him was extraordinary," says Erik Wick. 'One of the opportunities in The Divergent Series: Insurgent was to explore the brother-sister relationship further. Even though Caleb does some pretty dastardly things, Ansel manages to convince us that he believes in some greater good, even if it's at the risk of his own sister's life."
Ansel Elgort relished the opportunity to share screen time with actresses Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet. 'Shai and I have worked together recently on the Divergent movies and The Fault in our Stars. She is the best young actress around right now, so I couldn't be happier. And Kate Winslet's obviously a legend."
Miles Teller had a great time reprising his role as the villainous Peter and enjoyed the chance to give audiences an even closer look at his complicated character in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Miles Teller explains that Peter wants to align himself with power, and so, lets himself be drawn to Jeanine. But, he says, 'Peter eventually gets belittled and tossed aside by Jeanine, and that doesn't sit well with him."
'Peter's cockiness comes from a place of insecurity," adds Miles Teller. 'But he's fun because he enjoys giving Tris a hard time and that's important. You can't have everybody just talking about Divergents and factions all the time. You need to have an instigator."
Zoë Kravitz returns as Tris' best friend Christina, who must forgive Tris for a terrible secret that has come between them. 'Everyone's in a chaotic place," says Zoe Kravitz. 'If we weren't outcasts before, we are definitely outcasts now. At first Christina finds comfort that Tris is alive, but she also feels betrayed by her, not only because of what she finds out happened to Will during Jeanine's mind control simulation, but because Tris kept it from her. In Divergent, Christina is often the comic relief. She's very funny and sarcastic. In this film, you see a darker side of her."
Maggie Q is pleased with the evolution of her character, Tori, in the new film. 'Tori was the unwilling mentor to Tris in the first film," she comments. 'Now you see her in a less mysterious light. She's at Candor headquarters when Four and Tris seek asylum there and are reunited with their old comrades from the first film. Everyone's been on the run, so in this film, we really see Tori's dedication to get on board with Tris and Four in the rebellion."
Another long-time Dauntless member is Max, played by Mekhi Phifer, who along with Eric has now sided with Jeanine. 'Max and Eric storm Amity, checking to see if anyone is Divergent and audiences really get to see what evil they are capable of. I like playing the bad guy, even though I'm a good guy in real life," laughs Mekhi Phifer. 'In the film, we have this new portable scanner that can test on the spot to see if people are Divergent," he explains. 'We have this intimidating conversation with Octavia's character, who's wonderful, about how we're going to test all of her people in Amity. Of course, as their leader, she wants to protect them from us, and an intense struggle ensues."
Abnegation leader and father of Four, Marcus Eaton, played by Ray Stevenson, starts the movie having taken refuge with his son and Tris in Amity. There, as a true politician, he quickly ingratiates himself with Spencer's Johanna. 'Ray is one of my favourite actors and working with him, as the reserved leader of Abnegation, was so much fun. Before we started some scenes, he would serenade me!" laughs Spencer.
Several other new young faces are introduced in this instalment of the Divergent franchise. Up-andcoming leading man Jonny Weston plays a cunning revolutionary named Edgar who is Evelyn's second in command of the Factionless. The Edgar character is a new addition to the series, and although he is not featured in Insurgent, he plays an integral role in the film. 'Edgar rose through the Factionless ranks and became Evelyn's right hand [man]," says Weston about his position in the Factionless. 'But now that Four has appeared, Edgar feels the threat of losing the position he has held all along, which causes him to instigate a separation within the Factionless."
The Divergent Series: Insurgent will also introduce audiences to Keiynan Lonsdale, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony and Suki Waterhouse, who play Dauntless rebels beloved by fans of the Divergent trilogy. Their characters are part of the army that escapes Dauntless to unite against Jeanine. 'Uriah, played by Keiynan Lonsdale, was one character from Divergent whom we were unable to include in the first movie because we had too many characters," says Fisher. 'There were so many fans who were vocally disappointed because they loved this character, and so did we. We did a huge casting search for Uriah. We were slightly nervous when Keiynan's role was announced because the fans had been so rabid about Uriah, who is also Divergent like Tris, but we hit the jackpot with him." 'Only after I actually landed the role did I learn what the fans were saying about Uriah," admits Keiynan Lonsdale. 'This is the first project that I've done that has a built-in fan base. I read the books, so I understand it. I did feel the pressure. I want to do the character justice."
'A week after arriving from Australia, I was on a rooftop in downtown Atlanta shooting a gun for the first time," Keiynan Lonsdale continues. 'Then I got shot myself, and all this glass was exploding, everything's crazy. It was so cool to be above downtown, shooting these amazing scenes and bringing this beloved character to life."
Veteran actors Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn as well as Ben Lloyd-Hughes appear briefly in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, even though their characters were killed in Divergent.
'My character, Natalie Prior, dies in her daughter's arms in Divergent," says Ashley Judd. 'One thinks Natalie has passed from this world, but in the world of Veronica Roth's extraordinary imagination, nothing is as it seems. So in this film, Tris gets to re-experience me, but not via the typical storytelling device of a flashback. My appearance as well as her father's and her friends' appearances are embedded within this extraordinary world of Tris' interior psychological landscape."
Cast members were impressed with the new director's attention to character while creating a big, action-filled film. 'Robert Schwentke is incredibly collaborative and he's keen on making sure that the first movie is honoured, but at the same time he's imprinting his own voice and colours onto this film. Not an easy task, but he's doing it gracefully," comments Shailene Woodley. 'Even though this is an action movie, he's committed to the truth of the characters of Tris and Four. He doesn't really have an ego, which is very rare to find. He's a true artist."
Co-star James agrees, 'As much as we loved working with Neil Burger, it's nice to have a new perspective that injects the project with a different flavour. Robert Schwentke's quite emotional, which is good because he's great at carrying on the narrative's character through lines within the action in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. With all the fun and the gloss of an adventure movie, character is important because there are places they're going to go. Robert Schwentke has done that really well, not only for Shailene Woodley and me, but for Miles' and Ansel's characters as well."
'I have been so blown away by working with Robert Schwentke," comments Kate Winslet. 'I'm a huge fan of Red; I thought that was such a wonderful movie. But I didn't really know anything about Robert Schwentke at all. I arrived and this lovely German man started giving me great direction immediately. His ownership of this second movie was very reassuring. This is a man who's done his homework. He knows exactly the type of story he's telling and how he wants it to feel, visually and emotionally."
One big change since the first film is that many of the cast members have become full-blown movie stars after appearing in Divergent. 'You hire people because you think they're the best actors around, and rarely do you get to be so right in casting the coolest young people," comments Erik Wick. 'It was an extraordinary thing on Divergent that six of them went on and got the leads in other movies. We got a really good measure of luck in casting the first film."
A World At War: Creating Insurgent Chicago In Atlanta
The sequel's more elaborate sets, wider variety of detailed costumes and bigger action sequences were designed to immerse moviegoers in a world at war in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, as well as thrust them into the more intense and dangerous SIMs.
The five factions of this future society are Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, Amity and Candor. Though still set in a future walled-in Chicago, the production was based in film-friendly Atlanta. 'One of the challenges was finding very distinct looks as we go from faction to faction," says executive producer Todd Lieberman. 'We start in lush Amity, which is outside and beautiful; we go to the eclectic Factionless, which is mostly interior, featuring metal and concrete; and then we go to black-and-white Candor, which has clean lines and reflective surfaces."
Production designer Alec Hammond observes, 'The Divergent Series: Insurgent is really five films in one. You have to shift gears completely for the look of each faction, as they all have different rules." Filmmakers actually created three full-sized, 360-degree environment builds: Amity, Factionless and Erudite, plus dozens of smaller-scale sets. 'Chicago was not fully explored in the first film. We primarily saw only the Abnegation village and Dauntless Pit, as well as little bits and pieces of Erudite," comments Hammond. 'During production of the first movie, the third book had not yet been written. We had a great advantage in designing this film knowing the full breadth of the novels. We were able to give each portion its own visual character, from the architecture to the clothes to the props."
World-renowned costume designer Louise Mingenbach oversaw a massive costume department. 'Establishing each of these worlds, we had to dress upwards of 400 extras to create the feeling of each of these factions. That meant we needed about 700 costumes multiplied by five," estimates Louise Mingenbach. 'I enjoyed the challenge of working in each faction's restricted colour scheme, which was something I'd never done."
Lieberman adds, 'Robert Schwentke wanted to put his own stamp on the costumes, and the intent was to differentiate each faction, but not have all of the people within each faction dress the same. Amity has earth tones, Candor has blacks and whites, Dauntless has blacks and silvers, Erudite has blues, but when we go to Factionless, it's a hodgepodge. Louise has done a really fantastic job of being stylish and modern, but at the same time fitting within the palette of those factions."
Peaceful Amity: Launching into the Action
The film starts with a palette of earth tones including saffron, yellows, khakis, ochres, sienna, browns and maroons. 'Much of the action in Divergent took place in darker places, like the Dauntless Pit," comments Erik Wick. 'We were so happy that Veronica started the book in this bright, rustic Amity, so we could open the film with sunshine and beauty in the middle of Tris' nightmare. That contrast was great. Part of the way to build on the original film was to show lighter parts of the world."
Octavia Spencer, whose character Johanna plays the leader of Amity who grants the heroes refuge inside the faction's peaceful farm, says, 'The scope of Amity is epic – one of my favourite sets that I've ever been on, with a massive green meadow and beautiful farmlands. We have this gorgeous geo-dome built around this majestic tree. Amity is very different from what you see in the other factions. Our colours are bright, earthy, gold and reds for very sunny people. I love that; it's breathtaking."
Filmmakers had six weeks, hampered by spring rain, to create the 13-acre Amity set inside an established rural community. Over 200 workers of every type of craft worked seven days a week on three major structures: constructing the signature Amity Dome with the tree centrepiece, building a crumbling concrete freeway overpass, and altering the existing horse stable. All the while, dozens of greens crewmembers planted vegetables, flowers and grass crops, and covered parking areas and sidewalks with tons of organic material.
'The idea was to be able to film 360 degrees around, run all over the place, drive trucks through our set," says art director Alan Hook. 'We had drones out there filming and huge scoping cranes. The dome was a huge wood and glass structure: 65 feet tall and 100 feet around. We need all of this at the top of the shooting schedule, so pulling it all off in time was probably the biggest nail-biter on the show. We worked on the dome right up until the morning that it was shot."
'Robert Schwentke was very clear early on that the first set needed to have a wow factor," adds Alan Hook. 'The audience needed to come over that rise, look out under the broken-down expressway, over the field, and see the dome. Our heroes have just run through the woods and the first thing they see needs to be a big visual statement. I'm proud of the dome and the team who created it."
Tris' sunny Amity wardrobe was also in contrast to her turmoil. 'I showed Robert Schwentke 50 or 60 ideas for Amity women," remembers Mingenbach. 'In the first movie, you only see bits of Amity. This time Robert and I talked about opening up the palette, seeing more skin, and putting more variety in their costumes. That's also how we found the look for Naomi Watts in Factionless, as well as Tris' main costume."
'The key to the Amity set design is the crumbling concrete overpass in view of the dome and the barn. You have to see that Amity is an artificial society superimposed on what was there before," says Hammond. 'In our research phase Robert Schwentke found a photo of two girls on a swing underneath an overpass. We used that image early in the film because it created the right juxtaposition – a sense of Eden where you never forget that this is a ruined world."
Johanna's barn loft office, facial scar and flowing costumes helped Octavia Spencer find her character, who has chosen to make peace the main value of her life. Set decorator Kathy Lucas and her team spent weeks scouring the Georgia countryside for the many textured and weathered pieces of one-of-a-kind furniture for the office. That style 'happens to be a chic interior design motif right now, so we were able to find stuff that looked reclaimed, or was," says Lucas. 'Also some very talented local set dressers actually built a lot of the furniture."
Prosthetics makeup artist Margie Kaklamanos was flown in to create the character's signature facial scar. 'We did quite a few makeup tests before we started filming," says Octavia Spencer. 'Getting the scar applied definitely takes me out of Octavia's world into Johanna's world. There is a story behind that scar, which she wears like a badge of honour, and it brings me to who the character is."
In addition to the massive sets and incredible costumes and makeup, for this instalment, Hammond and his art department also designed new vehicles and weapons, which played heavily in the heroes' escape and chase from Amity. The 55,000-pound military vehicles that carry Max and Eric to find the rebels in Amity had recently been decommissioned as troop carriers in Afghanistan.
Robert Schwentke insisted on verisimilitude when it came to weaponry as well. 'Robert wanted his guns to actually fire," says Hammond. 'He wanted to see the recoil, the muzzle flash and the shells ejecting. We redesigned the weapons from scratch based on existing weapons systems, and we had casings made that fit onto real firearms."
The Divergent Series: Insurgent team also designed a cargo train on which to stage a fight when Tris, Four and Caleb first encounter the Factionless. 'Our mission was to put a phenomenal fight scene together," states Prescott. 'We always adapt to the environment and the side-by-side train cars were a unique, cool place to stage a fight"we could bring guys in and out, hang them off fabric, and use the train and the sliding doors as weapons."
'Inside the train, we created layers, nooks, crannies and levels to give the stunts a playground," says Hook. And while Tris, Four and Caleb's safety is so tenuous on board, audiences will be waiting in suspense to see if the Factionless compound they are headed to will prove an even more dangerous refuge.
Factionless: A Secret World
As Roth explains, 'Abnegation believe in selflessness, Candor believe in honesty, Dauntless are into bravery, Erudite value intelligence, and Amity value kindness, peacefulness and friendship. A person still in the faction system believes that to be Factionless means to be without community, to be disenfranchised and on your own, and a failure in the most essential way. But, to someone who is Factionless, it means freedom."
'The Amity palette was specific, but the Factionless palette is all over the place," comments Hammond. 'One of the main challenges was making Factionless into something. We realise they may have been homeless at one point, but they're far from that now. We discovered that they're actually as well organised as any faction."
The four-story-high Factionless set filled an entire warehouse space and continued outside into the parking lot. 'Factionless is another showcase of Alec Hammond's incredible production design. It's colourful, it's full of life, it's a little steampunk, it's got a retro feel, and it's teeming with life. It's just a beautiful set," comments Lieberman.
'Factionless is the one place in Divergent Chicago where we see art, graffiti, murals and individual expressions of colour in their living spaces and their clothes," adds Hammond.
The interior portion consists of concrete cubbies, each with a different apartment and its own unique story inside. The set also features a full-sized scrap-wood house dropped in the middle of all the concrete features, home to Factionless leader Evelyn. 'The world has been meticulously mapped out – each character has such specificity to the props and set dressing in their environment," says Lieberman.
Naomi Watts, who plays Evelyn, agrees. 'The Factionless set was incredible, especially the way they have built something out of nothing, recycling old junk," says the actress. 'I brought my boys to set once and they still talk about it to this day. I loved working there. I would have brought some pieces home with me if I could."
In addition to the individualized cubbies, filmmakers designed a new logo that appears as graffiti and new tattoos for the Factionless. But it was their clothes that provided the biggest expression of their individuality. 'We saw Factionless only briefly as homeless people in the first movie, but they play very strongly in this film," says Mingenbach. 'An important story point is that they are these superstrong,
creative characters, and we expressed that with stronger colours and more outlandish clothes at home.
'Evelyn's signature item started as a vintage jacket with a bit of white detailing at the edges," she continues. Producer Douglas Wick suggested throwing paint on the jacket to add contrast. 'We ended up throwing bleach at it, a pretty scary thing to do, but it looked fantastic. It's so nice to have producers who are involved and interested. I don't know if I would have thrown bleach at a one-of-akind jacket on my own," she laughs.
To film the turning point where Tris decides to save her allies by turning herself in to Jeanine, filmmakers shot a scene where Tris walks from Factionless to Erudite. To capture her courageous journey, filmmakers arranged a brief shoot in Chicago, which involved opening all the bridges over the Chicago River simultaneously. 'Tris is journeying across the city to give herself up to Jeanine and we realised this is a moment where we could really show off Chicago," reveals Hook. 'One of the defining elements in the city is the river with its bridges. In the film, Lake Michigan has dried up and so has the river; so we have Tris walk right down the middle of the Chicago River."
To accomplish this, production worked with the Coast Guard to hold boat traffic and the Department of Transportation to coordinate all of the bridges. 'The Chicago River is in the middle of the city. It intersects Michigan Avenue and is the busiest and most tourist-filled area, so we couldn't have done it without tremendous cooperation from the city," says supervising location manager, Janice Polley.
On top of Candor
Insurgent clearly states that Candor Headquarters is located within the landmark Chicago Merchandise Mart. To create Candor in Atlanta, filmmakers used the rooftop patio of Atlanta's AmericasMart for the attack, and a spacious, glassed portion of the interior of the top floor to build Jack Kang's office.
Polley notes, 'The actual Merchandise Mart in Chicago is about the size of a New York City block and it's right next to the Chicago River. There's absolutely no comparison in size to any building in Atlanta. Using the AmericasMart buildings was challenging because in the attack sequence, stuntmen were zip lining from another 26th floor rooftop over to our 22nd floor rooftop over Peachtree Street. For safety we had to get permission to shut down the biggest street running through downtown Atlanta."
The Candor attack sequence was complicated for other reasons as well, explains Wade Allen. 'The roof of Candor Headquarters is being assaulted from three separate surrounding rooftops, with harpoon lines across the void. We had guys rappelling off the buildings and up to six people at a time zip lining while firing weapons across a 300-foot-tall gap in the buildings. Great fun for a stunt team." An additional set for the Candor assembly forum was built at the new OFS production facility in Norcross, Georgia. 'The truth-telling set was an example of a creative solution to a potentially expensive challenge," says Lieberman. 'In the scene, Four and Tris have to bare their souls in front of the entire faction, after they've taken this truth serum. In the book, the space is described as a stadium-seating arena lecture hall, and we were having a lot of trouble finding that available in Atlanta, so Alec and Robert decided to do something completely different. They came up with this truth-telling pod, which is all mirrors. The conceptual idea is that once you go inside you can't turn anywhere without looking out at other people, and at the same time seeing yourself. It embodies the idea of vulnerability. That mirrored set is one of those instances where the space really embodies the feel of what you want."
Jack Kang's glass office to the truth-telling pod embody what the Candor faction stand for: being able to see through lies and the vulnerability one feels when telling the truth to others by having to look at yourself.
Inside Erudite: Testing Tris
The third large build of the production was the Erudite headquarters (which included Jeanine's laboratory, a control room, holding cells and hallways) and it was constructed in the entirety of Stage 10 at Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta.
The lab was the most complicated set to build, according to construction coordinator Greg Callas, in part because it has no straight lines. 'The walls and ceiling are all curved and whenever you come to a corner there are often compound angles," says Callas. 'My crew drilled 10,000 holes in the walls for the tubes and each of the drill angles had to be perfect."
'Erudite's main lab can almost be described as a fishbowl but in fact it's a giant 10,000-square-foot set with bulletproof glass and 16 projectors creating a lighting environment," says Waldman. 'As an audience member, you'll want to buckle in and get ready to enjoy really cool stuff that you haven't seen before."
One of the storytelling hurdles the filmmakers had to overcome in the lab is the change in point of view from Tris in the SIM and Jeanine watching Tris perform in the SIM, says Hammond. 'We wanted to come up with a way that you could see the physical externalisation of the SIM in the actual lab space."
Filmmakers used a combination of practical effects on set and visual effects in post to create black tentacles by which Divergent test subjects were suspended mid-air in the glass room. 'Tris floats from the tentacles, thus being able to show her body movements that match what's happening in the SIM," explains Hook.
Hammond adds, 'We filled the main lab with almost 10,000 high-tech-feeling glass tubes that shift in colour and intensity. A series of projectors light up the back of the tubes to show perspective changes. We were able to undulate the surface and actually show an evolution as Tris was completing the SIMs. The room changed with Tris' emotions inside the SIM. For example, if she was in distress the room could echo that."
Technicians outside the glass enclosure also monitored the Divergent in the SIMs with hologram workstations, which were added in post-production. 'We tried to do something where we almost felt the lab was inside of a computer, since for much of it we're inside Tris' head," says Hook. 'We married those three layers"the tentacles, the lighted walls and the holograms"to make the concept clearer."
The key prop in Jeanine's lab was invented as a storytelling device, creating the film's cliff-hanger. 'The box was actually one of the trickier design elements," says Hammond. 'Jeanine's ultimate goal is to open the box, and she'll stop at nothing to figure out what's inside."
'The design of the box went through many different incarnations. There were lots of questions to answer in the design process," says Waldman. 'When does it light up? Does it have twinkly lights? Blue lights? Red lights? What is the texture?"
The objective, according to Wick, was to create an object that balanced the sense of something ancient with the idea of a flourishing technological society.
'We ended up with the five-sided pentagonal solid with one of the five factions represented on each of the sides," explains Hammond. 'They did a beautiful job with the gold paint; the tarnishing and aging has a bit of iridescence. Our prop master Sean Mannion worked with artisans in Los Angeles on the final version. From our 3D print they made a mould, cast it in fiberglass and resin, and then bolted all of the LEDs and light-up panels in place."
Defy Reality: Inside the SIMs
'The stakes are higher in The Divergent Series: Insurgent," says 2nd Unit Director/VFX Supervisor James Madigan. 'Tris isn't in real jeopardy when she goes into the SIMs the first movie, she could just say -this isn't real' and crack the code, but in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, if she dies in a SIM, she actually dies."
In order to open the box, Tris must pass the SIMs for Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation, Erudite and Amity by demonstrating bravery, honesty, selflessness, intelligence and peacefulness.
Creating the simulations required a combination of live-action footage involving elaborate stunts and practical effects, and spectacular post-production visual effects. 'We started our conversations on this film talking about the SIMs because they are the hardest puzzles to solve, but also the greatest opportunity," says Hammond.
'The first movie gave the audience a glimpse of what the SIMs could be, but now with Erudite's radical tactics, they've become fully evolved," states Waldman. 'The amazing part of working with visual directors like Robert Schwentke is that they take reality up to level 10. You want the audience to sometimes wonder if it's real."
The Amity SIM begins with Tris falling mid-air through the city centre. Everyone has those falling dreams where you're falling in a way that is horrifying but also slow and never-ending," comments Madigan. 'When we started exploring different ideas in pre-viz, we realised the SIMs gave us a great opportunity to relay the emotional content needed inside fantasy elements. We knew the SIMs were a great chance to show Tris' emotional struggle and take a deeper look at what she was internalizing. There are no rules here, just her emotions and her struggle to survive."
Beyond the Wall to Allegiant
'In Insurgent, we're starting to see the incredible upheaval of the faction system, while Jeanine is trying to keep everything under control," says Veronica Roth. 'By the end, everything's completely a mess and it's really unclear what is going to happen from here. But I will say the big exciting thing about what happens next is that we get to see what's outside the fence. In Allegiant, we get to follow Tris and Four into a place unlike anything they've ever known and unlike anything that we've seen." ly.
Release Date: March 19th, 2015