A bunch of bloggers including PagetoPremiere, Hypable, That’s Normal, Fangirlish, The Fandom and Teen.com along with Divergent fansites I Am Divergent and Divergent Fans exclusively interviewed Veronica Roth at Lionsgate headquarters. Page to Premiere has provided all of the questions and answers.
Veronica Roth talks Allegiant, the Divergent film and her love for Harry Potter. A few of the questions are below.
Q: Can you describe Theo James as Four in four words?
A: In four words?
Q: See the pun there?
A: Let me think. Okay. So…handsome, intense, and sensitive. And, I don’t know, badass? Is that good?
Q: What was your first reaction after you read the script?
A: I think reading a script is a really interesting… I’ve never read a script before. I was really impressed by how closely it stuck to the general plotline of the book. I haven’t read the updated script. I have been told that it transformed in a really positive way, and from what I saw on set it was developing quite nicely. It was surprisingly positive because I was expecting to feel, you know, very personally insulted. But I didn’t feel that way at all.
Q: What’s the mood been like on set so far? How much time have you spent on it?
A: I have only been there one day. But from what I can see it’s just really interesting to see how the actual actor relationships reflect the character relationships. So like all the young initiates have a great camaraderie with each-other and they seem really excited. I met behind the scenes people, like the guys who built the set and the women who are making the costumes and the guys making the costumes as well. And they are really, I don’t know, everyone seems really positive and pumped up and excited to be figuring out the details of the world. So it’s been good.
Q: Was Allegiant always the title or did you go through different ideas?
A: I did not go through different ideas. It was always Allegiant. It was always the title.
Q: So were you laughing when these ideas kept coming up ending in ENT and you were like…
A: I knew the truth. I wasn’t laughing cause in the very early stages I thought it could be one of those words. I remember looking up a list of the 36 words in the English language that rhyme with Divergent. I really don’t know what to do here, cause Assurgent was never going to be the word I chose. So, I wasn’t laughing. I was laughing when they put DETERGENT into that [announcement video]. YES! It’s permeated the public consciousness.
Q: How has it felt seeing the characters that were once in your brain come to life, with these actors, some of them being Oscar nominated. Has it been surreal or is it exactly how you pictured it?
A: I think I would be a little disappointed if it was exactly how I pictured it. Then there is no reinterpretation. No new discovery. And what I was most concerned about when they were casting was finding actors that could capture the internal world of the character as opposed to exactly matching the description that I wrote. And in that sense its been really amazing because when I was watching them act I was like YES, this is it. This is the person. You did such a good job. Even with people who I was on the fence with I was really swayed by the end of the day. They’ve done a good job. I mean I have been overwhelmingly positive on twitter and online, and it’s because I feel overwhelmingly positive about it. If I wasn’t feeling that way I would probably just be quiet.
Q: Is there a certain scene that you are excited to see come to life?
A: Oh man. So many of them. I am excited to see some of the more intense moments. You know, the deaths. It sounds morbid, but I think those, especially like Tris’s mom, you know that’s like such a formative experience for Tris and I am interested to see how it’s realized. See if I cry even though I have read it like 100’s of times and like wrote it.
Q: I know you can’t probably give us too many spoilers, but what kind of tidbits can you share from Allegiant?
A: What can I share? God… is there anything I can share? I’m trying to think. I can’t say very much. I think the things that you expect to learn more about, you do. So, you will find out who this Edith Prior person is and how they are related.
Q: So, questions will be answered?
A: Yes. I try very hard to answer all the questions I thought readers were likely to have. Those are the questions I set up and those were the questions I had when I was writing so…
Q: What does the word allegiant mean to you?
A: To me it means one who is loyal or faithful to a particular cause or person.
Q: Will you ever write from Four or any other character’s point of view?
A: I wouldn’t rule it out as far as sort of like, side material. Sort of like Free Four was. What I discovered when I wrote Free Four was its incredibly difficult to write a scene from another character’s perspective, because you have to keep consulting the original to make sure that it lines up. Then you have to keep the whole frame of the story in mind. It was so hard that I was like I don’t know if I could ever do it as a full length thing. It was fun, but yeah, it’s definitely a challenge.
Q: When you were on set did any of the actors come to you and have questions about what they should be doing?
A: I actually had a fairly long conversation with Miles Teller about Peter. It was really interesting. I think it was because Peter’s a little confusing as a character and definitely one of the stranger characters. I explained some things to him, and he was interested in seeing and figuring that out. I talked to Theo a little bit about Four and Shailene a little bit about Tris. I am sure more of those conversations will happen.
Q: If you were going to place yourself in the Divergent story which character do you think that you would see yourself as?
A: Oh God. What a question. I don’t know. I would probably be one of the side people, like Susan.
Q: So then are you Divergent? Or what Faction do you see yourself a part of?
A: That’s an interesting question. I used to think I would choose dauntless. I think that’s just like a desire, like a lot of people have. Like “Oh yes, I get to be a bad-ass.” But I’m not. So, I’d actually choose Abnegation. I’m a hufflepuff so it seems…
Q: Is it like a dream come true as an author to have a movie with Kate WInslet in it? What was that moment for you when you were like ‘OMG this is, like, super legit’?
A: When they told me they were talking to her, I was like pshh… like that’s gonna happen! I don’t believe anything until it’s actually like official. Then when it was officiaI, I had a little panic attack. ‘OMG it’s really happening!’ The official strategy is defensive pessimism, always. But lately I have been allowing myself to get a little more excited.
Q: Going back to Allegiant a little bit, for any book you write, what’s your favorite part of the writing process?
A: That’s a good question. I like revision. Cause my rough drafts are like an insane, word vomit mess. Just gross, awful. Terrible. So what I really love is getting really good notes, which I have gotten, and totally ripping it apart and putting it back together. Finding the story that I really originally wanted to tell. I especially love late stage revisions where you are fixing little things and you start to see what its going to look like as a finished story. It’s really amazing.
Q: News broke on twitter that Uriah is not going to be in the movie and fans are going crazy. Can you comment on that at all?
A: I will say, its obviously super disappointing when your fan favorite doesn’t make it into the first movie. But I will say that I am comforted that they didn’t slap-dash cast someone. I am happy that they are going to take their time casting someone for the second and the third who will be able to do justice to the role. I mean, yeah, that’s how I feel about that.
Q: After we read Insurgent, it kind of turned the whole story on it’s head. Can we expect that level of shock in Allegiant?
A: I can’t anticipate how you are going to react to, I think somethings will be shocking and some things will be like “Ahhh.” Yeah.
Q: On set, were you able to see kinda first hand the chemistry between Four and Tris in real life? Like is it really happening?
A: Yes. Actually when I saw the screen test I pulled away and I went like this (wipes brow). It was really good. There is a reason they cast him.
Q: What scene did you see when they were filming?
A: It was not… oh you mean on set?
A: It was the knife throwing scene. So, not really a great opportunity to see like romantic tension. But it was a great day to be there. I have written that scene from two perspectives.
Q: You said in your latest blog that what you want to write about has changed. If you can “dream write” whatever you want, what would you write?
A: I think when I said that I was talking more about, the same world, the same kind of story. But I think the third book – now I can say the title! Allegiant. – I think Allegiant is different just in some of the things that it tackles. I think Divergent and Insurgent are heavy action, pretty violent books. The third book has action, its not like “not actiony.” But a lot of my interest has kind of moved toward the societal struggles that are happening and the kind of wrestling that Tris is doing inside her head. So that’s kind of more what I was referring to. I am an action girl. I still love action. I think it’s a little more balanced now.
Q: Can you talk about Neil’s vision for the film vs. yours, and what matches there and what doesn’t?
A: I was worried that the kind of overall visual sense of the movie would be too futuristic sexy, you know? Sleek and shiny. That’s not like the world of Divergent. Everything’s kind of falling apart, and I think that he definitely did that, which I was really happy about. I mean the visuals that I have seen have kind of been in that vein and that’s been really exciting. He’s got a really detail oriented mind. You know everything, down to all the little details that I saw, that are so well thought out, and I think, the kind of, I am trying to find the right word… the kind of philosophy of the world. He and I talked for hours. He asked me so many questions. Things I had never thought of. Like, ‘How does commerce work in this particular faction?’ I was like, I don’t know! ‘Where were you when I was writing the book?’ So, those conversations were really reassuring because he was so interested in every little thing. I think that definitely comes across.
Q: Talking about the actors, which actor do you think was cast the best to your vision of the character?
A: That’s a good question. Who is the best? Actually I think Theo is the closest to how I imagined four. Also I think Maggie Q as Tori is really spot on. I mean I have seen her on Nikita. She’s already Dauntless! It’s all there.
Q: And what do you think makes Shailene great for Tris? What she brings to the character.
A: Shailene brings reality to Tris. Tris is like kind of an impetuous 16 year old. She’s kind of a harsh personality with vulnerability. I think all the shades of what Tris is, is what Shailene is able to do just in very small moments. She’s pretty subtle too, so that’s been great. Even though she’s not a tiny blonde girl she just is the character. She seems like a real person who is actually having those struggles. I wasn’t that surprised because I know she’s a great actress. I saw her in The Descendants. I just didn’t think anyone would be able to do it because Tris is so dear to me. Even though I wanna punch her sometimes.
Q: Obviously this is gonna open it up to such a new audience of people. People who haven’t read the books are gonna get to see the film. What is it like to have the last book coming out closing the story, when all these new people are going to be starting it?
A: It’s a little weird actually. Cause a lot of people are asking me about Divergent and I am like ‘Ah man, that was so long ago!’ Sometimes I don’t remember the details. But it’s incredible, obviously, to see so many people gravitating towards the books. I think over time, I kinda convinced myself after the first burst of readership that, that would be it. We’d be like ‘Here we are initiates, like just you and me!’ But it keeps continuing to grow and that’s amazing. I am glad I finished the third book before a lot of this. Like, before the movie stuff started, so I would still imagine the characters the way I had without that changing. It’s been good to see it grow.
Q: Divergent has such a strong fan base, do you have something that you feel you were a super fangirl about like media wise, in that same respect?
A: I mean, Harry Potter! I have a wand. I am going to Comic-Con this year, and I was really thinking about making myself some robes. I am a big fan of that.
Head on over to Page to Premiere to read the whole Q&A. Trust me you want to.