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‘DIVERGENT’ director Neil Burger talks Shailene Woodley and train jumping!

Neil  Burger spoke with Vulture about filming Divergent, power of Shailene Woodley and more.

What would be in your fear landscape?
Just directing a fear landscape! [Laughs.] Trying to figure out the best way to do it! Yeah, that was one of my favorite things going into it, because inLimitless, I had explored some of those trippy effects, psychotropic mindscapes, where we’re trying to represent them in the world of the mind. So I thought this was an opportunity to take it one step further. So the first idea was the aptitude test, to do that infinity mirror room, which is something I had played around with in Limitless as well, and then we were able to do it in a really cool way in this. And then with the birds, it’s like trying to envision what’s your worst nightmare, and what’s really the logic of a dream?

One of Tris’s fears is about intimacy with Four, and Shailene has great chemistry with Theo James. What was it like determining that, testing the two of them together?
It was incredible, actually. We did a worldwide search for Four, and so when we finally found Theo, I saw him, I met him, I thought he was great, and then we put him in a room with Shailene, and did a screen test. And I knew immediately, because they just had this electricity, this energy, where she’s a really strong actress, and it can sometimes overwhelm the actor she’s playing against, because she is so good and she is so powerful, but not here. He was the one that was sort of intimidating her, which was the perfect dynamic for their relationship. She was really infatuated with him, and he was sort of intrigued by her, and it was perfect. I always wonder, because people keep asking me, “Are they together? They’re a couple, aren’t they?” And I’m like, “You know what? They should be.”

Have you read Allegiant yet?
Of course I have, yeah. [Laughs.] I know! I saw that story plastered all over the web — “Neil Burger hasn’t read Allegiant yet,” which always invites death threats, you know. [Laughs.]

Sorry! But because you hadn’t read it when we last talked, you mentioned that you went to Veronica Roth to clue you in before it came out, so you could revise Divergent accordinglyWhat changes did you make based on those conversations?
I’ll tell you this — when I first got the script of the movie and came on to it, it was kind of sketchy. There were some scenes that weren’t in the script, the zip line, or Christina hung out over the chasm by Eric, and I thought, “Those haveto be in the movie.” They’re such iconic scenes. And I understood why they tried to cut them out when they were developing the script, but they had to be in there. So often, it was trying to fight to get everything into the movie, which was the real challenge.

With Veronica, I was asking her lots of questions about the world, why was it the way it was, and what was going on. I wanted them to go outside the wall. I was thinking that for the end of the movie, I should have them go through the fence, and outside the fence, which in a way they do. And when Four brings the Initiates to visit the fence, they climb up and they look out, and they sort of speculate on what’s out there. And Tris turns to Four and says, “Do you know?” And I wrote something, that he had been out there, that he had ventured out, and wasn’t going to tell what he saw. I asked Veronica, “What if he had been out? What do you think?” And she said, “I don’t think he could have been out there to any degree, venturing into the world, just because of what happens in the third book.”

If the zip line and the Christina-chasm scenes weren’t in the original script, what about Edward’s eye getting poked out?
Not only was that something else that I put back in — and we shot it — but we took it out. We had to keep it moving, and that was a really painful thing to cut, but we did shoot it, and it’s a great scene. It’s one of those things in movie-making, to make the whole better, you sometimes have to kill some of these. It’s called killing your babies.

Let’s talk about the train jumping. What was that like to shoot?
That was one of the bigger challenges to do. I wanted it as much as possible to be real, with the stunts, with everything, with the train. I didn’t want a train sitting stationary on a soundstage, with them jumping on and off against green screen. So we built our own train car, we laid out hundreds of feet of train track, and we also had them climb the real L-tracks. That’s not what they do in the book, it’s something that we added, but I just thought it would be very cool. And they are really running along that train, getting on, and then they are jumping off of a moving train. It’s connected together with some visual effects, but they’re really doing it, and that train is moving. Maybe it was about 15 miles per hour? You have to actually do it at a speed that they can run that fast to get on. You get to 15, and it starts to get a little bit hard.

Did you ever try to do it yourself?
I did! Oh, yeah. It was great. I always feel that way as a director — if they’re going to do it, I have to do it. But I did not get up on that zip line. I would have liked to do that. But the same thing, we strung a zip line through the streets of Chicago, and in all these things, we did them in a variety of different ways and combined them together, but we always did it for real. The zip line was a more complicated thing because it started up on a crane, like 200 feet in the air, so getting up there was no joke.

Click here to check out the rest Neil’s interview with Vulture.

Divergent will be out in theaters this Friday. Have you purchased your tickets yet?

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WATCH: ‘DIVERGENT’ cast play ‘Bed, Wed or Dead’ with Clevver TV!

The Divergent cast plays this really fun game called Bed Wed or Dead with Clevver TV.


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Photos: ‘DIVERGENT’ cast at the world premiere in Los Angeles!

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Last night was the Divergent world premiere in Los Angeles, All of the films stars came out to support the film. Check out the photos below:

All grown up: She may play a teenager in the movie but Shailene chose a grown-up gown for the premiere<br>

Fleshbaring: Along with flashing her leg, Shailene's dress was almost backless as she took to the special black carpet at the premiere <br>

Still a kid at heart: She may have looked all grown up in her dress but Shailene couldn't help joking around on the carpet <br>

Frenemies: Kate Winslet and Shailene, who play enemies onscreen, looked thrilled to be catching up at the premiere in Los Angeles <br>

Mamma Mia: Despite giving birth to her third child in December, Kate looked fabulous in her long red dress

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Close cast: Shailene cuddled up to Theo, who plays her love interest and Zoe Kravitz, who portrays her best friend in the flick

The perfect pair: The casting of both Shailene and Theo won rave reviews from fans of the book series on which the movie is based <br>

Elegant: Shailene and Theo looked elegant in their premiere attire as they posed for pictures on the carpet <br>

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Cosy: Shailene cosied up to her on-screen love interest Theo James, who plays hunky instructor Four <br>

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LBD: Author Veronica Roth, who wrote the series and actress Rebecca Da Costa chose varying versions of the Little Black Dress

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Attention grabbing: While Ashley Judd plays Tris' drab mother in the movie, she made sure she stood out in a dramatic plunging dress at the premiere

Attention grabbing: While Ashley Judd plays Tris' drab mother in the movie, she made sure she stood out in a dramatic plunging dress at the premiere

Tough cookie: Zoe Kravitz plays Christina, one of the fiercest competitors in Dauntless with a blunt manner

Tough cookie: Zoe Kravitz plays Christina, one of the fiercest competitors in Dauntless with a blunt manner

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Commando? Maggie didn't appear to be wearing any underwear and drew comparisons to Elizabeth Hurley's infamous Versace dress <br>

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Flashing the flesh: Divergent's Maggie Q and singer Pia Mia Perez, who has contributed to the soundtrack, both showed off their trim figures in attention grabbing outfits

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Short and sweet: Ellie Goulding, who sings the movie's theme song Beating Heart, rocked up in a short sparkly dress

Flashing the flesh: Divergent's Maggie Q and singer Pia Mia Perez, who has contributed to the soundtrack, both showed off their trim figures in attention grabbing outfits

Cool casual: ASAP Rocky paired a tuxedo jacket with some casual trousers and trainers as he took to the carpet in LA

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