Insurgent: Shailene Woodley and Theo James Return

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 created on screen,” comments Wick. “As Insurgent begins, she is haunted by grief.  She is a warrior consumed with survivor’s guilt.  Her world is crumbled. One of her first acts in the story is to cut off her hair. It’s her way of physicalizing her pain, it’s just too much to bear.’”

Haunted by Grief

“Tris is guilt-ridden,” Woodley agrees. “She’s lost her mom 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.”

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 traumatized from what happened at the end of the first installment, but she has to figure out a different way of fighting the system than with a gun alone.”

For Woodley, 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 Woodley. “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.”

Theo James

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.”

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.”