'Divergent' Makeup Artist Reveals the Painstaking Process Behind Four's Tattoos
Brad Wilder tells Pret-a-Reporter that the 40-piece tattoo on Theo James' back required application by three people for three hours.
With only a few days leading up to the highly-anticipated release of Divergent, the Summit film based on Veronica Roth's best-selling YA novel of the same name, fans will finally get the chance to see Tris Prior (played by Shailene Woodley) and Tobias "Four" Eaton (Theo James) come to life, as they try to survive as Dauntless (one of five factions in a futuristic Chicago).
One of the most memorable features from the film is Four's back tattoo, which makeup artist Brad Wilder says required the most attention from the makeup team.
"Theo's back tattoo was about 40 separate pieces, and it took three of us about three hours to apply," Wilder, who has worked on the films 42 and The Help, tells Pret-a-Reporter. "We'd start at the top and work our way down from over his shoulder to the center of his back."
Instead of identifying only as a Dauntless (the brave), the symbols on Four's tattoo also represent Amity (the peaceful), Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the knowledgeable), because he "doesn't just want to be one thing."
The temporary tattoos would be removed at the end of each day using rubbing alcohol. Luckily for Wilder and his team, Four doesn't take off his shirt too often in the film, so they only had to apply the tattoos about four times during the film. (We, however, wished otherwise. And, yes, when Pret-a-Reporter attended a screening for the film, many members of the theater screamed "Yes!" when Four was shirtless. We may have too.)
As to the inspiration behind the tattoos, seen mainly on the Dauntless members, Wilder notes that the idea came from director Neil Burger (Limitless) and production designer Andy Nicholson.
"I think an inspiration that Andy went to -- I heard him mention Russian Constructivism from the '20s," says Wilder. "It was a sort of art wave going through Europe at that time. Very linear with shapes, circles and lines. Very minimalist. That's where he kind of started and developed into these patterns that we had made up into tattoos."
While Four's inked back required hours, Tris' three raven tattoos (representing her mother, father and brother) demanded less time. Just how long did it take? "It would take maybe 10 minutes," says Wilder of Woodley's collarbone tattoo. "That was a quick process."
Catch all the other rad tattoos on Divergent when the film hits theaters March 21.