'Insurgent': Veronica Roth on Tris Holding Guns, That Mystery Box and Major Book-Movie Changes

The 'Divergent Series' author talks about the complicated 'Insurgent' plot and her favorite moments as Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Todd Lieberman and more weigh in on book-movie differences.

Ever since the Insurgent trailers showed Shailene Woodley's Tris holding a gun, fans were up in arms about a plotline clearly deviating from the second Divergent novel. In the book, Tris has difficulty holding a gun as she copes with the fact that she killed her friend Will. Author Veronica Roth spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about this specific difference while at the Insurgent premiere, held Monday at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City.

"I think having an action movie in which the heroine can't hold a weapon, then the whole movie is about her not being able to hold a weapon," said Roth. "But they found other ways for her to express her emotional state, other than the gun-holding."

She continued, "For me, that was all the gun-holding thing really was, a way of showing how traumatized she is by what's happened to her. But I think that still comes across in the movie, which is good."

At the afterparty Roth talked about the addition of the mystery box, which is a major plot point in Insurgent

"I think it kind of streamlines the story, really," said Roth. "There's a lot of different movements that Tris makes in the book — she's going to Erudite, she's going away from Erudite, she's going back to Erudite — and she experiences a lot of those simulations throughout that process. But in the movie, you just need that smooth arc. And also, to give Jeanine [Kate Winslet] this motivation to target her specifically — in the book, it's a little more nebulous, but it's very specific in the movie."

Roth said that Insurgent has the most complicated plot of the three books, and that the book-to-film changes make it so that the movie isn't just constantly explaining itself to the audience. She said, "That would be kind of lame. It's like they found a way to keep some of my favorite moments: the simulation where Tris fights herself, the simulation where she encounters her mother, the one where she thinks she's getting rescued but she's not — all those things are in the same place, happening at the same emotional peak, which really works."

Actors and producers also weighed in with their thoughts about the book-to-movie changes. Here's what they had to say:

Actor Ansel Elgort: "It's a movie, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices to make a good movie. It can't always be exactly how the book is, because it might not work in a screenplay. The reason why these screenwriters have a job is because they're good at their job."

Executive Producer Todd Lieberman: "When you take a beloved book like this — and the rule we always follow is to take the essence of what's true in the material. But obviously, it's hard to translate something from book to screen. So we took the essence. There's some creative liberties we took, which wouldn't necessarily be allowed or feel like a forward-moving trajectory in a film, but would be necessary for that, so we invented a couple things. But I think for the most part, the true essence of the characters and what was so beloved in the book [remains] in the film. … The same will be true of the next film. Be reassured."

Producer Douglas Wick: "We take the fans very seriously," said Wick. "When a book sells 30 million copies, you understand it's communicating something very powerful, so we had great respect for the source. Then the job is to make it work in another medium, so if we were completely faithful and the movie didn't work, Veronica would've been very disappointed. So we made changes, but we consulted with her and she was happy with them."

Actress Maggie Q: "If they're in love with Tris — as they should be — her journey in this one is really spectacular. [Fans will] have a visceral reaction to it because Shailene is such a wonderful actress, and they really do go deep with it."

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