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As the leads in what is aiming to be the next big YA franchise, Shailene Woodley and Theo James are on a whirlwind premiere tour, hitting up 14 cities in the U.S. before traveling abroad in the coming weeks.
The Divergent cast stopped in Los Angeles for the world premiere in Westwood on Tuesday night, where fans gathered (some since the night before) to meet the stars of the adaptation of Veronica Roth‘s popular novel.
“It feels good, man,” Woodley told THR about being back in Los Angeles. “It feels nice to be in L.A., sort of at the halfway point and to be back in the sunshine.”
On the warm Los Angeles evening, Woodley (wearing a bronze Elie Saab gown) walked the black carpet along with director Neil Burger and stars James, Miles Teller, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort and Maggie Q.
The Summit film follows Woodley’s character, Beatrice, who lives in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into groups based on certain values. Each teen gets to decide which group he/she will join, but Beatrice discovers that she fits into more than one group, making her a Divergent. She joins the bravery group Dauntless, but soon finds her life threatened by both initiate training and external government forces.
Co-stars say Woodley, who has been very open about the lifestyle she lives (ranging from collecting her own drinking water to foraging for fruits), is very genuine in her eccentricities.
“I try and do me,” says Woodley, who hugged every reporter on the red carpet. “I do what makes me happy, I suppose. So if people relate to that, that’s awesome.”
As for the whirlwind press tour, Woodley credited co-star James for making it an easier endeavor.
“I feel very lucky to have that man sort of by my side through this process because he’s such a solid human. It’s nice to have a rock among the waves,” she said.
The role of Four is serving as a breakout part for James, a British actor whose credits include a small part on Downton Abbey.
Director Burger told THR that casting the leading man was the most difficult part and required a worldwide search.
“It’s partly because of who Shailene is as an actress. She’s such a great actress — she’s a fierce actress, very powerful. It was hard to find somebody who was as strong as her — and could do all the romantic stuff and the fighting and everything. So it took awhile,” said Burger.
As for playing Four, James said that he got the part because of his similarities to the character.
“I think we share some qualities. I can be a little bit reclusive, also grumpy. Those are the main things,” he said.
Before the premiere screening, Zedd, Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant performed their song off the Divergent soundtrack, “Find You,” on a stage set up near the red carpet.
At the post-screening party at the Hammer Museum, Woodley, who had changed into a pair of jean overalls and a crop top, spent the evening chatting with her friends in a booth. The venue was decorated with several Divergent-themed touches including Choosing Ceremony bowls and a tattoo parlor offering temporary tattoos. Bryant also performed live at the event.
Maggie Q, who plays a Dauntless member in the film, wore a form-fitting black Dolce & Gabbana dress to the premiere. The Nikita actress said that she enjoyed playing the “mysterious, cool character” in the dystopian film.
“To be honest, the moment when it was right for me was when Shailene and I read together and we had that chemistry. That mattered to me,” she said.
Of her 22-year-old co-star, she added: “She’s the best co-star you’d ever want to work with — caring and loving and wonderful and also extremely talented enough to carry this franchise.”
Divergent opens in theaters in the U.S. on March 21.
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