Earlier today, we told you all about Divergent — and just in time! The dystopian young adult book series has a movie adaptation coming next year, and before its official Comic-Con unveiling, Vulture sat down with its stars Shailene Woodley (who plays heroine Tris) and the bafflingly hunky Theo James (who plays her mentor and eventual love interest, Four). It’s the first Comic-Con for both actors, but Woodley herself says she’s a fangirl at heart when it comes to Star Wars. “I’m such a nerd over the original movies,” she squealed. “Empire Strikes Back? What? SO GOOD!”
It’s a good thing that Woodley is a fan of sequels, since if Divergent proves popular, it could take its place aside The Hunger Games and Twilight as Hollywood’s next years-long, female-fronted franchise. Signing on to such a potentially lengthy series gave Woodley pause until she thought to herself: WWJLD? (“What Would Jennifer Lawrence Do,” obvs.)
“I’ve never met Jen, but we have some mutual friends and I communicated with her before I signed on for Divergent,” Woodley said. “I asked her about her experience on Hunger Games and if that was something she would recommend for me, because she is such an incredible actress to go from being an Oscar-nominated human being for Winter’s Bone and then taking on such a huge young adult franchise. She had nothing but positive things to say, and because of her and a few other people I love and respect, I came to the conclusion that I had to say yes.”
A co-star like James — still best known for playing the dashing, dead Mr. Pamuk on Downton Abbey — couldn’t have hurt, either. How does Four compare to some of the other male leads in the YA kingdom? “He has this great sense of quiet masculinity, which I just thought was fucking cool,” said James.
“It’s very sexy, as well,” added Woodley with a giggle.
In the world of Divergent, the characters are divided into five factions: Dauntless (which prioritizes bravery), Amity (peace), Candor (honesty), Erudite (knowledge), and Abnegation (selflessness). Which section would Woodley place her co-star in? “I would say the old Dauntless. Dauntless the way it used to be,” she said. “Theo is a very compassionate person, and the old Dauntless sort of stood for security and bravery.”
“I would say Shai would be Dauntless, Amity, and Candor,” replied James. “You’re quite honest.”
“I am pretty honest,” Woodley laughed. (She’s not kidding!) “Well, if we get to choose a few, you’d also be Erudite.”
“You’d also be Abnegation, because you’re so selfless,” said James. “You think beyond yourself.” Indeed, the unusually generous and friendly actress had already hugged this reporter twice within five minutes of meeting.
Woodley and James were heading to lunch before their afternoon panel, and both were excited to see fans in the elaborate costumes that Comic-Con is famous for. “I hope someone’s naked!” said Woodley. Does she have a costume in her closet that she’s proud of? “I dressed up as an Oompa-Loompa once for Halloween. I was young, 14 or 15. I went to the thrift store and bought costumes and sat around doing face paint and green hair.”
“I dressed once as the old Batman — the pow pow Batman,” said James. “I did it at university, and it was retro, I suppose. There was a Robin as well, and we both stuffed our crotches.” He began to point repeatedly at his nether regions. “Our crotches were really full.” He continued pointing at his package. Reader, your Vulture reporter had too much propriety to even look.