Photo: Jimi Celeste/?Patrick McMullan
Most fans of the Divergent series would devour the third book, Allegiant, in one sitting, if they could get their hands on it. (It’s not out until October 22.) They might even kill for it — or at least try a Dauntless sucker punch. But director Neil Burger, who is at the helm of the film series, has a copy and — gasp! — has not read it yet.
Okay, to be fair, the poor guy only just finished shooting in Chicago about two weeks ago, at which point he had to go to Comic-Con, then start editing. And besides, he has something the rest of us don’t have: a direct dial to author Veronica Roth, which he’s been employing ever since he started this whole thing. “I really grilled her about it while she was writing it,” he told us when we ran into him at the after-party for Elyisum hosted by Ciroc Amaretto and Quintessentially Lifestyle this week. “I wanted to make sure we were on the right trajectory. I asked her what happened, where it all went.”
Burger said that he rethought parts of the film Divergent based on these conversations, so that he could leave breadcrumbs leading to Allegiant. “There are a few things that we were thinking of cutting that we had to keep,” he said. “And there were things where I’d be like, ‘I want to do things this way,’ and she’d be like, ‘We’re going to do that in the third book,’” so he’d reset his course.
Of course, Burger couldn’t reveal spoilers — hey, we tried — but he did say that he asked Roth questions about the wall and the outside world, about how people in this world get their food, and whether or not they use money. “It’s not in the book, and it’s not really in the movie either, but for me as a filmmaker, you need to know these things,” he said. “In the first book, there’s this very potent image of this wall that actually has no narrative function, so we had to deal with it, and understand it. We had to know what the whole world was.”
And in case you were wondering which faction Burger is in, he is Divergent.