The Showplace ICON Theater in Chicago was buzzing with excitement this past Tuesday evening over the city’s premiere of Divergent. We were there to cover every wonderful moment of it.
There was already a long line of fans inside the theater by the time we arrived, which was about two and a half hours before the red carpet event was set to begin. It was impossible to ignore the all of the fans’ enthusiasm for the series. From Divergent t-shirts to colorful and creative signs, the fans were ready to celebrate this momentous occasion with the cast and brilliant series creator.
Our personal favorite signs were those that said something along the lines of, “I’m factionless and I need a ticket to see the movie,” as well as one fan’s sign that cleverly read “I get to see Divergent on March 4th” with a giant photo of Four where the number should be.
There were fans with books and mini-posters as far as the eye could see, just waiting for their favorite stars and author to walk by. We even saw and talked to a few fans who bought Ansel Elgort a cookie cake as an early birthday present! His reaction to the cake was probably one of the highlights of our entire night. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
While Veronica Roth, Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley, and Theo James were the ones that were scheduled to attend the premiere, there were a few surprise guests who walked the red carpet as well.
The first was Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Just days after participating in the Polar Plunge with Jimmy Fallon, the mayor took to the Divergent red carpet to show his support for the film and praise it for showcasing the city.
The second surprise guest of the evening was the lovely Amy Newbold, a Chicago native who plays the part of Molly Atwood. She was so excited to be at the premiere, especially since it was in her own backyard. Not only that, but Amy was seeing the movie for the first time along with the rest of us at the premiere. She told us that she was most looking forward to seeing her fight scenes as well as just the whole world coming together. Amy was so sweet and is nothing like the character she plays on screen. It was a really pleasant surprise to have been able to talk with her.
About fifteen minutes after Amy started talking to the press, Veronica Roth and Ansel Elgort made their way onto the red carpet. We didn’t even see them when they first started walking. The fans’ deafening cheers were what caught our attention. Shailene Woodley and Theo James followed soon after.
Remember those fans with that cookie cake we told you about? Elgort saw them almost immediately after stepping onto the press circle of the red carpet and his reaction was priceless. We can’t begin to describe it, so take a look instead:
Once the guests of honor finally made it over to where we were standing, it was clear that the fans weren’t the only ones excited about Divergent. In fact, Elgort was downright giddy! The stars spent a large portion of their time on the carpet just meeting and talking to fans. Or, in Elgort’s case, snapping selfies with as many fans as possible.
Though our time talking to the four guests was relatively short, we were able to find out a few little interesting pieces of information. When we asked Elgort if Roth had given him any sort of insight into Caleb before or during the filming of Divergent, he said no. He just played Caleb how he felt that he should.
However, he added that “[Veronica and I] talked today because we were on the airplane together and we said that we were going to talk about Caleb.” It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect their conversation will have on Elgort’s portrayal in Insurgent, especially in terms of the character’s nuances.
Speaking of nuances, when we asked Roth if there was anything she saw in the movie that she wished she had included in the books, she immediately answered that she would have written more of Jeanine’s character. “If I could go back and do something,” she said, “it would be to make [Jeanine] more nuanced and maybe a little more present at the ending. They did that in the movie and I’m really happy with it.” Jeanine’s character represents a subtle fear that’s always lurking, which makes her even more intimidating, so we can definitely see why Roth would choose to bring her more to the foreground.
We were also really intrigued to find out what parts of the movie everyone was most excited to see on screen or even film. For Roth, it was the city of Chicago. “Seeing the Sears Tower and the Hancock building and all of those things in the movie, it’s all made me get all emotional,” she gushed. “I’m trying to control my fangirl.”
Roth had also been anxious to see the fear landscape scenes on screen. “I wanted them to be a balance of creepy and surreal, and also real enough that you’d understand why the character is afraid.” When we started talking about the scene with the glass box that’s featured in the trailer, she revealed that one of her “worst fears is looking into the reflection and having it talk back.” Talk about creepy!
James was also really excited about the fear landscape. For Four’s character, he saw it as “a really interesting way of showing part of himself without being too wimpy about it.” In addition to the landscape, he’s also really partial to the climax at the end of the film because it involves both action and love. He explained how he likes that Tris doesn’t use her physical strength to try and save Four. James says that, instead, “she manages to break through [his robotic state], it sounds cheesy, but with love.”
Elgort wasn’t really excited for one scene in particular, but rather the Divergent world as a whole. “There’s this story with this whole different world, you know sort of like The Lord of the Rings, where they built [this whole new place] with these factions and everything, and it’s cool to be in something that’s not just a kitchen sink drama.”
When asked about how it felt to come into a movie or a series that already has such an established and devoted fan base, the stars couldn’t be happier. Woodley says that she thinks it’s great how the fans see Divergent for what it is and the message it carries, instead of seeing it as pure entertainment. She’s really proud of the message and that something like Divergent is now in the main stream.
James’ take on the fan base’s excitement was slightly different. “It feels really good to be invested in something that people actually already love,” he told us. “There’s obviously expectations that come with it but you have to let those go and just play the character how you feel it should be played.”
As for Elgort, he couldn’t possibly be more excited. “It’s crazy. It’s a blessing. It’s insane. To get these kind of movies right off the bat, it’s a blessing. I’m so fortunate. What else is there to say? There are no words!” After meeting and talking with Elgort, we felt the same way. There just are no words.
After the stars left the red carpet and all the press packed away their equipment, it was finally time to take our seats in the theater and watch Divergent. The theater was packed with fans and you could really feel a sort of electric current flowing through the air. While watching the film, we all laughed, cheered, and cried as one, which is really how these sort of opportunities should be experienced.
We’ll have a full review up later this month, but what we can say for now is that we really enjoyed the movie. While there are a few changes in detail from the text, Divergent stays true to the spirit of the book. We think you’re all really going to enjoy it. We can honestly say that watching Divergent was truly the perfect end to an indescribably amazing night. We can’t wait for the Insurgent Chicago premiere!
Thank you to Fangirlish’s Dan Schiffmacher for teaming up with us, taking these photos, and recording our interviews!