I’ve been looking forward to the Divergent film adaptation for a while now. Ever since we saw the first footage at San Diego Comic Con last year I’ve been a believer. It seems like such a long time since we were sitting there at the back of Hall H that it’s almost hard to believe that March 21st is almost here. We are only two weeks away from seeing Veronica Roth’s best selling series on the big screen. It’s crazy. Two weeks from now, people will be sitting in theaters all around the country watching Divergent. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
To help promote the film the studio decided to send Miles Teller and Jai Courtney out to Phoenix and Nerdophiles was there on the Red Carpet. Jane got some pretty awesome shots. I got a few, too, on my iPhone to text to my little sister, Bailey, and she was was ridiculously jealous. Of course, she was just even more jealous when I got to go do a roundtable interview with the two the following day.
Let me just tell you all now that Miles Teller and Jai Courtney are two of the coolest, most laid back guys you could ever hope to meet. They were fun and just seemed happy to talk with us. And they were just as willing to ask us questions as they were to answer them. I really appreciated that because this was the first time I had ever interviewed anyone really famous. Now, I’m used to talking with people in stressful situations. I spent most of the last couple semesters in court and I was a student prosecutor last summer. But there is a sort of anxiety that goes along with meeting the kind of people you admire from afar and never think you’ll meet until you actually do.
I’ve been a big fan of Miles Teller for quite a while now so when we got the invite to come out to the interview I was pretty excited. Like many people, my first experience with him came with the Footloose remake where he played Ren’s local buddy, Willard. After that I saw him in various comedies, and while I’m usually not the biggest comedy fan Project X and 21 and Over are somehow two of my favorite movies. My sisters were obsessed with Project X and after they got it for Christmas we must have watched it half a dozen times before I went back to school. Miles Teller always seemed like the sot of person I totally could have hung out with in college. And he was definitely my top pick for Mr. Fantastic when the casting rumors starting coming out so I am so stoked that that is happening. (He is, too, by the way.)
Jai Courtney, on the other hand, looks a bit intimidating. I mean, look at him! He’s so fit and built and the only thing I really knew him from was Spartacus. He is also in the most recent Die Hard movie, as well as I, Frankenstein and Jack Reacher in just the past couple of years but I hadn’t seen any of those movies yet. In my mind he was just Varro, which made me super sad because omg Varro. (BRB, crying.) Really, though, he’s a real up and coming star who people might not know that well now but they will soon. Especially after Terminator: Genesis.
Our session started out with handshakes all around. This was a little difficult because Miles and Jai were on one side of the table and most of us bloggers were on the other. By the time Miles and I came to one another we just laughed and he apologized, saying he didn’t have his powers just yet.
Delving into the questions, we found that a lot of them revolved around what it was like to be working on such a well known franchise. Jai had worked on the Die Hard series before but this was the first movie Miles had worked on with a built in audience. For both of them, the whole rabid fangirl thing was new. Unlike Shailene Woodley, who had spoken with Jennifer Lawrence before taking the role, neither of them had really had anyone sit them down and talk to them about what it was like to enter into the world of fandom and young adult adaptations. Miles did have a friend who was in the Twilight series (though neither he nor anyone else in the room had ever seen the movies or had any idea who his friend had played) and about the only real advice he got was to make his signature on autographs shorter because he would be writing a ton of them.
When I asked if either of them thought that this experience with Divergent and the fans would help prepare them for their later franchises, neither was really sure. Jai is just now getting started with the Terminator franchise (they start pre-production sometime next month it seems) and he’s not expecting the sort of craziness they’ve already seen with Divergent. Miles isn’t sure how the fanbase will be with Fantastic Four once stuff starts getting going. But he’s been enjoying the reception they’ve been getting with Divergent. It sounded like both of them were still getting used to having people come out just to see them when they were in town. But as Miles said, he loves it. He loves getting to meet with the fans and see the crowds come out.
Both of them seem to have really enjoyed the whole process of making Divergent. A big part of preparing for the film had been getting physically in shape. Jai obviously didn’t need any help with that. In fact, he missed most of the bootcamp training the other actors went through. For Miles, though, this was something new. They were trained by a couple really hardcore former military types and it wasn’t all fun and games. It was a very serious, physical challenge.
One of the girls in the interview asked at one point which faction each of the actors would have belonged in if they ever lived in the Divergent universe. Jai could obviously hold his own in Dauntless and said for sure that was the faction he’d choose. I joked that at least now – after such intense physical training – Miles ought to be able to hold his own in Dauntless now, too. He just laughed and said he could probably take on me and the girl sitting next to me. He’d have liked to be in his own faction, one with artists and musicians. Though, he did admit that would probably be Amity if artists and musicians were even around any more. (There were, he said, some flaws in the world building.)
I really appreciated that we were able to have conversations like that throughout the whole interview. Jai and Miles didn’t just have opinions on the movie – they had opinions on the whole world of Divergent. It was nice to see that the actors had really gotten into the over all story. Granted, when I asked if either of them had read the books before starting on the project Jai said he had “certainly done [his] due diligence” and Miles admitted he’d really only read what had pertained to his character, Peter. But as a fan of the books it was really great to talk to the guys and be on the same page when talking about factions and what makes Divergent such a unique dystopian story.
Miles really had a sort of connection with Peter and he was really excited to return to the character in Insurgent, too. This is the first time that he’s played a bad guy and if you’ve read the books you know there’s a lot more to Peter and the reasons he is the way he is than you necessarily get to see in the first film. He’s really looking forward to getting to do more with him. Plus he said it was nice working with Shailene Woodley again in a much different sort of movie than the last one they did together. In Divergent he’s throwing punches at her; in The Spectacular Now they are falling in love.
As much as I loved Divergent – and I loved the movie more than even the book, I think – I have to admit that I was glad that our questions didn’t singularly revolve around the franchise because both Jai and Miles do have some really exciting stuff coming up. One of the girls in our group asked what upcoming projects they have coming up that they are really excited about and Miles jumped right in to say just how excited he was for Fantastic Four. He’s really looking forward to playing such an established character and put his own spin on Mister Fantastic. They had just done a full body scan for the special effects and he was really animated (pun intended) to see how it all translated into computer graphics.
Jai was just as excited about the Terminator franchise and picking up the role of Kyle Reese. (Which brought up a short but hilarious little conversation about Jai needing to drop some weight for the role and subsequently sacrificing alcohol for the whole press tour.) He’s also recently wrapped up two war films including both Unbroken on the book of the same name about Louis Zamperini and the Water Diviner featuring Russell Crowe in the lead role. When talking about how Australian actors so frequently get thrown into stereotypical macho – and often bad guy – roles another stereotype actually got brought up: that all Australians can ride horses. This is not, apparently, true. However, Jai said he could to get the part and Russell Crowe apparently totally called him on it. But hey! He learned.
When the interview started to wind down (I can’t believe it was barely half an hour!) we got a chance to just sort of talk. Miles and Jai – who haven’t seen the finished movie – asked us what we thought and what we had liked and disliked about it. We all seemed to be in agreement that it was nice to see a film with a strong, resilient female lead whose entire purpose for everything wasn’t just some sort of cookie cutter YA romance. I also had to admit that I think this is yet another example of the film adaption of a story surpassing the original, written work.
Before we left Miles and Jai took pictures with everyone and there was a little bit of one on one time. I had to tell Jai that I was really glad to get the chance to meet him because I’ve finally met a famous person I can tell my dad I met and he actually knows who I’m talking about! I’m pretty sure he left the room any time my sisters tried to watch Project X the year they got it for Christmas (though he may have seen 21 & Over now that it’s on Netflix) so I don’t know what he would have seen Miles in. But Jai will always be Varro to me – and my dad.
Divergent hits theatres on March 21st. Check it out. It’s probably one of the best YA adaptations in the past few years. I’ll get a full review up for you guys next week, but until then just remember that. This is one movie that you won’t be disappointed to see.