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Wednesday, April 9, 2014
'Divergent' -- Part II

Veronica Roth, the author of the "Divergent" novels, admits to being a fan of "The Hunger Games" books and owns up — a little — to the resemblance between the two series. But "Divergent" seems to genuinely capture the feeling of being a young person preparing for adulthood. And there's a good reason for this. It's not just the stars who are young (Woodley is 22, Elgort 20). Roth is only 25 herself.

"The choices real teenagers have to make at 16, 17 or 18, it feels like these are life-and-death decisions," Roth said. "I felt that at 16, this pressure to get it right the first time. People change majors, change colleges, change jobs. But when you're 16 or 17, you don't have that perspective."

Woodley, who made her name in smaller, dramatic films, had this feeling as she pondered whether to tackle her first blockbuster. "I had to decide if I wanted something this big in my life," Woodley said. "I'm grateful that I did because I have no regrets."

While many authors balk at allowing others to turn their novels into movies, it was never a problem for Roth. "I know from the second the book hits the shelf, it stops belonging to the person who wrote it. It starts belonging to everyone who reads it," she said. In fact, Roth wouldn't have been as happy with the film if it had been an exact representation of the book.

She spent more than 400 pages creating the world, characters and events. A movie with that much material would run for more than eight hours. Roth said she was confident director Burger would make the right decisions in turning her book into a film. "The challenge for me was fitting all this stuff into the movie because we loved the story. But the movie is different than the book. It has different needs," said Burger.

Roth was kept in the loop on all decisions regarding the movie. That meant she had to split her focus with writing the third book in the series, "Allegiant," while the casting was being done for "Divergent." "Writing is what I love to do. It's been wonderful to be a part of making this movie, but I'm just somebody who wants to write novels. We didn't test how much influence I had because they kept saying, 'Here's who we are considering for this role,' and I would just say, 'Sounds good,'" Roth said.

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