A few weeks ago, I was able to sit down with Veronica Roth at Lionsgate Offices to do a special interview with a few other fansites. We talked about the Divergent Movie, Allegiant and so much more! Read the full transcript of our interview below, Veronica had the BEST answers for all of our questions:
Question: Can you describe Four in Four words?
Answer: Let me think okay so: handsome, and intense, and sensitive and I don’t know, badass is that good?
Question: What was your first reaction after you read the script?
Answer: I think, reading a script is a really interesting experience. I had never read a script before. I was really impressed by how closely it stuck to the general plot line of the book. I haven’t read the updated script, so I don’t know how it’s transformed. I’ve been told it’s transformed in really positive ways and I’m gonna read it, I think, soon. And from what I saw on set it was developing quite nicely so it was surprisingly positive, because I was expecting to feel very personally like… insulted if anything changed but I didn’t feel that way at all.
Question: What’s the mood been like on set so far? And how much time have you spent on it?
Answer: I’ve only been there one day. But, from what I can see it’s just really interesting to have the actual actor relationships reflect the character relationships. So like, all the young initiates have a great comradery with each other and they seem really excited. And then I met all of the behind the scenes people, like the guys who built the set and the guys who were making the costumes and all that, and they are all really–I don’t know, everyone seems really positive, really pumped up and excited to be a part of it and sort of figuring out the details of this crazy world, so it’s been good.
Question: Was Allegiant always the title or did you go through a few different ideas?
Answer: I did not go through different ideas, it was always the title.
Question: So were you laughing when these ideas kept coming up ending in ‘ent’ and you were like…
Answer: I know the truth! I wasn’t laughing because I think in the very early stages I sort of thought of those words. I remember looking up a list of all the 36 words in the English language that rhyme with ‘Divergent’. I really don’t know what to do here, because like ‘Assurgent’ was never going to be um… the word I chose so, I wasn’t laughing but. I was laughing when they put ‘Detergent’ into that (laughs) YES! It’s permeated the public consciousness.
Question: How has it felt seeing the characters that were once in your brain, come to life to these actors, some of them being Oscar nominated, has it been surreal or has it been exactly how you pictured it?
Answer: I think I would be a little disappointed if it was exactly how I pictured it because there’s then no reinterpretation, no new discovery. And what I was most concerned about when they were casting, is finding actors who could capture, kind of like the internal world of a character as opposed to like exactly matching the description that I wrote. And in that sense, I think it’s been really amazing, because when I was watching them act I was like, “Yes! This is it! This is the perfect person, like you did such a good job” so even with people that I was on the fence with I was really swayed by the end of the day. So, I think they’ve done, they’ve done a good job. I mean, I think that I’ve been overwhelmingly positive online and well, that’s because I feel overwhelmingly positive about it. So, if I wasn’t feeling that way I would probably just be quiet…
Question: Is there a certain scene that you’re excited to see come to life?
Answer: Oh man, so many of them. Um, I’m trying to think… I’m excited to see some of the more intense moments, you know the deaths. That sounds really like morbid. But some of them like Tris’ mom. That is such a formidable experience for Tris, and I think I’m interested to see how it’s realized and see if I cry even though I’ve read it like hundreds of times… and like, wrote it.
Question: Why do you think this dystopian future, drama is so compelling right now?
Answer: I don’t know, I’ve thought about that a lot. I think it’s interesting because it sort of pulls you in both directions. So, you’re interested in the forward thrust of the story, and you’re also interested in like the history of the world and how it sort of became that way. So I think anything that pulls your mind that way will be really interesting and also just creates some really, like dynamic backdrop for these kinda very human struggles and stories.
Question: I know you probably can’t give us too many spoilers, but what kind of tidbits can you share from Allegiant?
Answer: What can I share? Is there anything I can share? I’m trying to think, I really can’t say. I can’t say very much. I think, the things that you expect to learn more about, you do. So you will find out who this Edith Prior person is. Somehow they’re related and yeah.
Question: So questions will be answered?
Answer: Yes! I tried very hard to answer all the questions I thought that readers were likely to have because you know, those are the questions I set up and ones that I had when I started writing so.
Question: What does the word Allegiant mean to you? There’s lots of definitions but…
Answer: To me it means like one who is loyal, or faithful to a particular cause or person or um yeah.
Question: So, the second book really opened up a whole new world, like it can go so many different directions, and I was thinking that it seems that it’s going to be really difficult to close it all off in one more book. Will you ever continue after the third, or is that the end?
Answer: I definitely mapped it out to be three books. And I think, the ending is definitely an end.
Question: Will you ever write from Four’s point of view again? Or any of the other characters’ point of views in the future?
Answer: I mean I certainly wouldn’t rule it out as far as side material like Free Four was. What I discovered when I wrote Free Four is that, it is intensely difficult to rewrite a scene from another character’s perspective because you have to keep consulting the original scene because you have to make sure it lines up and then you have to like keep the whole frame of the story in mind and it was just so hard. I was like: I don’t know if I can ever do this as like a full length thing. It was fun but… yeah, it’s definitely a challenge.
Question: So open but…?
Answer: Open but, you know, I chose Tris’ narrative and voice for a reason.
Question: When you were on set, did any of the actors come to you and have any particular questions about what they should be doing?
Answer: Yeah! I actually had a fairly long conversation with Miles Teller about Peter, which was really interesting. I think because Peter is a little confusing as a character. Definitely one of the stranger characters. So I explained some things to him he was interested in figuring out. I talked to Theo a little bit about Four and Shailene a little bit about Tris too. I’m sure more of these conversations will happen.
Question: If you were gonna place yourself, in the Divergent story, which character do you think you would see yourself as?
Answer: I don’t know… Probably one of the side people, like Susan. Yeah.
Question: So then, are you Divergent? or… What faction do you see yourself a part of?
Answer: Well that’s… an interesting question. I used to think that I would chose Dauntless, I think that’s just like a desire that a lot of people have: “Oh yes, I wanna be a badass!”. But I’m not! So I think I would actually chose Abnegation. I’m a… I’m a Hufflepuff so it seems…
Question: You’ve mentioned some set visits, how involved are you going to be, or are you involved in the filming process?
Answer: I’m not… I haven’t been involved in terms of making decisions. You know because, I like to write books. And I was, busy doing that and I was happy to kind of just watch it all happen. Knowing my work was done years ago was kind of like awesome. But they have kept me really informed, of everything and they’ve been super welcoming. And, they made me a chair! You know, like the director’s chair, it says like the name? Yeah. So, they are definitely happy to have me there but yeah. I’m kind of running around also so.
Question: It must be like a dream come true, as an author, to have a movie made of their book with Kate Winslet in it. What was that moment for you when you were like “oh this is like super legit”?
Answer: (laughs) When they told me they were talking to her I was like “Pfft! Yeah, that’s gonna happen!” Because I don’t believe anything until it’s done, and it’s official. And then when it was official, I like had a little panic attack. Like “it’s really happening!” So, the official strategy is defensive pessimism, always. Lately I’ve allowed myself to get a little more excited.
Question: Going back to Allegiant a little bit, what’s–for any book you write–what’s your favorite part about the writing process?
Answer: That’s a good question. I like revision, a lot. Because my rough drafts are just insane word vomit, mess, gross, awful. Like they’re just terrible. And so what I really love, is getting some really good notes, which I’ve gotten and totally ripping it appart and putting it back together I have to find the story that I originally wanted to tell. I especially like late stage revisions where you’re just like fixing the little things, and you start to see you know, what’s going to come out as a finished story. It’s really amazing.
Question: So news broke on twitter this morning that Uriah is not gonna be in the movie and fans are going crazy. Can you comment on that at all?
Answer: I will say… I mean, it’s obviously super disappointing when your fan favorite doesn’t make it into the first movie. But, I will say that I’m kind of comforted that they didn’t just like, slap-dash cast someone, and I’m happy that they’re going to take their time casting someone for the second and the third who’s really somebody that can do justice to the role.
Question: So, after we read Insurgent, it really turned the whole story on its head. Can we expect that level of shock in Allegiant or will it just be answering questions?
Answer: I can’t really anticipate how you’re going to react to it. I think certainly some things will be shocking, some things will be like ah!
Question: On set, now that you’ve spent one day only, were you able at all to kinda see first hand the chemistry between Four and Tris in real life, like is it really happening?
Answer: Yes. Actually, when I saw the screen test I pulled away and I went like this**. It was really good! There’s a reason they cast him.
Question: What scene did you see when they were filming?
Answer: It was the knife throwing scene. So, not really a great opportunity to see like romantic tension, but it was a great day to be there. Because I’ve written that scene, you know from two perspectives.
Question: When you sat down to write Divergent, did you have people in mind to play the characters?
Answer: Not really, I’m not one of those people who makes fan casting mostly because I don’t really know actors that well. You know, I know some, but that’s about it. And also, just like the images I have of characters and of the setting of the book is slightly more vague sort of like squinting at something from afar. And so, I think that has helped me to be a little more open minded about watching the filming kind of happen. It’s been more magical than disappointing because, it’s like seeing someone flesh out the details of this thing that I’ve imagined.
Question: You said in your latest blog that what you want to write about has changed, so if you could dream write whatever you want, what’s your dream writing then?
Answer: I think when I said that I was really talking more about–I mean, I’m still writing the same world, the same kind of story–but I think the third book is–oh now I can say the title–Allegiant! I think Allegiant is different kind of in some of the things that it tackles. I mean, Divergent and Insurgent are like heavy action, pretty violent books and the third book has action, it’s not like not-actiony but a lot of my interest has kind of moved toward the kind of societal struggles that are happening and the kind of wrestling that Tris is doing inside of her head. So that’s kind of more what I was referring to. I mean I still love it, I’m an action girl. But I think it’s a little more balanced now.
Question: Can you talk about Neil’s vision for the film? Versus yours and what matches there and what doesn’t?
Answer: I think… I was worried, the whole overall visual sense of the movie would be a little too futuristic sexy. You know like really sleek and like shiny, and that’s not really what was in the world of Divergent. You know,everything is kinda falling apart and I think he definitely did that which I was really happy about. I mean, the visuals I’ve seen are kind of in that fame and that’s been really exciting. And he’s just… He’s kind of like a really detailed, well-oriented mind. So, he’ll know everything, down to the little details that I saw has been so well thought out and so, just in keeping with the kind of like… philosophy of the world and he and I talked for hours he just asked me so many questions about like things I’d never thought of like, how does commerce work in this particular faction? I don’t know! Where were you when I was writing this! So, those conversations were really reassuring because he was so interested in every little thing and I think that definitely comes across in the movie.
Question: Do you know if Theo’s read Free Four?
Answer: I don’t know if he’s read Free Four, I didn’t ask him. I know he read the book, and probably the second one at this point. When I talked to him he had just started the second one. Yeah, I don’t know about Free Four, I’m sure someone has like passed it on to him because, I mean, how do you pass that up? From your character’s perspective.
Question: Lots of fans comment on the character’s age that’s been cast. Do you have any comments on that?
Answer: I think that head shots look a lot older than actual people. When I was meeting them in real life, I was like “Oh yeah, this is not a problem”. Like seeing them all together. They definitely look younger than you think. And, I was more concerned about the age gap, like looking okay. Because obviously Shailene is six years younger than Theo. It doesn’t really look that way because I think that if you cast an actual 16 year old and an actual 18 year old, they look the same age. Especially if the 18 year old is a boy because they don’t age fast and I think that would actually look kinda creepy. So I’m kind of, I’m really happy with the maturity of the actors. I think that was kinda crucial to making this movie work and by casting older actors they’ve definitely gotten some of that maturity. I think that the gap looks great in real life.
Question: So, talking about the actors which actor do you think was cast the best to your vision of the character?
Answer: Okay. That’s a good question. Let’s see, who’s the best? Actually, I think Theo is the closest to how I imagined Four. And then… Also, I think Maggie Q as Tori is really spot on. I mean, have you seen her on Nikita? She’s like already Dauntless.
Question: And what do you think makes Shailene great for Tris to you? What she brings to the character.
Answer: Shailene brings I think a reality to Tris. I mean, Tris is like a kind of impetuous 16 year old. She’s got kind of a harsh personality and vulnerability. Like all the shades of what Tris is, is what Shailene is able to do. Just in like very small moments she’s like pretty solid so that’s been great. Even though she’s not like a tiny blonde girl she just is this character. Like she seems like a real person that’s actually having those struggles. And I wasn’t that surprised because I know she’s a great actor, saw her in the descendants, but I don’t know. I just didn’t think anyone would be able to do it. Because Tris is so dear to me, even though I want to punch her sometimes.
Question: Obviously, this is going to open it up to such a new audience. People who haven’t read the book are going to get to see the film. What does it feel like to have the last book coming out, and closing the story, not too far from when all these new people are going to be starting it.
Answer: It’s a little weird actually. Because a lot of people are asking me about Divergent and I’m just like, “Oh man, that was so long ago”. And sometimes I don’t remember the details! But I mean it’s incredible, obviously to see so many people gravitating toward the books. Like over time, I think. I kind of like convince myself that after the first burst of readership that I got, that would be it. That it would be like “Here we are initiates, just you and me” But it seems to keep continuing to grow and that’s really, that’s amazing. So, I’m glad I finished the third book before, a lot of this movie stuff started too, so I could just like I would still imagine the characters the way I had without that changing but it’s good to see it grow.
Question: After being on the set, and being so involved with Neil, do you think you’ll be more involved in the next movie?
Answer: I don’t really know. I guess it depends on what I’m writing and how things develop from here. I mean, we’re just kinda starting so I don’t really know really what this world is yet. We’ll see.
Question: Divergent has just such a strong fanbase. Do you have something that you feel that you are a super fangirl about?
Answer: I mean, Harry Potter! Seriously, I have a wand. I’m going to comic con this year and I was really thinking about making myself some robes so yeah, I’m a big fan of that.
**The action that Veronica made here was some heavy breathing and fanning herself with her hands. As if it were hot!
Participating sites for this interview were Page to Premiere, Fangirlish, That’s Normal, Hypable, Divergent Fans, The Fandom, and Teen.com. This interview offered wonderful insight to the upcoming Divergent Movie and even some hints at Allegiant!