By Brooke Rudisill
It’s very rare nowadays to hold a conversation with someone without internal thoughts conflicting. We sometimes tend to be so wrapped up in our own heads and searching for the right ways to filter our thoughts, that we end up losing the rawness of true connections.
Shailene Woodley is different. To her, interactions between one another are meant to be as authentic as possible. Known for her role as Tris Prior in the “Divergent” series franchise, Woodley sits calmly at a roundtable in sunny South Florida to promote her latest movie, “Allegiant.” There is something about her energy that makes you feel at ease. She’s a California girl who genuinely cares about connecting with those around her.
In this film, Tris finally comes to a point in her journey where she’s able to channel a high level of self-confidence and self-comfort, much more so than in the first two installments in this series. She focuses more on seeking truth within every situation and questions the safety of her trust within others.
“When you get to a point within your life of recognizing who you are and not being caught up in your head constantly, you’re able to be more present to the situations and the people around you because you’re actually existing with them instead of co-existing with your ego and your insecurities,” says Woodley. “It was very exciting for me to see Tris in that place and to see her really be able to take David in for who he was, [along with taking] Four’s opinions into account without the reflections of rejection of her own internal world.”
Woodley goes on to speak about how although Tris is a character that externally presents herself as someone who embodies constant strength, she is actually quite vulnerable and struggles with many weak moments. Part of the reason Tris is so relatable to audiences is because she replicates a messy individual who acts on bravery and integrity during moments of clarity.
“I think it’s sometimes easy to look at people and have ideas, projections and assumptions about who they are based on how you’re interpreting their external gestures,” says Woodley. “But it’s important to empathize with their internal world as well.”
Although the antagonists in this series have twisted ways of taking on their leadership roles within this dystopian society, their drive all stems from a deeper desire of actually wanting to help the community.
“Jeff Daniels’ character, [David], really believes that if his prophecy is fulfilled, if what he wants to do is allowed, then he will be able to help the world and that’s what Jeanine’s character [Kate Winslet] wanted to do as well,” said Woodley.
This time around, audiences are taken outside of Chicago’s city limits and into an unknown culture, that surprisingly is more corrupt than what we have originally seen in this series. David is the leader of Bureau of Genetic Welfare, located outside of the gates. Here, a large number of individuals who are genetically pure monitor the activity within Chicago.
David is on a mission to try and understand how to make the rest of Chicago genetically pure. By luring Tris in with ties that are related to her mother, he is able to make her believe she is part of a peaceful plan by striking at her weakest points.
“I think we are all messy people and we all make mistakes,” says Woodley. “It’s important to also note that trust doesn’t just belong in the hands of other people; it belongs in your gut. When I meet someone and my gut tells me not to trust them, it’s not necessarily that I don’t trust them, it’s that I trust my gut more.”
Although many fans are anticipating the final two films to visually replicate the story, Veronica Roth, author of the “Divergent” series created, it is to be noted that there has been many alterations from the original source material.
“When I signed on to do these movies we didn’t have a script for ‘Divergent,’ it was just the book as the source material,” says Woodley. “My perception of Tris from day one has been the Tris that Veronica created.”
It is clear from Woodley’s expression how genuine she truly feels about staying true to Tris’ original characteristics when portraying them on the big screen.
“It’s difficult to retain the integrity of who Tris is in a world that doesn’t cater to that,” says Woodley. “But at the same time, it’s a good challenge. We’re lucky that even though our various directors have shifted some things from the source material, they are also open to interpretation and collaboration.”
Though we get to see part of what Tris goes through in “Allegiant,” we have to wait for the second part, “Ascendant,” in March 2017 to see Woodley portray the final steps of Tris’ journey. “Allegiant” is open in theaters nationwide now.