Shailene Woodley on the evolution and future of Tris in ‘ALLEGIANT’

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25020.dngCourtney Howard // Film Critic

It’s all led up to this! Author Veronica Roth’s cinematic adaptation of her Divergent book series has been building to an epic and thrilling climax in the third of four films, ALLEGIANT.

Directed by Robert Schwentke (INSURGENT), this chapter chronicles Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her crew’s escape beyond the electrified walls surrounding Chicago. However, what she assumes will be sanctuary may not be all that she’s bargained for – and thus, her allegiance to her people is put to the test.

Just as we’ve watched the affable artist grow into being an extremely capable young woman, we’ve seen the metamorphosis of Tris change from sheep to shepherd.

“She was a role model for me when I first read her story a four years ago. Her courage – Tris wasn’t someone who started out as an intrinsic hero – she became a hero through the process of becoming brave and learning to face her fears. In that way, her story can be paralleled to the lives of many of us who are trying to be brave.”

Surprisingly Woodley didn’t originally see Tris as a heroine.

“When we started doing press and I got feedback from people, and people started using that word, that was a shock. I always just saw her as a young girl who had fallen accidentally into a mission that she had to accomplish. If she didn’t accomplish it, she and the rest of her community would die. In retrospect, she is a hero – a hero can be defined as someone who steps up in the face of fear and does something in a selfless manner to help those around them. Tris does do that, but it wasn’t something I was expecting.”

In ALLEGIANT, as Tris uncovers her place as a central figure in humanity’s future, her squad – including Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and pal Christina (Zoë Kravitz) – uncovers the truth about this brave new, futuristic world run by Bureau of Genetic Welfare architect David (Jeff Daniels).

“DIVERGENT and INSURGENT were about Tris’ story and what’s happening with her character arc. It’s kind of nice, in this movie, to watch all of the characters proceed through the wall and find the information they’ve wanted to find – to know. For Tris’ personal development, I don’t know if it’s growth, but it’s more learning about a new culture and learning how one can function with the restrictions of being in a new world.”

While the narrative drives things, stunts are still very much an equal part of Woodley’s job in this third iteration.

“There was a lot of running. Especially running alongside Ansel and Theo who run so fast. One would think I would be a good runner. They were just like jets.”

One sequence in particular had Woodley and a few others scaling a wall on thin wires in the Atlanta heat.

“For the most part, that was us. We just hung in harnesses. It was fun for the first hour and then got really uncomfortable because we were up there for a week straight in Hotlanta. We were dripping sweat.”

Another sequence has Tris flying in the Bureau’s bubbleship.

“Some special effects can be fun. The gimbal scene – when me, Zoë and Ansel are in the flying bubbleship – that was an actual unit that was built on top of a gimbal. We sat there for three days being shaken around going upside down – and that was fun. Luckily none of us [threw up], but it got intense at some points.”

Though nostalgia nor senioritis has hit Woodley just yet, she did concede that when ASCENDANT is wrapped, it’ll be her co-stars and crew members that she will miss most of all.

“It is weird. I’m not nostalgic about saying goodbye to Tris and saying goodbye to the series. It’s more nostalgia based in saying goodbye to the people. Not even the actors – it’s been like the same crew for the last three years. And that will be strange to say goodbye to everyone. Right now, when I think of my life, I think, Oh, yeah. Next year, I’ll have this junket time and I’ll be filming and doing press. But after this year, I won’t have that anymore.”

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT opens on March 18.

Feature Photo: Shailene Woodley stars as ‘Tris’ in THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT. Photo Credit: Murray Close.

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Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.