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.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
In DIVERGENT and INSURGENT, Tris’ (Shailene Woodley’s) best friend who also pledged Dauntless, Christina (Zoë Kravitz), hadn’t yet blossomed into a formidable character. Her presence had yet to be felt. However, in director Robert Schwentke’s ALLEGIANT, Christina establishes herself as a secondary heroine in the franchise, aiding Tris’ rebellious force on their quest towards revolution.
Kravitz was eager to return to the role.
“It’s a really interesting experience artistically to really sit with the character. You’ve got a few chances to try different things or develop her more. Especially working with the same people over and over again, you get to really know each other in a way where you aren’t walking on any egg shells – everyone can be completely honest with each other. That’s the best way to be artistic. Everyone feels very much in their power now.”
There hasn’t been anything Kravitz has been surprised by in terms of Christina’s evolution.
“I think it’s difficult to balance, in terms of filmmaking, the character development the way that they are so detailed in the books. In terms of making the film, there’s the action, the stunts, there’s the technology – you can only focus on so much. It’s been interesting to bring out as much as I can with very few lines and between a lot of action. What that’s evolved into is she’s actually quieted down a lot which is good for her. Coming from the first film, coming from Candor, going away from her family, at the age that they are at there’s a lot of angst there. It’s interesting to see her evolve into a much more militant person who’s involved in stuff. I tried to use the little moments of silence to try to make that come across.”
Kravitz, who’s also been a part of two other franchises (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS), doesn’t approach her roles any different than if these were stand alone, independent films.
“There’s not a different approach in terms of the work that you do to be prepared to play your character. There’s a certain amount of power that you have on an independent film because it’s you and the director and the crew. You have a lot more say in what’s going on. Everyone has to go way above and beyond to make it work. With big films, it’s a machine and you are a part of the machine. You show up and do what you can do.”
As this is the third film in the series, stunts are pretty much old hat to Kravitz. Well, except the one where she and a few of the other actors had to dangle on a wall for a week in the Atlanta heat.
“The big training was for the scaling of the wall – that’s one thing we had to rehearse. These scenes are hard because Atlanta is very, very hot. Doing these scenes outside, in the heat, and wearing a wig and a long sleeved shirt, there comes a point where you’re hanging on the wall for the seventh hour where you’re just like…”
Even though this is the second to the last film in the series, Kravitz says she’s not ready to feel the pings of nostalgia – at least not yet.
“I think the reality is really going to hit us on the next on. It’s a long shoot – and a hard shoot. I think we’ll be really focused on shooting the film. But what’s going to happen is that last week’s gonna come. and we’re all going to freak out. We’re all going to lose it. It’s going to be very emotional for everybody.”
Divergent fans have embraced Kravitz – something that genuinely impacts her. And being a part of such an empowering franchise for young women is what fuels her soul.
“They’re just very sweet. It’s been an amazing experience, seeing these lovely inspired young girls who are just… you see that inspiration on their face, in their eyes, and it makes me so, so happy. That’s really what gets me out of bed. These films are so intense to make and a lot going on. I meet one of those girls in the street and I’m just so thankful.”
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT opens on March 18.
Feature Photo: Christina (Zöe Kravitz) in THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.