'Divergent': Neil Burger, Veronica Roth on romance vs. violence, 'Allegiant'

By the time "Divergent" arrived at San Diego Comic-Con, the movie had just wrapped its Chicago shoot. Fans present during the movie's Hall H panel witnessed the first footage of the movie, which director Neil Burger cut from the scenes that were completed and what he thought would be most exciting to fans.

Zap2it caught up with Burger before the Hall H panel and spoke with him about the last scene they filmed for "Divergent." "We shot a scene that's in the Aptitude Sim room with sort of Shailene [Woodley] kind of taking that psychological test that's going to determine which group she selects," he teases.

Author Veronica Roth worked with Burger to make sure that the movie he was creating was set up to properly tell the story of the "Divergent" trilogy, the last book of which will come out in October. Though Woodley opted to stay in the dark about the end of Tris' journey in "Allegiant," Burger was in the know about the direction the story is headed.

"Many hours were spent talking to Neil about the backstory, the things he would need to know in order to portray the world in a way that would in a way that wouldn't set him up for trouble later," Roth tells Zap2it.

Of course, Burger isn't set in stone to direct the second "Divergent" film, "Insurgent." "You know what? We'll see," he says with a smile of whether he'll helm the movie.

Though "Divergent" is technically a young adult novel, it deals with some heavy themes and a lot of violence. Burger says that was part of the draw for him.

"To me it's based on something that's considered a young adult novel, but to me all the concerns in the movie were much more adult in a way and much more sophisticated," he says. "Everything that [Tris is] going through, even though she's a young person or a young woman, are universal to anybody who's in their 20s or 30s or 40s. It's the same sort of thing; who am I loyal to? Where do I belong? What do I go out on a limb for? I don't consider it a young adult story but a human story that's pretty sophisticated. Because of that, yeah, there's parts of it that are dark."

As for the balance of romance and violence in the movie, Roth says, "I think it worked out really well, actually. In the books the romance is kind of integral to the plot. ... The motion of the story is driven by them, and they are driven by it in turn."

The casting in "Divergent" is pretty spot-on, but Roth admits that the hardest character to cast was romantic lead Four.

"The part of Four was really hard to get right because he's got so much going on. He has to capture that kind of mystery and then he's got to be able to portray some sort of vulnerability beneath it. That was really hard," Roth says. "I think they auditioned like a lot of people, but I saw the screen test between Theo James and Shailene Woodley right before they were going to approach him to be the part and oh man he was so incredible."

Roth also offers up one tease of "Allegiant," saying, "You get to see what happens outside the fence."

"Divergent" is due in theaters on March 21, 2014. "Allegiant" comes out on Oct. 22.

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