In a new interview to celebrate Candor Week, Shailene Woodley sat down with The Daily Beast to talk about Divergent and other aspects of her career! See below for some highlights, and make sure to check out the rest of the interview here:
When we last discussed Divergent at Sundance, we spoke of how relevant the story is to the times we live in.
That’s part of the reason why I did this movie. There’s so much opportunity for conversation since the movie is so metaphorical to today’s society. One of the most beautiful quotes in the book is when Tris says, “Back in the day, my mom had a choice between eating naturally-irrigated food and genetically-engineered foods. Now, there is no choice. That’s all we have.” I thought that was so powerful because we’re getting to a point where all agriculture is going to depend on seeds that were created in a lab—which is so counterintuitive to the way Mother Nature meant it to be. There’s the issue of a tyrant taking over and genocide—someone going in, choosing a particular class of people, and murdering them by brainwashing other people. And there’s the issue of spying on other people and this whole drone situation going on now.
Right. In Divergent, the Dauntless faction is implanted with chips that track them, and are also brainwashed into committing genocide.
It’s crazy. I just got back to L.A., where I live, and me and my friend were in the carpool lane driving under a sign and it went beep-beep, and I was like, “What’s that?” And she said, “Oh, it’s this new thing you can buy that allows you to drive in the carpool lane and it registers with these signs, and every time you go under one of these signs it tells you you’re going under it.” There’s no privacy anymore! There are cameras everywhere, there’s technology everywhere, everything’s out in the Internet. It’s like 1984. It’s a weird time to be alive. It’s a beautiful time to be alive, but it’s different from the past because technology is so advanced today, so there’s really no precedent when it comes to our privacy.
Are you worried about your own privacy? You’re about to become a bigger star because of Divergent, and we’ve already seen how the UK press has treated celebrities when it comes to hacking.
Not really. The thing with privacy is I’m just going to make sure that whatever I hold sacred stays sacred. What I hold dear to my heart is nobody’s business in the same way whatever you hold dear to your heart is nobody’s business, unless you’re willing to share that. As far as the hacking stuff goes, I don’t really have to worry about that. I’m not a big technology person. I don’t even have a smartphone. I don’t even have a cellphone! And if I were to have one, it would be a flip-phone. There’s a bigger lack of privacy than there’s ever been, but there’s also a bigger lack of camaraderie and community than there’s ever been. I mean … just asking people for directions. Since I got rid of my phone, having to pull over and be like, “Hey, buddy—do you know how to get here?” I’m talking to people more than I’ve ever talked to in my life because I no longer have that crutch. The more you get away from all the technological buzz, the more freedom you have.
I also saw a metaphor in the film when it comes to the Erudite faction, the conservative, buttoned-up, capitalistic group, and Abnegation—the more social welfare-oriented faction interested in helping the poor through various programs. Erudite is trying to wrestle control of the government away from Abnegation via nefarious schemes. It seemed like the Erudite stood in for right-wingers.
That’s the thing with this book—there are so many correlations. The whole government-takeover thing is a huge deal, whether it’s right-wing, left-wing, or Timbuktu. Because of the state of the economy, there’s so much more tension in politics right now than I can ever remember. I don’t really know enough about politics to go into it in any detail, but the interesting thing about the movie is: you have two very strong, very bright, very empowered, very brave females—Kate, the antagonist, and my character, the protagonist—but if you look at it from an objective point of view, neither character is bad. If this movie was told from Kate’s point of view, Tris would be the antagonist. We don’t know what Kate’s intentions are. Yes, chipping people and telling them to wipe people out is mental, but Tris is also murdering people. Sure, she’s killing people based on what she believes in, but she’s still killing people. It’s The Art of War. So it’s tough to judge them based solely on their intentions. It’s their actions—what they end up doing—coupled with their intentions, that matter. If the Republicans or the Democrats started murdering a bunch of people, that action doesn’t necessarily say what their intention is, but it says how far they’ll go to fight for what they believe in.