‘Divergent’ director talks deviating from Veronica Roth novel, fan ire

March 23, 2014 | 3:58 p.m.
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Ben Lloyd Hughes, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley in "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)

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Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Ben Lamb, Zoe Kravitz and Jai Courtney in "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)

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Shailene Woodley, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn and Ansel Elgort in "Divergent." (Jaap Buitendijk / Summit Entertainment)

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Theo James, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller and Ben Lloyd Hughes in "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)

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Shailene Woodley, author Veronica Roth and director Neil Burger on the set of "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)

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Theo James, left, and Shailene Woodley in "Divergent." (Jaap Buitendijk / Summit Entertainment)

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Shailene Woodley, left, and Theo James in "Divergent." (Jaap Buitendijk / Summit Entertainment)

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Director Neil Burger, left, Jai Courtney and Theo James on the set of "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)

“Divergent” director Neil Burger had to create a vivid future Chicago, cast a unique, young female warrior and distill Veronica Roth’s dense, 487-page book into a 139-minute movie. But perhaps his trickiest task was to make a movie that would satisfy “Divergent’s” loyal fan base.

At a Hero Complex preview screening of the film March 19 at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX theater, Burger discussed how he handled fan expectations and how involved Roth was in the production — right down to a cameo role.

“I had thousands of questions for her,” Burger said.

Set in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, “Divergent” stars Shailene Woodley as Tris, a young woman who doesn’t fit into any one faction.

PROFILE: Shailene Woodley embraces being divergent

Actor Jai Courtney, who plays Eric, an intimidating leader of the Dauntless faction, and producer Doug Wick also appeared at the Hero Complex screening.

At the Q&A, Wick explained some of the liberties he and Burger took with Roth’s story, including adding a dramatic, final confrontation scene that doesn’t appear in the book.  

“In the book you can describe Tris’ feelings,” Wick said. “In the movie it was really important to see this young woman standing up to this really powerful adult.”

To find out first about upcoming films that will be featured in the Hero Complex Screening Series, follow us on Twitter: @LATherocomplex.

– Rebecca Keegan | @ThatRebecca

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