Neil Burger

March 26, 2014 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Divergent’ director on why he cut, changed scenes from the book

Adapting an already-beloved book for the big screen is no easy feat, but with “Divergent,” director Neil Burger says he wasn’t afraid of the fans. In developing “Divergent,” based on Veronica Roth’s bestselling young-adult book trilogy, Burger made major changes to the details of heroine Tris Prior’s tale while aiming to stay true to the spirit of the story. The movie follows Tris (Shailene Woodley) as she tries to find her place in a future society in which young people are sorted and divided into factions based on personality. Tris finds out she is divergent, meaning she has an aptitude for multiple factions — a trait that could get her killed in the rigidly divided society. She decides to keep her divergence a secret and joins Dauntless, the faction based on bravery. For the film, Burger changed several aspects of […]
March 25, 2014 | 3:21 p.m.

‘Divergent’ director: Working with young cast was like ‘herding cats’

“Divergent” was No. 1 at the box office over the weekend, and pre-production for the sequel “Insurgent” is already underway. The second installment in the planned movie trilogy, based on the bestselling young adult book series by Veronica Roth, is slated for a March 20, 2015, release and will be directed by Robert Schwentke, the German-born director whose credits include “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “Flightplan,” “Red” and “R.I.P.D.” Schwentke takes the reins from “Divergent” director Neil Burger, who laid the groundwork for the story’s second act. Burger, who expressed sadness to be leaving the franchise,  said he’s proud of his decisions for the first film, especially its casting. Shailene Woodley, the 22-year-old actress whose performances in “The Spectacular Now” and “The Descendants” turned critics’ heads, stars as the film’s young heroine, Tris Prior, a girl trying to find her place in a future world […]
March 25, 2014 | 10:28 a.m.

‘Divergent': Ashley Judd on Natalie Prior, wiping out Woodley

Ashley Judd in "Divergent." (Jaap Buitendijk / Summit Entertainment)
“Divergent” dominated at the box office over the weekend, shining a spotlight on the talents of young actress Shailene Woodley, who plays the film’s heroine Tris Prior. Woodley was supported by a large cast of many up-and-comers and a handful of seasoned Hollywood veterans, including Kate Winslet, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q and Ashley Judd, who plays Tris’ mother Natalie Prior. “Divergent,” based on the bestselling young adult book series by Veronica Roth, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where people are sorted into factions based on personality. Judd and Woodley’s characters are members of Abnegation, the faction based on selflessness, but after Tris finds out she’s divergent (meaning she has aptitude for multiple factions — something that’s not allowed in the rigidly divided society), she decides to hide her divergence and join Dauntless, the faction that values bravery. Though the society lives […]
March 23, 2014 | 3:58 p.m.

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

APphoto_Film Review Divergent
“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 […]
March 22, 2014 | 2:30 p.m.

‘Divergent’ filmmakers talk finding Tris, Eric’s menacing tattoos

APphoto_Film Review Divergent
“Divergent” director Neil Burger and producer Doug Wick went to great lengths to assemble a dynamic young cast for the film, but the movie’s most important role came easily, according to Wick, after a meeting with actress Shailene Woodley, who had just come off “The Descendants.” “We were preparing to do a worldwide search,” Wick said at a Hero Complex preview screening of “Divergent” March 19 at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX theater. “She seemed so exactly Tris. The worldwide search quickly went away.” Based on a novel by Veronica Roth and set in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, “Divergent” stars Woodley as a young woman who doesn’t fit into any one faction. MORE: What Shailene Woodley’s costars had to say about her Burger, Wick, and Jai Courtney, who plays Eric, the […]
March 22, 2014 | 8:21 a.m.

‘Divergent': Neil Burger on his approach to creating dystopian Chicago

Zoe Kravitz Shailene Woodley
“Divergent” director Neil Burger wanted his adaptation of Veronica Roth’s dystopian novel to feel different from other futuristic cinema in a crucial way. “We’ve seen other movies set in the future — they’re often dark and cold looking and grim and bleak,” Burger said at a Hero Complex preview screening of “Divergent” March 19 at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX theater. “I thought, maybe there’s a different way to go at this… to make the society seem… kind of inviting. It’s much more luminous and the colors are warmer to start with.” Set in a futuristic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, “Divergent” stars Shailene Woodley as a young woman who doesn’t fit into any one faction. MORE: What Shailene Woodley’s costars had to say about her Along with Burger, producer Doug Wick and actor […]
March 16, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Divergent': Maggie Q talks Tori, tough heroines, action films as art

Maggie Q in "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)
“Divergent” is opening in theaters in less than a week, bringing the first installment of Veronica Roth’s dystopian adventure story to the big screen. The film, directed by Neil Burger and based on Roth’s bestselling book trilogy, is set in a future society where teenagers are tested and strictly divided into factions based on their personalities. Young heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) discovers she is divergent, meaning she doesn’t fit neatly into any single faction. It’s a quality that could get her killed, and she decides to hide it at the urging of Tori, the woman who administers Tris’ personality test. Tori, portrayed in the film by Maggie Q, is a member of Dauntless, the faction based on bravery. Though bold and confident, she is reticent about her past and about her understanding of divergence. Maggie Q is the star […]
March 15, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

‘Divergent': Jai Courtney and Miles Teller on being the bad guys

"Divergent" actors Jai Courtney, left, and Miles Teller. (Summit Entertainment)
“Divergent” fans have less than a week to wait to see Veronica Roth’s dystopian adventure story unfold on the big screen. The film, directed by Neil Burger and based on Roth’s bestselling young adult book, is set in a future society where people are tested and strictly divided into factions based on their personalities. The tale follows young heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) as she joins Dauntless, the faction based on bravery, and faces off against some intimidating, tattoo-clad tough guys, not least of which are Jai Courtney’s Eric and Miles Teller’s Peter. Courtney’s character is a Dauntless leader who oversees training of the new initiates, but his brutal and cruel methods put him at odds with his young trainees. Teller’s Peter is an initiate who is a bully to his peers and a formidable foe in the fighting ring. Courtney […]
March 14, 2014 | 4:05 p.m.

‘Divergent’ director Neil Burger: Tris Prior’s tale is a hero myth

Ben Lloyd Hughes, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley in "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)
Tris Prior may be arriving on the big screen after Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games,” Clary Fray of “The Mortal Instruments” and the princesses of “Frozen,” but “Divergent” director Neil Burger sees the film’s young protagonist as more than just the latest in a recent string of booty-kicking heroines. Rather, Burger says, the leading lady in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s bestselling novel is an example of a classic mythical hero. “Divergent,” which makes its theatrical debut in a week, follows Tris (Shailene Woodley) as she tries to find her place in a future world where people are categorized by their personalities and strictly divided into factions based on those virtues. Tris is born into Abnegation, the faction that values selflessness, but her personality test reveals she is divergent, meaning she doesn’t fit neatly into any single faction. […]
March 10, 2014 | 6:15 a.m.

‘Divergent': IMAX screening March 19 with Jai Courtney, Neil Burger

The wait to see Tris Prior on the big screen just got a little shorter. Hero Complex will host a free IMAX screening of “Divergent” on Wednesday, March 19, at the AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX in Burbank beginning at 7:30 p.m. Following the screening, “Divergent” actor Jai Courtney, director Neil Burger and producers Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick will be on hand for a Q&A moderated by Hero Complex contributor Rebecca Keegan. To RSVP for the IMAX screening, log on to www.latimes.com/Divergent starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday; RSVPs will close as soon as the screening is full. Adapted from the bestselling young adult fantasy by author Veronica Roth, “Divergent” stars Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants,” “The Spectacular Now”) as heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who lives in a dystopian future version of Chicago where people are tested and divided into five […]
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