Afraid of heights? Let’s just say you probably wouldn’t make it in Dauntless.
The highly anticipated adaptation of Veronica Roth’s best-selling Divergent is still filming in Chicago, but EW has gotten this exclusive first look of Tris (Shailene Woodley) out on a ledge and perched to jump as part of initiation into her faction. For those of who haven’t read the books, in the dystopian world of Divergent, all of society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (selfless); Erudite (intelligent); Candor (honest); Amity (peaceful) and Dauntless (brave). Our heroine, sixteen-year-old Tris Prior, has chosen the Dauntless faction which involves a lot of very scary initiation tests—like the time she stood still while knives were thrown at her head.
“In this photo she’s already jumped off the train and onto a seven story building as part of the initiation rite for the Dauntless,” explains director Neil Burger. “The next thing they have to do is jump from the building and down through a courtyard that has a deep, black hole. It’s terrifying.”
And filming this scene sounds almost as frightening. “We’d been nervously planning it because it is dangerous and there’s a lot of people on that roof,” says Burger, who used the former Spiegel building for this location. “We had to pull it off safely and also pull it off cinematically, so you have this knot in your stomach as you watch this young woman decide to do this crazy thing. We had great weather that day and I think this scene really is emblematic of the movie: It shows the energy and the rawness of the way we’re telling the story,” he says.
The cast of actors—which include Theo James, Miles Teller, Ben Lamb and Zoe Kravitz—all have to do all sorts of stomach-lurching things, such as jumping off of elevated trains and scaling great heights. Their director says they’re a group ready for any challenge, especially his leading lady. “Shailene says she’s not afraid of heights but that she’s afraid of falling,” says Burger, with a laugh. “This makes perfect sense to me. But she really did stand on that ledge—this is a real photo. She’s incredibly game and so adventurous,” he says. “In a way, she’s very Dauntless.”