In Divergent, Caleb is born into Abnegation and along with his sister, Tris he selects a faction based on his quest to improve the society. He cares more about the greater good of society than he does individual people, so he chooses Erudite (Intelligence). The decision to transfer is not too difficult for Caleb, because he feels that growing up in Abnegation, he wasn’t told anything by his peers. He’s unaware that the Dauntless leadership is involved in a conspiracy to take over the government led by the Erudite leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
The nineteen year-old actor who starred in Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie, will next be seen in Jason Reitman’s sexual comedy, Men, Women & Children, alongside Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler.
Screen Rant catches up with Elgort to talk about his character and the Divergent world.
Screen Rant: Talk about your character and how he fits into the storyline?
Ansel Elgort: I play Caleb Prior and I’m Beatrice Prior’s brother. Beatrice is the main character. I’m about nine months older than her so I guess I’m her older brother but we’re pretty much the same age. And this point in your life in the world of Divergent, you choose whether you want to stay in the faction you were born into with your family or if you want to switch factions, go to a different faction. Both of us do and it’s a big deal because it’s called defecting and most people don’t leave their family. But we do and then conflict arises.
SR: And we have another two movies to go…
Ansel Elgort: Yeah.
SR: So when you first read the script, could you relate to your character? He’s kind of sure of himself compared to his sister.
Ansel Elgort: Yeah, definitely. I’m very different from Caleb. I think I’m pretty much different from every character I play, you have to find your similarities and you have to find what you share in common because when you build a character you take certain parts of yourself, leave out certain parts of yourself and you put it inside the shell and that’s who you become and so it’s a weird thing being an actor but that’s what you do. With Caleb, I took the part of myself – Caleb is very forward thinking. He’s logical. He wants to be the best he can be and he wants to learn too which is something I like to do. I like to learn new things all the time.
SR: Let’s talk about the camaraderie on set. There’s a huge cast, did you all band together or were you segregated like your factions?
Ansel Elgort: No even though they were Dauntless and I was Erudite, we still hung out a little bit. At the end of the day we were allowed to leave our factions without becoming factionless and go back to our hotel. So we hung out and I played a lot of basketball. We had a nice little court down at our hotel so that was fun. Yeah, it’s fun doing a movie with a lot of young people. It’s like going to summer camp.
SR: Ashley Judd plays your mother and you have scenes with Kate Winslet. What did you learn from them?
Ansel Elgort: Just being around them, you are sort of like, wow this is what’s it like being around a superstar and act with them which was really cool. Kate also gave me really good advice about handling your career as an actor and be careful to keep yourself pure, because you become everyone’s when you’re an actor or a celebrity or whatever. I don’t know if that’s going to happen to me but it might and if this movie is as successful as it should be because it’s very good, it very well could happen. You need to keep your life normal at the same time as it isn’t anymore. She gave me that advice and it was really helpful.
SR: Which faction would you choose?
Ansel Elgort: I think everyone would get Divergent in real life because no one is just one thing. You can’t really test it because your brain, people like to think of themselves as one thing but you’re not. But I would choose Amity.
Other cast members include: Shailene Woodley (Tris); Ashley Judd (Natalie); Kate Winslet (Jeanine); Tony Goldwyn (Andrew); Jai Courtney (Eric); Zoe Kravitz (Christina); Maggie Q (Tori); Mekhi Phifer (Max); and Miles Teller (Peter).
Divergent opens in theaters on March 21.