'Divergent' Interview: Ashley Judd & Tony Goldwyn on Parenting a 'Divergent'

Divergent Interview Ashley Judd Tony Goldwyn

Veteran actors Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn reunite for a fourth project - this time to play Beatrice Prior’s (Shailene Woodley) parents in the post-apocalyptic adventure thriller, Divergent.

Veronica Roth’s Divergent novels, which is set to give Hunger Games a run for its money, takes place in a dystopian setting, with a totalitarian government, in the aftermath of a social war. A societal structure has been imposed to maintain the peace, wherein every teen is assigned to one of five different factions, based on different virtues. Those who do not "fit" into one category are classed as "divergents" and seen as a threat to society.

Both Natalie (Judd) and Andrew (Goldwyn) are in the Abnegation (selflessness) faction. Like her daughter Tris, Natalie is a divergent but chose Abnegation to save her life. Their son, Caleb (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite (Intelligence). She tells her children she will love and support them no matter which faction they select, knowing full well if they don’t choose Abnegation, she will never see them again - whereas Andrew grows angry when his children are assigned other factions.

A fiercely strong actress, Judd has scored box office hits in several films: Kiss the Girls and High Crimes, both with Morgan Freeman, Michael Mann's Heat, opposite Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, and she’s currently in production on the sequel to Dolphin Tale. Goldwyn even directed her in 2001’s Someone Like You.

March Movie Preview - Divergent

While on hiatus from his hit TV show Scandal in which he plays President Fitzgerald Grant, Goldwyn is producing a new series, The Divide, which was picked by the WE network.

Talking to Screen Rant, the pair explain their reasons for joining the Divergent cast.

Screen Rant: Tony you directed Ashley Judd in Someone Like You, was it enticing for you to take on this role so you could work with Ashley again or was Ashley already on board?

Tony Goldwyn: I think it was around the same time right?

Ashley Judd: They expressed great taste in casting us simultaneously without either of us knowing! (Winks)

Tony Goldwyn: That’s right. I found out shortly afterwards that Ashley was doing it and I was so happy. Yeah, because it was not only Someone Like You, but also Kiss the Girls and I think this is our fourth time working together.

SR: So what kind of parents are Natalie and Andrew?

Ashley Judd: I think very good parents. Fitting for folks who chose to be in the Abnegation faction we’re spiritual beings having a human experience. We’re very aspirational in the kitchen scene. The night before our children choose which faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives, including the risk that we will never see them again, give them our unqualified blessing. I love you no matter what. And then of course, naturally we have a lament when they in fact choose differently. So I think that we are pretty darn real.

Tony Goldwyn: I agree.

SR: Ashley, I feel like we haven’t seen you very much. You play very strong roles, what was it about this script that you had to jump on board?

Ashley Judd: Well for me, Natalie Prior was a complete emotional experience, because I’m engaged in the political world. I have great social concerns. There’s the maternal and nurturing devotion to children and there’s also a fierce warrior.  That’s a natural part of Natalie and more of that comes to light particularly in the third book of Veronica Roth’s phenomenal series. Without totally distracting me from the richness of my whole life, which includes a lot of international service work, being really involved with the family of choice and graduate school and all that kind of stuff, I got to come and make a very special film and have a great creative experience.

'Divergent' roof-jumping scene

SR: And have you both read the books? 

Tony Goldwyn: Yes. I haven’t read all of them, but I read Divergent. I hadn’t when I read the script and yes, they’re wonderful.

SR: Which faction would you both choose if you had the choice?

Ashley Judd: I think on different days of the week I would choose different factions. (Laughs) I would definitely create an ‘At home in my nightgown barefoot’ faction! You know sitting amongst the daffodils reading a book, but there’s a part of me that would clearly be Dauntless and I’d like that fun loving Amity part.

Tony Goldwyn: I would be Divergent, the idea of sequestering myself with one personality type would make me crazy, I couldn’t do it.

SR: Thank you for your time.

Ashley Judd: Thank you!

Tony Goldwyn: Thank you.


Other cast members include:  Shailene Woodley (Tris); Theo James (Four); Kate Winslet (Jeanine); Jai Courtney (Eric); Zoe Kravitz (Christina); Maggie Q (Tori); Mekhi Phifer (Max); and Miles Teller (Peter).

Divergent opens in theaters on March 21.

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