The Divergent cast includes fan-favorite stars Maggie Q and Mekhi Phifer - who are both currently starring in hit television shows. Q, who leads as the title role in Nikita, is also known for her role in J.J. Abrams’ Mission Impossible III, in which she starred alongside Tom Cruise and in Live Free or Die Hard with Bruce Willis. A strong action star, Q is aptly cast as a divergent, Tori, an exotic tattoo artist who is in the faction Dauntless. She acts as a mentor to Tris (Shailene Woodley).
Phifer, whose character, Max is at the top of the Dauntless leadership, took a break from shooting the Showtime series, House of Lies to film Divergent in Chicago. His movie credits include: Spike Lee’s Clockers with Harvey Keitel and John Turturro, Dawn of the Dead opposite Ving Rhames, and in Curtis Hanson’s critically acclaimed 8 Mile with Eminem.
Directed by Neil Burger, Divergent is based on the novels penned by Veronica Roth. Screen Rant sits down with Maggie Q and Mekhi Phifer - to discuss the fascination with futuristic thrillers and which faction they would select!
Screen Rant: I saw the movie with a big audience last night and they were hooting and hollering and they got really into it. Have you seen it with an audience? It was packed!
Maggie Q: Ah, right!
Mekhi Phifer: I haven’t seen it with an audience, no.
Maggie Q: When you say it was packed it wasn’t like a ten person theatre? That’s what directors say, right?
SR: There were twelve! No it was packed. People were lining up and screaming. Talk about your preparation for your characters. Maggie, you’re a bit of an action lady and you didn’t get to run around a lot!
Maggie Q: I didn’t do any action in this movie and I came off of my show which had a lot of action in to this and I was thinking "God, I’m lucky I didn’t have to jump into any physicality on this film" - because I think it would have just run me into the ground.
SR: So tell us about your characters.
Mekhi Phifer: I play Max, the leader of the Dauntless factor. He’s a bit of a mystery in this first installment. We don’t know what his motivations are. You know there’s something going on. He’s in cahoots with Kate [Winslet’s character Jeanine Matthews] and something is happening but we don’t really know yet and so I’m looking forward to the second installment.
Maggie Q: I play Tori, who like Max is a long time Dauntless member, and the mentor to Tris’ character and the woman who finds out what her service status is and kind of becomes an unwilling and kind of unlikely ally for her in this world.
SR: They’re predicting this opening is going to be as big as The Hunger Games. How does it feel to be a part of this big franchise? Is it a bit overwhelming or is this a dream come true?
Mekhi Phifer: I think it feels great, I mean you know it’s nice because we all feel really good about the film and we feel really good about our work. It’s nice to know that the masses will see it. Somebody else brought it up earlier that we’ve done smaller things that I’ve had to work a lot harder on and we’re practically on our knees begging the audience to go and see it! "I’m telling you it’s good! Please trust me!" And you just don’t get the same notoriety and so to do something that’s really good and to get the eyes on it...
Maggie Q: Right, to get the exposure.
Mekhi Phifer: To get the exposure is really cool.
SR: Why do you think we are we so hungry for these futuristic thrillers about survival? We’ve got The Maze Runner coming out soon and of course, Hunger Games did well.
Maggie Q: Yeah, we have a fascination with the future. I think we always have. The future now as it stands in 2014 is dystopian or post-apocalyptic or whatever it is they decide it’s going to be in that film in particular. This one I think deals with heavier themes with what the future looks like. It deals with heavier themes with what the government may look like, about the semblance of control, how are they going to go about it and what their limitation is. And outside of those big themes, really I feel we are just watching an emotional journey about this young girl who is becoming a woman and love and loss and family. There’s a theme for everyone and that’s why I love this film. It’s not a kid’s film. It’s not a young adult film. It’s just a film.
SR: If you were to take an aptitude test, which category would you pick?
Maggie Q: Well if you take an aptitude test it picks you, so which one would we read?
SR: Which one will you read?
Maggie Q: Right now we both feel Candor! (Laughs)
Mekhi Phifer: Candor.
SR: Did you start off with feeling something this morning and it’s now changed?
Mekhi Phifer: Yes!
Maggie Q: Well, we feel rooted in Dauntless.
Mekhi Phifer: Rooted in Dauntless, no question about it. But Candor would be the most realistic right now! At 16, it would have been Dauntless without a doubt.
SR: Great, thank you for your time.
Maggie Q: Thank you so much.
Mekhi Phifer: Thank you.
Other cast members include: Shailene Woodley (Tris); Theo James (Four); Ashley Judd (Natalie); Kate Winslet (Jeanine); Tony Goldwyn (Andrew); Zoe Kravitz (Christina); Jai Courtney (Eric); and Miles Teller (Peter).
Divergent opens in theaters on March 21.