The Young Adult genre has been around for a long time. Films like 1988’s The Outsiders have captivated teens for decades, but it was when the YA genre turned to science fiction that those type of films started to flourish. Yet, it took some time for the flourishing to transpire. After 2006’s Eragon became one of the worst reviewed movies of its time and 2008’s City of Ember bombed at the box office, many thought the YA genre was done for. Then, entered Lionsgate with Twilight.
After Lionsgate earned over a billion dollars with The Hunger Games franchise, and turned Jennifer Lawrence into a Hollywood star, it needed another young adult science fiction novel to make into a movie behemoth. Hence, the Divergent film saga was born. The new franchise brought on new faces and opened doors for many of those talented stars.
Unfortunately, though, not every young adult novel is destined for film glory. With the third Divergent film bombing at the box office, the end was near for the beloved franchise. Many of the actors that the series introduced went along with their careers, landing big movie roles. Sadly, others didn’t have such luck.
Here are 10 Divergent Stars Who Became A-Listers (And 7 Who Flopped).
17 Miles Teller (A-lister)
Many remember Miles Teller as being the annoying and sometimes mean character of Peter Hayes in the Divergent series, but after and before Divergent, Teller was already a star.
He quickly became a rising star after his phenomenal performance as drummer Andrew Neiman in Damien Chazelle’s 2014 film Whiplash. That movie was nominated for several Academy Awards and eventually won three Oscars for Best Mixing, Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons.
Though Teller wasn’t recognized for his performance in Whiplash, Hollywood still noticed and soon he started landing big roles.
Unfortunately, one of those big roles Teller landed was in 2015’s Fantastic Four, as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. That film was a critical and box office failure, but thankfully it wasn’t enough to totally wreck Teller’s career. Soon after, he landed the lead role opposite Jonah Hill in 2016’s War Dogs and later that year starred as boxer Vinny Pazienza in Bleed for This.
In 2017, Teller joined Josh Brolin in the biographical drama film Only The Brave and in October of that year captivated audiences with his performance in Thank You For Your Service as Staff Sergeant Adam Schumann.
This year, Teller is set to star alongside Aubrey Plaza in The Ark and the Aardvark, an animated retelling of Noah’s Ark.
16 Zoe Kravitz (A-lister)
Zoe Kravitz was already on her way of becoming an A-lister way before she landed the role of Christina on the Divergent film series. She first started gaining recognition after her roles in movies like Birds of America, Beware the Gonzo, and Yelling to the Sky, but it was after X-Men: First Class that Kravitz began her rise to stardom. Soon after the mutant superhero movie, she was cast as Christina in 2014’s Divergent. It was after Divergent that Kravitz truly became an A-lister.
One of her biggest movies after the Divergent series was the Rick Famuyiwa film Dope, which she starred in before reprising her role as Christina the following year in Insurgent. Her biggest movie after Divergent, though, is undoubtedly Mad Max: Fury Road, where she played Toast the Knowing. That movie went on to win several Academy Awards, including Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Costume Design.
Kravitz’s Mad Max-fame soon landed her even bigger roles. She voiced catwoman in 2017’s The LEGO Batman Movie and this year will star as Leta Lestrange in Fantastic Beasts: The Crime of Grindelwald. She even had a cameo as Leta in the original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and co-stars in HBO's Emmy winning series Big Little Lies.
15 Theo James (Flopped)
The English actor Theo James first stepped into the Hollywood spotlight when he appeared in the 2010 Woody Allen film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, which starred Antonio Banderas, Naomi Watts, and a number of other established actors.
It was with 2012’s Underworld: Awakening that James began to cause some noise. His performance as the vampire David captivated the Underworld fandom and then, two years later in 2014, James landed his most iconic role in the Divergent film series as Tobias “Four” Eaton.
The series definitely elevated the English actor to new heights, but unfortunately, James career didn’t really take off like the careers of his Divergent co-stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. After the second Divergent film, Insurgent, James appeared in The Benefactor and War on Everyone, but none of those films managed to steer the actor to bigger roles.
Following the third Divergent film, Allegiant, James reprised his role of David in 2016’s Underworld: Blood Wars.
With the Underworld franchise losing more and more momentum as time flies, it’s not looking pretty for James' movie franchises.
It’s unfortunate as James truly is a very talented actor. Hopefully his upcoming 2018 films Zoe and How It Ends can help him get back in the game.
14 Ansel Elgort (A-Lister)
At the same time as starring as Caleb Prior in the Divergent film series, Ansel Elgort was known for a very different type of movie, The Fault in Our Stars. That film saw the actor team up with his Divergent co-star Shailene Woodley in a teen romantic drama where both of their characters had cancer. The Fault in Our Stars brought fame to Elgort and he and Woodley eventually moved on to Divergent.
Like many of the entries on this list, the series brought extra fame to the talented Elgort, and soon better opportunities started to present themselves. Among those opportunities was Edgar Wright’s Oscar-nominated film Baby Driver, where Elgort starred in the main role.
Baby Driver became an international sensation at the time of its release, due to its stunning car chases and use of practical effects. Renowned director Edgar Wright’s style of filmmaking brought the film’s concept to life and behind the wheel of it all was Elgort. He played the character of Baby in the film, a role that took him straight to stardom. Even children were dressing up as Baby for Halloween - if that doesn’t spell out A-lister then nothing does.
Elgort is set to star as the main lead opposite Taron Egerton and Emma Roberts in this year’s Billionaire Boys Club.
13 Jai Courtney (Flopped)
Jai Courtney has had a rather interesting career. Before landing his role of Eric Coulter in the Divergent film series, Courtney had already appeared in various star franchises.
In 2012 he was one of the main villains in Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher and then the following year in 2013, he starred opposite Bruce Willis in A Good Day To Die Hard. Yet, even though Courtney played the son of the iconic movie character John McClain, that wasn’t enough to make him a Hollywood household name. Then until Divergent came along.
The YA film quickly took the Australian actor to stardom, but unfortunately what came next in Courtney’s career was just a mix of missed opportunities.
He played the main role in 2015’s Terminator: Genisys. That movie hoped to reboot and rebrand the Terminator franchise, but fans and critics alike agreed that Genisys was a step backwards. Indeed, even though the film didn’t disappoint as an action flick, it sadly didn’t live up to any of the previous Terminator installments.
Courtney’s next missed opportunity came with Suicide Squad. The DC film was not a hit among critics and left the fanbase divided. Even more, Courtney’s Boomerang character was totally forgettable, unlike the Joker and Harley Quinn who now have movies coming out.
12 Shailene Woodley (A-lister)
Shailene Woodley stepped into the Hollywood spotlight when she landed the lead role in the Divergent series. As Tris Prior, she immediately connected with audiences around the world, creating a fanbase that’s been following her ever since.
Woodley’s incredible fanbase can be seen on social media and the like, supporting her every move. Such was the case when Woodley, an avid environmental activist, was arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Her fans quickly created a call to action to help circulate Woodley’s cause around the interwebs. Only A-listers can achieve such a wonderful feat.
Indeed, what makes Woodley an A-lister is not just her talents on screen, but her contributions to the world off-camera. She founded a non-profit organization to teach young people how to better treat themselves and the environment called All it Takes. The organization has led Woodley to win several environmental awards, including the Female Environmental Media Association Futures Award in 2016.
After Divergent, Woodley’s career took on a different path. Instead of opting for action-adventure films akin to the Divergent series, she instead focused her talents on heavy dramas and political thrillers. Following Allegiant, Woodley starred opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Oliver Stone’s Snowden. This year, she plays the main lead in the romantic drama Adrift.
On television, Woodley stars alongside Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon on HBO’s Award-winning series Big Littles Lies.
11 Ray Stevenson (Flopped)
Ray Stevenson has appeared in many big movies and franchises throughout his career. He first landed the role of Dagonet on the 2004 epic King Arthur and then went along to star as Frank Castle/The Punisher in 2008’s Punisher: War Zone. While both films didn’t necessarily lift Stevenson’s career, he then made an appearance in The Book of Eli opposite Denzel Washington.
Then in 2011, he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as one of Thor’s best friends, Volstagg. Nevertheless, Stevenson’s inclusion in the MCU is so minimal he was eliminated instantly in Thor: Ragnarok. That’s why his biggest movie franchise to date has been the Divergent film series.
In Divergent he played Marcus Eaton, the villainous father of Theo James’ Four. Stevenson appeared in all three of the Divergent movies.
After his run in Divergent, Stevenson has seemingly disappeared from the big screen.
Yet, it seems that his career on the small screen has taken a totally different turn. He was the star of the HBO television series Rome, where he played Titus Pullo. That show went along to garner great acclaim. Then in 2016, Stevenson played the iconic character of Blackbeard on Starz’s Black Sails. Since then, Stevenson has appeared in a number of small films.
10 Bill Skarsgard (A-lister)
He is known for a very different kind of role nowadays, but many forget that Bill Skarsgard was part of the Divergent film series. Though he made his Divergent debut rather late in the third installment, Allegiant, his performance was celebrated by fans. In that film, he played the character of Matthew.
Allegiant may have given Skarsgard the right push forward as it was after that film that his career really took off. He first landed the role of Merkel in David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde, a spy thriller that made Charlize Theron more intense than Keanu Reeves in John Wick.
It was with Warner Bros.’s IT that Skarsgard won the world over.
In IT, Skarsgard played the villainous role of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. While some fans still praise the original Pennywise from the classic limited series, many are now claiming that Skarsgard’s is now the definitive version of the evil clown. Skarsgard will once again don the clown make-up when IT: Chapter 2 comes around in 2019.
The IT movie definitely propelled Skarsgard to new heights and in 2018 he even appeared in Deadpool 2, which was also directed by David Leitch. In that movie Skarsgard played Zeitgeist, a mutant superhero with the ability to spew acidic vomit.
9 Tony Goldwyn (Flopped)
Tony Goldwyn has been around for a long time. His filmography is extensive enough to garner him a lifetime achievement award, and that’s with roles in very good movies. He appeared in the 1995 Oscar-nominated film Nixon and starred in the 1990 cult hit Ghost, which arguably jump-started his road to the top.
While Goldwyn hasn’t been a leading actor for most of his career, mostly serving as a supporting actor, he landed the main role in the Disney animated classic Tarzan, voicing Tarzan himself. His next big movie came with Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai, where Goldwyn had a prominent role with lots of screen time. All seem well then when he was cast as Andrew Prior in the Divergent film series.
As the father of Shailene Woodley’s Tris Prior, Godlwyn nabbed a leading spot in a booming film franchise, but all good things come to an end eventually. After his character perished, that was it for Goldwyn in the Divergent series.
Since the franchise, Goldwyn has appeared in a variety of movies, with his biggest so far being Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House. Unfortunately, that film and his others after Divergent haven’t been successful at the box office or critically.
8 Keiynan Lonsdale (A-lister)
Keiynan Lonsdale appeared on the Australian teen drama Dance Academy before transitioning to the Hollywood stage. His first big movie role was in the second Divergent film, Insurgent, where he played Uriah Pedrad.
That was in 2015 and that same year Lonsdale nabbed the role of Wally West/Kid Flash on ThCW’s The Flash. Lonsdale didn’t have that big of a role in the following Divergent film, Allegiant, but his road to success was already mapped when that franchise eventually ended.
Lonsdale appeared in the 2016 film The Finest Hours, which starred Chris Pine and Ben Foster. Then in 2017 he was the main protagonist of the festival horror flick Like.Share.Follow.
Lonsdale once again rocked the silver screen in 2018 with his performance as Bram Greenfeld in this year’s Love, Simon.
That film was directed by Greg Berlanti, who also produces most of DC’s superhero shows on TheCW. Lonsdale as Wally West is more of a recurring character on The Flash. He gets much more screen time on the time-traveling show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Lonsdale recently announced, though, that he will be leaving The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow to refocus his career. Since, so far his career’s been on an excellent path, expect him in even bigger movie roles very soon.
7 Ashley Judd (Flopped)
Ashley Judd's had memorable roles in a number of 1990s movies and made a name for herself in the early 2000s. Her best films include 1997’s Kiss the Girls, 2002’s High Crimes, and 1993’s Ruby in Paradise, which legendary film critic Roger Ebert called one of the best films of that year.
Indeed, there’s no better way to describe Judd than as a phenomenal actress, but unfortunately her career early on was deeply damaged by Harvey Weinstein. Judd filed a lawsuit against the infamous movie producer claiming that he spread lies about her, which ultimately hurt her career. Nevertheless, she persisted and after securing several roles in films like Dolphin Tale and Olympus Has Fallen, she finally nabbed a leading role in a booming movie franchise, the Divergent series.
In Divergent she played the mother of Tris Prior, Natalie Prior, and went on to appear in all three of the series’ installments. After the third installment, though, Judd made a switch to the small screen and appeared in the 2017 TV series Twin Peaks and Berlin Station.
She hasn’t appeared in any big movies as of lately, opting for smaller films as in Netflix’s Barry, where she played Ann Dunham, Barack Obama’s mother.
6 Daniel Dae Kim (A-lister)
Perhaps one of the busiest Divergent personalities out of the entire franchise is Daniel Dae Kim. He’s been in a vast number of projects that span the entire entertainment industry; that’s movies, television and video games. Kim is most known for his television roles, where he’s been a leading protagonist in shows like Hawaii Five-0 and Lost. In the video game landscape he is most known for voicing the character of Johnny Gat in the Saints Row series.
In the film industry, Kim has appeared in a number of action movies, including 2003’s Hulk and 2004’s Spider-Man 2, but his big movie break came in 2015 when he was cast as Jack Kang in Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent series.
He reprised his role in 2016’s Allegiant and from there Kim’s career started to flourish.
His own production company, 3AD, nabbed a deal with ABC to produce The Good Doctor, which is currently a hit on the network. That show’s main actor, Freddie Highmore, even received a Golden Globe nomination.
Kim’s success isn’t only behind the scenes as an executive producer, he’s also set to star in the 2019 reboot of Hellboy as Ben Daimio, a character with the ability to transform into a jaguar.
5 Maggie Q (Flopped)
Maggie Q is most known for playing the titular character in The CW’s Nikita, but she’s had even bigger roles on the silver screen. She starred opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 3 and later appeared in Live Free or Die Hard alongside Bruce Willis. Those two movies gave Q’s career a strong boost, but after Die Hard 4, Q was unfortunately unable to nab big roles in similar movies. Instead, she switched gears to the small screen and landed the main role in the aforementioned Nikita.
Her Hollywood film career once again reached a high when she was cast as Tori Wu in the Divergent film series.
As Tori Wu, Q appeared in all three of the Divergent films, but she had a more prominent role in the second installment, Insurgent.
After the series ended with Allegiant, Q again wasn’t able to nab any big movie roles akin to Divergent or Mission: Impossible.
She instead became a series regular on ABC’s Designated Survivor, but that show was soon canceled after only two seasons, in May of this year. The show is currently in talks to continue on another network or on Netflix, but it’s still unclear whether Designated Survivor will indeed survive.
4 Rosa Salazar (A-lister)
Canadian actress Rosa Salazar was first known for her brief appearance in American Horror Story, where she played Nurse Maria in four episodes. Afterward, Salazar took her talents to the big screen and after landing several small roles in a number of films, she finally got her big break when she played Lynn in the second Divergent film, Insurgent.
Unfortunately, Lynn perished by the end of Insurgent, leaving Salazar without a chance to return for the third film, Allegiant. Nevertheless, perhaps moving on from Divergent was the best thing that happened to Salazar’s career.
Salazar’s next big role came in 2015’s Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. In that movie, Salazar played the character of Brenda and had a more stronger tie to the film’s plot than her character in Divergent. She quickly became a fan-favorite and fans were excited when she returned for the third installment this year. While Maze Runner: The Death Cure wasn’t as successful as its predecessors, it still managed to open doors for many of its actors, especially Salazar.
There’s no doubt that Salazar has become an A-lister. She will be starring in her own action-adventure film Alita: Battle Angel later this year, which is directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by the legendary filmmaker James Cameron. After Zoe Saldana brought life to Avatar with her impeccable performance, she became a Hollywood sensation. The same is set to happen to Salazar in her James Cameron-produced movie.
3 Christian Madsen (Flopped)
The son of actor Michael Madsen, Christian Madsen’s story of how he landed the role of Albert in Divergent is remarkable, so it’s unfortunate that, after his character took his own life in the first film, Madsen hasn’t been able to land any similar roles in big movies.
While speaking to The Huffington Post, Madsen revealed that he had been auditioning for roles for several years without having any success. He said that “I was just sort of in a place where I was like, ‘I don’t know what acting is anymore to me.” He was about to give up on acting when he decided to audition for Divergent.
Madsen was even about to be evicted from his Los Angeles home before finally sealing the deal to play Albert in the Lionsgate film.
Unfortunately, though, as previously mentioned, Albert in the first Divergent film took his own life, leaving no room for Madsen to return in a future installment to reprise the role. Luckily, though, Madsen was quickly cast as the main lead in an indie film called Prism, which also starred Deadpool alumnus Brianna Hildebrand. Prism was not a massive success and Madsen since then hasn’t been able to nab any roles akin to Albert in the first Divergent film.
2 Suki Waterhouse (A-lister)
Before making a name for herself as an actress, Suki Waterhouse was known for her modeling career. She’s modeled for brands like Tommy Hilfiger and H&M and has appeared on the cover of various top-tier magazines like Vogue and Elle. So, it was only a matter of time until Waterhouse made the switch to the movies.
Her first big role was when she was cast as Marlene in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Unfortunately for Waterhouse, though, her character perished in that same movie. Nevertheless, just because her character kicked the bucket didn’t mean her career was bound to take the same path. Indeed, after Insurgent, Waterhouse’s movie career really took off.
Waterhouse appeared in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but that movie bombed at the box office. Even though that was a minor setback, Waterhouse came back strong by landing the lead role in Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2016’s The Bad Batch. She only made one film in 2017, but this year she will appear in a whopping seven movies. Waterhouse definitely knows how to keep herself busy.
Among those seven 2018 films are the Woody Allen film A Rainy Day in New York and Billionaire Boys Club, where she’ll appear alongside her Divergent co-actor Ansel Elgort. Next year, she’s set to star alongside Ryan Reynolds in Detective Pikachu.
1 Amy Newbold (Flopped)
Most fans of the Divergent film series remember Amy Newbold’s Molly as being the Candor initiate who kicked Tris’ butt in the first film. The movie showed a different interpretation of Molly from the books, but it was a portrayal that was perfectly executed by Newbold. Molly, though, only appeared in 2014’s Divergent, never again to make a return in any of the future installments. Unfortunately, that was it for Newbold. Her next and last on-screen role was that same year in the TV series Crisis, where she played a nurse.
Since then, Newbold has taken her talents behind the scenes, working as a casting associate and assistant in a number of movies and TV shows.
Interestingly, before Newbold pursued an acting career, she was already in the casting business. She was a casting assistant on the TV series Boss and The Chicago Code, and then again in the film Contagion and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
In 2015, she served as a casting associate for FOX’s hit television series Empire. It’s evident that Newbold is extremely efficient as a part of the casting crew, given how well cast are many of the aforementioned films and TV shows. Nevertheless, hopefully we’ll see her make a return to the big screen in the near future.
Who’s your favorite Divergent actor? Let us know in the comments.