'Divergent' stars talk Rahm Emanuel, Blackhawks, riding 'L'

Shailene Woodley

Actress Shailene Woodley (right) poses with fan Ali Walder (left) of Milwaukee, Wis. at the Chicago premiere of "Divergent" at Showplace Icon Theater March 4, 2014. (Andrew A. Nelles/For The Chicago Tribune)

Shailene Woodley is known for her “alternative” lifestyle, which she said is based on indigenous cultures. The aspiring herbalist — who plays the rebellious protagonist, Tris, in the post-apocalyptic film “Divergent,” which hits theaters March 21 — has said during interviews that she makes her own medicine and cheese and collects spring water from the mountains once a month.

How difficult was it for Woodley to maintain this lifestyle while filming “Divergent” in Chicago last year for three months?

“It was a little bit tricky, actually,” Woodley said at the Chicago premiere of “Divergent” at Showplace Icon Tuesday. “There was this one market (in Chicago) that was amazing, which is where I did all my shopping. It’s a co-op. I found it online.”

That’s not to say Woodley didn’t make time for the city’s fine-dining restaurants. Upon arriving in Chicago in April she attended a cast dinner at Girl and the Goat with co-stars including Theo James, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller; she also visited The Publican and Avec. And as far as sight-seeing goes, she did some walking around Millennium Park. Woodley also visited Navy Pier, but that was to film a scene with Tris’ love interest, Four (played by James) in which they climb up the Ferris wheel.

“That was pretty spectacular,” said Woodley. “It was fun — it wasn’t scary. There was a full moon. it was so lovely and beautiful.”

James made time for Blackhawks games while in Chicago, which were all the more exciting due to the team’s Stanley Cup run. “I got really into it,” James said on the “Divergent” red carpet. “I loved it. It made me wish I played hockey as a kid. … I do (consider myself a ‘Hawks fan), but I feel like a bit of a fraud because I’m English.” During one game in June, James and his co-stars met and took a photo with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who also attended the red carpet event). “I’m a fan of his,” James said. “I think he’s very cool.”

Ansel Elgort plays Tris’s brother, Caleb, in the film and will appear with Woodley again in “The Fault in Our Stars.” Elgort said he got to know a different aspect of Chicago than some of his co-stars: The “L.”

“I took the train a lot,” Elgort said. “I’m from New York, so I like taking the subway. It makes me feel like I’m at home.”

Amy Newbold was the lone Chicago resident among the main cast. The Roosevelt University alum plays Molly, who is a member of the same Dauntless faction as Tris and Four (one of five factions in the “Divergent” storyline). If you think Newbold’s friends were constantly contacting her to see where the cast was filming and hanging out, you would be mistaken.

“My friends didn’t care at all,” Newbold said. “I have no friends who are at all interested in the movie, which is awesome. They’re excited — I don’t want to give the wrong impression — but none of them are ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to stalk this.’”

“Divergent” filmed at Cinespace Film Studios as well as Navy Pier, Pioneer Court, the old Chicago Defender building and the field at 600 S. Wells Street in the South Loop. Because “Divergent” takes place in a dystopian society, Chicago appears decrepit and, to some extent, abandoned, in the movie. That Ferris wheel Tris and Four climbed? It’s not functional. And our beloved Lake Michigan looks more like swampland.

Still, author and Northwestern University alum Veronica Roth, who wrote the young-adult books the movie is based off of, is optimistic the film will entice “Divergent” fans into visiting her hometown.

“I hope so,” Roth said on the red carpet. “They should. It’s beautiful. It does (look worn out), but it still looks like Chicago — sort of like wasteland Chicago. In a dystopia, you could be painting a city as a bad place to be, but I think Chicago comes off pretty well.”

lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis

For more celebrity news and sightings in Chicago, go to chicagotribune.com/luis

Featured Stories

CTnow is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on ctnow.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.