Outlook roundtable interview with Miles Teller and Jai Courtney, stars of “Divergent” Dallas, Texas
March 5, 2014
Ronald P. Salfen, Presbyterian Outlook
Presbyterian Outlook: I was interested in the physical training aspect of this film. What did you have to do to prepare, and how difficult was it to go through those fight sequences?
Jai Courtney: I got off light. I pretty much cheated the system and didn’t have any training to do, mainly because I didn’t have any fighting (scenes).
Miles Teller: Yeah, I signed on for the movie and a week later I was in Chicago in what they called a “boot camp.” Our two stunt coordinators were, like, complete badasses. They were like Special Forces, trained killers. I mean, this guy Garrett has an eye patch, and he was very scary. (Everyone laughs.) So we got out there about two weeks, lot of push-ups, lot of sit-ups, lot of cardio, and then we were doing knife-throwing, and some gun tactical work. You were expected to go to the gym the whole time we were filming.
Presbyterian Outlook: Did you have any kind of compunction or reluctance, getting in the ring with a girl?
Miles Teller: Yeah, at first, it was like “How is this going to look?” (Everyone laughs.) Because that should never happen in real life, but in this (the movie’s) world, if you don’t survive, if you don’t move up the ladder in the Dauntless (Faction) and you’re cut, then you’re Faction-less. Then you’re without a home and you can’t see your parents and it’s pretty dismal. And Shailene (Woodley) is a trooper, we had a good relationship going into the movie, so it was a lot of fun.
Presbyterian Outlook: Talk a little about the message at the core of this movie.
Jai Courtney: Well, I think it’s about self-discovery, and embracing what it is that makes you an individual, and what’s different about you, and getting in touch with those qualities, and learning how to use that to your advantage. And not being afraid of it, I guess.
Miles Teller: You look in movies and there’s not that many young, female leaders or heroes, and I think that Shailene – both as a person and as Tris – that she’s really a nice role model.
Jai Courtney: Hmm. I would agree.
Miles Teller: Plus this is something my grandma could go watch.
Presbyterian Outlook: I’m interested in what you were saying to us earlier, that’s there’s a “persona” that’s you, and then there’s a “persona” that meets the public….
Miles Teller: No, not really a separate “persona”–there are some things I’m required to do as an actor, like doing this press tour. And then there are things like… it’s Miles walking into a gas station. So there are things in my life that are work-related, and things that are personal, but it’s the same persona. When I leave here, I’m not a different person.
Presbyterian Outlook: But it’s good that you can separate the two. It’s because of this character that the fans are screaming, not necessarily because of Miles.
Jai Courtney: Well, I think, for these girls, they love Miles.(Everyone laughs.)
Miles Teller: And I try to give them what they want – at a safe distance, with security!
(Everyone laughs.)You gotta stay grounded. You know, every movie I’ve done, I’ve wanted to be part of and I’m really proud of. So for me, that’s the big thing. When I walk into a room with my peers, I don’t want to hold my head down. I don’t want to be ashamed of the stuff I did. Because at the end of the day, this is what you’re picking for a career. I mean you have to make a living, but I really respect actors, and that’s the company I want to be in – the good ones.
Presbyterian Outlook: Thanks for your time.
Ronald P. Salfen is the minister at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.