The third film of the Divergent franchise, The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1, goes beyond the walls of the city to explore the world surrounding what remains of Chicago. Allegiant expands the story and introduces new characters to the franchise including Matthew (Bill Skarsgard), the right-hand man to one of the leaders of the organization overseeing Chicago. Also joining the series with this third film is Nita (Nadia Hilker), a smart, tough as nails soldier who teaches Four (Theo James) how to survive in the world outside Chicago’s walls.
Divergent newcomers Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove) and Nadia Hilker were teamed up on the promotional tour for The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 and Showbiz Junkies had the opportunity to find out how they approached their roles in this penultimate film of the series. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 opens in theaters on March 18, 2016.
Bill Skarsgard and Nadia Hilker Exclusive Interview:
The audience doesn’t really get to know much about the backstory of Matthew or Nita. Did you develop a backstory to help you get into your characters?
Nadia Hilker: “I definitely got all the information I needed for her, which helped. Even though we’re not sharing that with the audience, but it’s just good for us to know because I think, definitely, it’s affecting the acting. I just tried to find whatever I could find in the books and information on the internet to build a backstory for myself and just to know where she’s coming from.”
Bill Skarsgard: “Yeah, it’s the same with me. Every character that you do, you use whatever tools you have or whatever information that’s available to help you create the backstory of your character. In this case, it’s obvious that the book is there. Even though what we’re doing might differ from the novel, and the character might differ as well, it’s just the more information that you can get, the better to help create the character.”
What was it that each of you found that you really latched on to that led you into the character?
Nadia Hilker: “Nita got separated from her family. She doesn’t even know whether they’re alive or not. I just love when something like that, like such tragedy happens in life to people and instead of…”
Bill Skarsgard: “You love that?”
Nadia Hilker: “No, no, no! I love when that happens but people are brave enough and just deal with it. That makes them stronger instead of just disappearing in a little corner and being upset. I think Nita’s a very strong, smart young woman, who believes in the good. She’s a fighter. She’s a bad-ass. She’s strong.”
Nita really is a bad-ass. How easy was it for you to channel that? Did you just love tackling those action scenes?
Nadia Hilker: “I mean, I’m a bad-ass. [Laughing] Well, I’m not a bad-ass but I’m definitely a very strong young woman. I know who I am, what I want, what I don’t want, what I need, and I know how to get it if I need it. Even if I don’t know, I just keep on fighting. I’m really honored that Lionsgate and Robert [Schwentke] and the producers saw all of her qualities within me. But also, gun training and weapons and boots and the outfit pretty much helps getting into character.”
Your scenes are so full of CG and special effects. How difficult to work around that when don’t really know what it will look like, like the little discs that are flying and that kind of thing. How difficult is that to picture?
Nadia Hilker: “The thing is that’s basically our job. Also, Bill’s said it before and I thought he said it in such a beautiful way. We’re pretending all the time. Not pretending, but making ourselves believe things that are not true. Falling in love with someone – sometimes you meet that person the same day and you’re definitely obviously not in love with that person, but you make yourself believe that you are. It’s basically the same thing with dinosaurs or drones or anything else. We just have to use our own imagination and fantasy and make ourselves believe things.”
What’s it like to actually step onto the set? What was it like?
Bill Skarsgard: “It’s pretty massive. By far, the biggest movie either one of us have ever worked on. It’s a massive film set. We didn’t start shooting until a few weeks or almost a month into production but we went down to Atlanta while they were shooting to do fittings. We walked onto the set and met Robert, the director, and met some of the cast. It was kind of overwhelming just seeing the sheer size of it all. Most of the cast have done this for two years now, maybe four. They know each other really well, and it’s kind of like being the new kid at school trying to fit in. But at the end of the day, it’s just another day at work. It’s just bigger, but it’s the same things we do. We go in and we pretend and we play and we have fun, and you start to get to know the crew. Pretty soon, you’re back to just doing what you love, which is acting.”
Nadia Hilker: “It’s definitely going to be so much easier and more fun to go back to Atlanta this summer to shoot the last one.”
Bill Skarsgard: “Yeah. It’s the swansong. It’s the last installment of the franchise. Now we’re kind of…”
Nadia Hilker: “We got introduced.”
Bill Skarsgard: “We got introduced and we’re a part of the whole thing, the whole family.”
You aren’t the newbies anymore.
Bill Skarsgard: “We’re not the newbies! What are we, juniors? No, this is freshman, or, what is it? Sophomore?”
You’re the sophomores. What is it that both of you find so compelling about the overall story of the Divergent series?
Nadia Hilker: “I pretty much love the message of the movie. Fight for whatever you think is right and be brave and have your own…”
Bill Skarsgard: “That’s a Bob Marley song.”
Nadia Hilker: “Right. The message is great. Then obviously also with the ‘pure’ and the ‘not pure’, you know it’s the same stuff we have in our world going on with religion and skin color, unfortunately. That’s also, unfortunately, been around forever. Ever since the existence of humanity, unfortunately. It’s an amazing message combined with amazing special effects and a lot of action and young, talented actors, and also older, very talented actors. It’s a cool, cool movie. A cool franchise.”
Were you ever able to speak with Veronica Roth?
Nadia Hilker: “Yeah. I mean, didn’t we?”
Bill Skarsgard: “Yeah.”
Nadia Hilker: “I met her and I was actually shocked. When I heard her name I thought of that older woman with a red bob and weird earrings. Then she was standing in front of my trailer and she was this beautiful, young, 25 year-old woman. I’m like, ‘What? You wrote those books?'”
Bill Skarsgard: “She was 25?”
Nadia Hilker: “25, 26? She’s really young. [Gets confirmation] She’s 25, yeah.”
Bill Skarsgard: “Really? Wow, that’s really impressive.”
Nadia Hilker: “Isn’t it impressive?”
That’s very impressive. Did she give you any hints or clues or anything that you guys could really use to put into the characters that maybe weren’t in the books themselves?
Bill Skarsgard: “She comes off as older, more mature as well, because I’m 25. [Laughing] 27…all right. We shared a ride back from the set to the hotel that we were staying in. I chatted with her a little bit. She has her story and the books are there and we can use that as tools, but at the end of the day, the characters that you see on the screen are somewhat different. You can ask her things for the backstory of your character you’re creating just the same way you can use the book, but the film is something different than the book. We have the book, and that’s there. The film is trying to be something else. It’s a different medium. That’s the same way with me creating a character. I’m not supposed to create the character that’s already been created for the book. I’m just supposed to create this character that’s part of the film.”