Bookish was luckily enough to interview Divergent screenwriter Evan Daugherty recently, at which time he discussed the challenges of adapting the book for the screen and why the project originally caught his eye!
Bookish: So you obviously read some popular stuff being shopped around–why did you choose to adapt ”Divergent?”
ED: It’s a mutual thing of feeling out whether your take on a piece of material meshes with what the studio wants to do. The things that drew me to ”Divergent” were the specifics of Tris’ character. She starts off in that incredibly sheltered, selfless, peaceful world and then basically she decides to join the equivalent of the Navy Seals. That’s a big character arc, it’s fun to track that. And “Divergent” differentiates itself by being in the vein of some movies that I really like, sort of the military training movie–like “Top Gun” or a guilty pleasure of mine which is “GI Jane.”
Bookish: What has been the biggest adaptation challenge for you?
ED: Tracking Tris from where she starts to where she ends. It’s tricky because the book is a very packed read with a lot of big ideas. So, distilling that into a cool, faithful two-hour movie is challenging. Not only do you have to establish five factions, but you have to acknowledge that there’s a sixth entity, which is the divergent, and you also have the factionless. So there’s a world that really has to be built out for the big screen…the movie is going to do it a little more efficiently.
Bookish: And of course, there needs to be emphasis on the all-important romance between Tris and Four.
ED: I respond to the fact that it is an action-heavy YA book, and I know–having talked to Veronica about it–she’s very proud of that fact. I get hung up on the toughness of the movie but of equal importance is the love story between Tris and Four. It’s inherently and inextricably linked to Tris’ character journey. There will be plenty of sexual tension and chemistry, but it’s important that all of that stuff doesn’t just feel like it’s thrown in, but that it all helps Tris grow as a character.