The Black and Blue Carpet was rolled out tonight at Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre as Mekhi Phifer and Jai Courtney, Stars of Veronica Roth AdaptationThe Divergent Series: Insurgent, flew-in for the grand occasion. Filled with Selfie-aspiring Fans and eager Television and Digital Media, the Carpet was adorned in blue lit-panels depicting the five Factions known so well by Fans of the Franchise. After strong Reviews and grossing over $150 million in North America, expectations are high of this second Installment.
Many know Phifer for his work on long-running, celebrated TV Series ER and a string of popular Films he made in his early 20s, including O, 8 Mile and Honey. Australian-born Courtney‘s star is emerging quickly with high-profile Roles in Unbroken, A Good Day to Die Hard and recent news of his casting in DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, to film in Toronto next month with a Cast of Heavyweights.
INSURGENT picks-up where Divergent left-off in a futuristic dystopian Chicago. We witness Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), (Miles Teller) and (Ansel Elgort) on-the-run from ruthless Erudite Faction Leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who is determined to capture and test the limits of potentially destructive Divergents (those not belonging to any one particular personality type) at all costs – sparing no lives, placing them through a grueling and deadly set of simulations. Jeanine is in possession of a box containing secrets which Tris‘ Parents lost their lives in the name of protecting. Tris finds herself having to face Jeanine, risking her life for the protection of her People once she is captured. What is the secret which Jeanine is so set on keeping it hidden from Tris and the Population? And how will Tris survive Jeanine‘s fatal Regime?
At the heart of The Divergent Series are some strong Female Characters. Legions of young Women look-up to Tris and we ask Phifer who plays Dauntless Leader Max, about his own Female Role Models. “My Mom first of all”, he says without hesitation, “She was a single Parent who raised me in Harlem. She was a School Teacher who loved the Community – a Choreographer and Dancer. My Mom was definitely an inspiration.”.
Courtney, who just turned 29 this week, thinks likewise, crediting “My mother of course, I think.”. He adds, “My Sister too. There a lot of strong Women in my life, including some friends of mine.”.
Phifer recounts his transition from a young impoverished Actor, overcoming the odds to make it in Hollywood with a Career spanning 20 years. We ask what’s changed from then till now for him. He says, “I’m 40-years-old, a Dad of two and married. I mean, it’s inevitable.”. “That’s the beauty of acting – there’s no age limit. As long as you can remember lines and read, that’s all you need.”.
Our Justin Waldman asks Courtney about his physically-intensive role as Dauntless Leader Eric, who like Phifer‘s Max, reports to Winslet‘s Jeanine. His Character is menacing, in hot pursuit of Tris and Four, playing a Key Role in her eventual surrender to Jeanine. “I was working on Terminator Genisys at the same time as Insurgent”, he reveals. “It was a lot of Cardio and Circuit Work – boring stuff. It’s what I have to do to prepare for work. It’s like reading or researching for a role, but you have to become a bit of an Athlete.”. “It gets old.”.
And for those curious, Courtney remains tight-lipped about his return soon to the City for the star-studded Suicide Squad with the likes of Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne and Joel Kinnaman. “What am I gonna tell you? We haven’t started yet, but we’re getting ready”, he says before hinting “I’m gonna get to use my Australian accent. I can tell you that much.”.
Watch our Video Chats with Phifer and Courtney:
eOne Films release THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT on Friday, March 20, 2015.