The sound that Peter (Miles Teller) makes when Tris (Shailene Woodley) punches him in the throat is genuine. Woodley didn't want to hurt Teller, so she was being timid. As filming continued, Teller and Woodley got more aggressive and during one take, Woodley actually hit him in the throat, which Teller wasn't expecting. This is the take that is in the movie.
Kate Winslet was five months pregnant during filming. Despite only being on set for four weeks, it got to a point where shooting above her waist was required as well as her carrying folders, files and iPads to cover the bump in master shots.
Miles Teller originally auditioned for the role of Four, but was told that he wasn't going to be getting the role. Months later, the producers watched The Spectacular Now (2013), and were so impressed that they called Teller and offered him the role of Eric, who is supposed to be at odds and intimidating towards the character Four. Teller turned it down because he felt that he wouldn't be able to pull off being intimidating towards Theo James. He was then offered the role of Peter, which he accepted after his friend and former co-star Shailene Woodley sent him a text asking him to accept the role so they could work together again.
Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller had trouble filming their fight scene due to their close friendship. Woodley, in particular had difficulties and at one point referred to Teller as "Sutter" which is his character's name in The Spectacular Now (2013) in which the two played a couple. Teller had to take Woodley aside and have a discussion in order to get her to be aggressive towards him.
As inspiration for Four's full-back tattoo, production designer Andy Nicholson looked to 1920s abstract Russian constructivist art. The stark lines may look conventional on paper, but on Theo James' body they clutch and curve; they're meant to be touched. "It was about following the lines that your hand might follow if you're feeling someone's back," explains Nicholson. To apply the temporary tattoos, makeup head Brad Wilder cut the transfer paper into about 40 pieces, creating a "giant jigsaw puzzle." It then took three people more than three hours to assemble the pattern on James' back. To pass the time, the actor listened to jazz music.
Shailene Woodley received several days of firearms training by Discreet Protection Security Group (DPS group) in order to prepare for her role in Divergent. The firearms instructors from DPS group are real life LAPD Officers Charles Wunder and Jamie McBride. They are the same Officers that the lead characters in the movie 'End of Watch (2012)' were loosely based on. They were partners in Newton Division in the mid to late 90's.
Although the majority of the weapons used in the movie are mock ups using CGI muzzle flashes, the futuristic looking revolver seen during Four's/Tris' hallucination is a real firearm. It is a Chiappa 'Rhino' which is available in several calibers, finishes and barrel lengths.
The initiate named Edward is present throughout stage 1 of the training (helps pull Christina up from the chasm's edge, first picked by Eric for Capture The Flag, spoken line "You're the only one who's ever stood up to him", ranked #1 and celebrates when stage 1 rankings are announced etc.) However, he is nowhere to be seen after the first stage of training. In the book, but not shown in the movie, Edward was eliminated by the weaker Peter by stabbing him in the eye with a table knife while sleeping. Al also feels threatened by Tris and he tries to eliminate her by throwing her into the Chasm, which is in the movie.
In the beginning when the factions were introduced, each sign for each faction appears: the Erudite eye looking up from the microscope, the Amity tree in the middle of the field, the Candor scales during a court hearing, the Dauntless flames on the side of the building, and Abnegation joined hands while helping the factionless.
Pop star Ellie Goulding provided the "inner voice" of Tris in the film's soundtrack. You can hear her voice, as Theo James said once in an interview, "peppered" in the background of key scenes, mixed with the film's score.
The film was shot on location in Chicago, the setting in the book, and Burger wanted to use as much of the city as possible. He decided to shoot the film like street photography but where the streets are 150 years in the future.
In the book, Christina is the first to take possession of the flag saying to Tris "You're already the hero of the day." In the movie, Tris grabs the flag first but Christina quickly joins her in holding it, and then Christina carries the flag as they walk back.
The producers were aware of the story's surface-level similarities to The Hunger Games, but felt that the urban world of Divergent would contrast with the rural feel of Hunger Games and help differentiate the two.
The fence around Chicago is modeled after the Duga-3 antenna array. A Soviet era over-the-horizon radar transmitter located in Ukraine, within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The transmissions from the antenna caused interference with commercial and amateur radio. NATO codenamed Steel Yard, also known as the Russian Woodpecker due to the 10hz repetitive signal.
One of the main things that attracted Woodley to the project was the relationship between Tris and Four: "It's very different than the Bella/Edward relationship; they're completely on the opposite sides of the spectrum."
This is the first film where Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star together. The first could have been Carrie (2013) if Woodley hadn't turned down the part of Carrie White. Elgort played the Tommy Ross, the potential love interest, in the film. A year later, they were both cast in The Fault in Our Stars (2014).
The producers were looking for a director who could juggle a difficult adaptation, loved character, and wouldn't be overwhelmed by bringing an epic scale to the film visually. After seeing presentations from many different filmmakers, they realized Neil Burger was the best choice.
Kate Winslet came onto production a little later than most of the other cast members. As a result, she deliberately didn't act too friendly towards them - hoping it would help with the tension whenever Jeannine was on screen. After a few days, she started being nicer.
As noted elsewhere, Miles Teller was initially reluctant to sign onto the film, and was convinced by Shailene Woodley. Apparently, Woodley convinced him to agree by saying he would get to punch her in the face on-screen.
The film rights were bought after the success of the Twilight films, but it wasn't put into production until after The Hunger Games had been a success. In order to distinguish Divergent from The Hunger Games, director Neil Burger emphasized the urban setting (in contrast to the rural setting of the arena in The Hunger Games) - and used lots of sharp, neon colors.
Kate Winslet has said she accepted the role of Jeannine because she wanted to do something drastically different from her usual parts, and also because she wanted to do a film that her children could watch. According to her, they became quite popular at school when word got out that their mother was Jeannine.
Ansel Elgort says to Shailene Woodley 'what if she had been blind or an amputee' when talking about helping a woman with her parcels. In Fault in Our Stars, Elgort is an amputee and he and Woodley have a blind friend.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
A scene from the book in which Edward is stabbed with a butter knife in the eye by Peter, was filmed but cut due to it being determined too violent for the film which would've received an R-rating with the scene included.
An acrostic of the first letters of the faction names, Factionless/Abnegation/Candor/Amity/Dauntless/Erudite, spells FACADE. Insisting that people fall into just 6 rigid categories certainly is a facade that misled everyone.
In the movie, Tris fights and beats the initiate Molly who guards the flag. This fight is not in the book, however there is a fight between the two in the training center where Tris decisively beats the stronger Molly thereby improving her rank.
In the book, a character named Uriah makes many appearances as a friend and ally to Tris. He is a Dauntless born initiate who has an older brother named Zeke who was an initiate in Four's year but neither of them makes an appearance in the movie. However, in the scene after the 'Capture the Flag' sequence a Dauntless boy asks Tris to join them for a tradition (the zip line from the Hancock Building). That character, although named Ezra(a movie specific character), takes the place of Uriah who invited Tris to join in the book. Oddly enough, Ezra matches the description given in the book of Uriah, who will make his first appearance in the second movie of the Dauntless Series: Insurgent, portrayed by Keiynan Lonsdale.
When Tris is about to be thrown into the chasm, Tris only learns that Al tried to kill her. In the book, Tris learns that it was also Peter and another initiate named Drew. But if you look closely at one of the actors, you will see Miles Teller (Peter) in the scene.