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It’s no secret that many fans of the Divergent movies shipped Shailene Woodley and Theo James. Having played their characters, Tris Prior and Tobias “Four” Eaton with such conviction, some fans felt that they would make a cute real-life couple as well. And while the pair got along well and had a natural rapport, their relationship seemed to stay firmly in the friend zone. However, there certainly was an undeniable chemistry between the actors.

Divergent stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James sport all black to the 'Allegiant' premiere
Shailene Woodley and Theo James | Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

How Shailene Woodley got cast in the ‘Divergent’ movies

But just how did James and Woodley manage to be cast in Divergent? As the film was slated to be the next big young adult film franchise, the casting process was extremely competitive. However, it’s fair to say that James’ audition process was a bit more arduous that Woodley’s. As Woodley was more of a well-known actor at the time, her audition process was fairly straightforward. The O.C. alum met up with producers and detailed her interests, which included learning basic survival skills, and was offered the role shortly after that conversation.

Theo James really stood out in his audition

James, on the other hand, went through a more traditional audition process. He had to prepare scenes and present his take on Four. As Woodley had already been cast, she had the opportunity to witness James’ audition. According to the Big Little Lies alum, James immediately stood out amidst his competition. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she recalled her co-star’s audition.

“Isn’t he so good in it?” Woodley said of James. “We auditioned a lot of guys, and a lot of these actors were playing male, masculine leaders. Even if they were good, they were still acting it. Theo walked in and just demanded it with his presence. Theo is smart as a whip—he majored in philosophy and traveled the world before he even became an actor—so he’s had a full life before the industry, and he didn’t feel like he had to prove his masculinity.”

Woodley gets candid about her chemistry with James

After James was officially cast as Four and he and Woodley started working together, the cast and crew of Divergent couldn’t help but make note of the natural chemistry that the actors shared. Funnily enough, Woodley didn’t see it herself until long after they’d stopped filming. “With Theo, I think everyone knew,” Woodley stated. “When we were filming, everyone said, ‘You and Theo have such crazy chemistry,’ but I didn’t realize it until I saw the movie.”


Shailene Woodley Isn’t Afraid to Put Fans in Their Place

But where does this chemistry come from? According to Woodley it was born from the mutual respect that the pair have each other as artists. While some people are focused on the glitz and glam that can accompany being an actor, Woodley and James were more invested in the craft of acting and creating a story together that they could be proud of.

“Theo is in it for the right reasons,” Woodley declared. “He’s not in it for the glamour, the toys, or the excess, and neither am I, so we respect each other on that level. And we’re good teammates and have each other’s backs, and I think a lot of our chemistry stems from that.”