‘Insurgent’ star discusses Atlanta filming experience

“Insurgent,” the “Divergent” sequel in theaters now, filmed in numerous metro Atlanta locations, from the bucolic beauty of Serenbe to downtown Atlanta high-rises, with some action taking place in interior studio space.

We talked to Mekhi Phifer, who reprises his role as military leader Max in the movie.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said of the Atlanta filming experience. “Everybody was just real cool and cordial. It was a fun, youthful set.”

It was his first time filming in Atlanta and he was impressed.

“Everybody seemed great. Very enthusiastic, in tune with what’s going on,” he said. “I couldn’t tell any difference between shooting here and shooting in LA. Everyone was very professional.”

The movie stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller along with Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Octavia Spencer, Zoë Kravitz and Ashley Judd.

The plot, in case you're catching up, revolves around "Divergents," or people who don't fall into one of the precise categories in an oppressive, dystopian future. Tris and Four (Woodley and James) are on the run from iron-fisted Jeanine (Winslet), who is bent on rounding up the Divergents.

Phifer, also known for work on projects including “House of Lies,” “ER,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” said the series’ multi-ethnic, multi-generational cast of characters is key to its phenomenal popularity.

“It’s a very multi-demographic cast,” he said. “You’re dealing with a full gamut of society. And then obviously there’s the action, and the love story.”

What is it, we wondered, about these futuristic, dystopian plots that so captivates people? (The second, third and fourth movies in the “Hunger Games” series also filmed in Atlanta, coincidentally.)

Phifer thinks viewers and readers are drawn to the idea that when society’s comforts are stripped away, perseverance and goodness can somehow prevail.

“People can relate to the possibility,” he said.

And how does he relate to his character?

“He’s more of a taskmaster,” he said. “Sometimes things are best left unsaid. Sometimes it’s better to listen than talk. I would think that in a sticky situation, the less said the better. That’s a character trait I would relate to.”

And good advice for any time or place, it seems.

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