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Why The Sex Scene In "Insurgent" Matters

In the Divergent sequel, Tris has sex on her own terms and for the actor who plays her, Shailene Woodley, that was very important. Warning: SPOILERS!

Posted on March 20, 2015, at 4:09 p.m. ET


In the Divergent sequel, Insurgent, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) loses her virginity to her boyfriend Four (Theo James). It's at least the sixth time 23-year-old Woodley has filmed a scene of that nature, but what's significant about this one is that Tris bucks the virgin hero trend that other film series adapted from hugely popular YA novels have established.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Bella Swan in Twilight both maintain a degree of power through declining sex. But Tris, on the other hand, not only has sex, she has sex on her own terms.

"It was a really nice choice that Tris was the one who initiates, and not Four, just because in the previous film, Tris had said, 'I don't want to go too fast,'" Woodley told BuzzFeed News in an interview at the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles.


In the scene, Four tells Tris he loves her, and then she kisses him, climbs into his lap, and takes off her own vest; there's no trepidation, and it never seems like Four's idea.

The actor nodded at the mention of the practical — and not particularly "sexy" — vest that Tris unzips during the scene. The close-up of that chunky zipper makes it a little awkward, much like actual sex. "We just wanted it to be more utilitarian than foreign," Woodley said. "So often, you see sex scenes in movies, you're like, oh my god, this is not how it happens, or, how in the world do you look so perfect?'"

"There wasn't a lot of glitz and glamor," she added of the film overall. "We wanted the focus to be on the human emotion."

Tris' self-determination with Four fits in with a greater theme of Insurgent — namely that the heroine must learn to prioritize her own emotional needs. "You have all these people trying to influence her," Woodley said, referring to the leaders in her world, played by Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, and Naomi Watts.

In the end, what saves Tris is letting go of her guilt. "She decides to honor herself," Woodley said plainly, and that's something the actor can get behind. "I think the only way that peace is possible is if people start loving themselves."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.