The Hunger Games dodged the bullet, but Divergent looks like it could get hit in a way that really might hurt. Via DivergentSeries.net, Oh No They Didn’t! is reporting that Alex Pettyfer is confirmed for the role of Four in the young adult book-to-film adaptation.
Shailene Woodley will lead as 16-year-old Beatrice Prior, a girl living in a time when the population is divided into factions based on lifestyle and values. Beatrice is born into Abnegation, the group that shuns self-indulgence and vows to act selflessly, but come the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice will finally be able to decide for herself if that’s the path she wants to take or if she’ll leave her family and everything she’s ever known behind for a different faction. Whether she goes with Abnegation or not, Beatrice still must endure a rigorous initiation process before being accepted as a full-fledged member -- and that’s where Four comes in. Four is Beatrice’s initiation instructor and, not surprisingly, her love interest.
I’ve been championing Divergent for quite a while as the next big, quality YA book-to-film adaptation and after director Neil Burger snagged Woodley to lead, it seemed close to a sure thing. Then news broke that Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet was circling a role, further suggesting that Divergent could have more to offer than most. But now, if this latest update is true, one casting misstep could wind up decimating the movie’s potential.
Lookswise, of course Pettyfer would make for a wonderful YA adaptation lead – but so would any male model with the emotional range of a spoon. Even after four relatively high-profile productions, Pettyfer has yet to prove he’s got any acting chops whatsoever. Even if we give him a pass on I Am Number Four, Beastly and In Time because those movies as a whole aren’t very good, the fact that it’s still quite easy to isolate Pettyfer as the weak link in the wildly proficient Magic Mike goes to show that he doesn’t have much to offer beyond a pretty face. Yes, it’s a harsh assessment, but Divergent has a good shot at developing into a highly successful franchise, and any actor out there would be very lucky to earn this role. Pettyfer just doesn’t deserve it.
Can you imagine how different The Hunger Games would be had Pettyfer taken the role of Peeta from Josh Hutcherson? Sure Pettyfer may have been more height appropriate for Jennifer Lawrence, but Hutcherson has this wildly natural charm that’s absolutely vital for the role, and that’s something that Pettyfer likely would never manage to achieve, even on a good day. While Four isn’t as cute and cuddly as the District 12 tribute, he does need a degree of heart and compassion and it’s hard to imagine Pettyfer being able to sell that.
But before we bump Divergent down the anticipation chart, it’s necessary to point out that Summit has yet to confirm Pettyfer’s casting. Knowing nothing about the Oh No They Didn’t! track record, it’s tough to pass judgment on the validity of its claim, but the fact that it links to a Sugar Scape piece, copies and pastes a portion of the article and then changes “Alex Pettyfer is rumoured to play Four” to “Alex Pettyfer is confirmed to play Four,” certainly raises some skepticism.
How do you feel about Pettyfer as an actor, and for this role in particular?
Update: The Divergent Facebook page has come alive with this update, shortly after the Pettyfer rumor began making the rounds: "Hey everyone! Despite what rumors you’re hearing, there has not been an official casting decision for Four, or anyone other than Shailene Woodley. Stay tuned to this page for official news - we'll let you know as soon as we have confirmed information!"