Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer talk trilogies and tattoos 

click to enlarge Maggie Q
  • Maggie Q plays a tattoo artist in “Divergent.”

Some of the older actors in “Divergent” found the filmmaking experience to be a departure for them.

Maggie Q, 34, and Mekhi Phifer, 39, say that because the film — which is based on the blockbuster teen book series by Veronica Roth — is the first of a proposed trilogy, they didn’t always have a full grasp of their character arcs.

“Neither of us has ever done a trilogy. It’s interesting to figure out how to portray the character not knowing where it’s going — or where they came from,” says Phifer, who plays a faction leader whose lines are mostly monologues in which he rallies troops.

“It’s very TV-like, in that you have to have faith in where you’re going. If they do things in the first one that don’t work, they’re going to change it up in the second one,” adds Q, who portrays a tattoo artist who shares more intimate scenes with Tris (Shailene Woodley), the young protagonist destined to be different in a dystopian world divided by factions. Complex tattoos play a big part in the film.

“There was a lot of discussion about who was going to have what tattoos and why,” says Q, a former model who has appeared in action films such as “Naked Weapon,” “Mission: Impossible III” and “Live Free or Die Hard.”

The initial fittings took five hours. Then, each actor had a team of two artists applying the tattoos each morning, and three cleaning them off at the end of the day.

“One time I ran out of there and I went to Whole Foods, and people were looking at me really weird,” Q says. “And I checked and I was covered in tattoos. I looked like a bad girl!”

Tattoo-free today, Phifer — who appeared in “Clockers,” “8 Mile” and “O” — is thrilled to share a movie with his oldest son, who is 14.

“He’s really excited,” she says. “He doesn’t care about anything else I’ve done. So for him to go, ‘OK, I’ll go with you to the premiere,’ is huge.”

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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