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Casting Watch: Ashley Judd Nabs Role in Sci-Fi YA Entry ‘Divergent,’ Starring Kate Winslet, Theo James and Shailene Woodley UPDATE

Casting Watch: Ashley Judd Nabs Role in Sci-Fi YA Entry 'Divergent,' Starring Kate Winslet, Theo James and Shailene Woodley UPDATE

Ashley Judd has been cast in one of the last major roles in “Divergent,” starring Kate Winslet, Theo James (“Downton Abbey”) and Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”), confirms The Hollywood Reporter. The film is based on the bestselling YA novel of the same name by Veronica Roth, and has begun principal photography in Chicago.

Judd, who recently considered running for Senate and currently has a role in “Olympus Has Fallen,” will play Woodley’s mother.

Ray Stephenson and Mekhi Pfifer are joining the sprawling cast, which also includes Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, Christian Madsen and Amy Newbold.

“Divergent,” to be directed by Neil Burger (“The Illusionist,”
“Limitless”) stands to be another young adult-oriented box-office
hopeful for Lionsgate, which spawned the hugely successful “The Hunger Games.”(Here’s TOH’s round-up of upcoming YA movies.) Summit Entertainment’s sci-fi action film is adapted by Evan Daugherty (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) and is the company’s bid for a new franchise. Lionsgate co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, who brought
the YA “Twilight” saga to the screen with blockbuster results at Summit
before their company was acquired by Lionsgate, purchased the rights to
the book last October.

Roth’s novel, set in a dystopian Chicago, concerns a futuristic society in which individuals who do not fit easily into certain personality types are labeled as “divergent.” Winslet will star as brainy Erudite Divergent Jeanine Matthews; Woodley is Tris Prior, a Divergent who unveils a mass conspiracy to destroy the titular group. Hailing from a group called the Dauntless, James plays Four, an instructor who joins her quest.

28-year-old James played a role in the first season of “Downton Abbey,” and has since enjoyed increasing success as David in 2012’s “Underworld: Awakening” and the leading role in CBS’s new crime drama, “Golden Boy.” 

Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher are producing the project via their Red Wagon Entertainment banner along with Pouya Shahbazian. Red Wagon’s Rachel Shane is executive producing.  Summit will release the film theatrically in North America in “The Hunger Games” slot on Friday, March 21, 2014.

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