Junior Parker Klebenow slowly makes his way to the stage. He hovers over the Abnegation bowl, and then slices his hand, blood spilling onto the coals, signifying his choice to stay loyal to his faction. After his decision is made, Klebenow walks to stand among the other Abnegation members, and the director calls, “Cut!”
The stage was part of a movie set. The action of cutting his hand over the coals was completely fake, as was the blood that followed. After starting his acting career with roles in a few short films and a recurring role in a couple of episodes of NBC’s Chicago Fire, Parker Klebenow, or as he’s known in the entertainment world, Parker Mack, will make his debut on the big screen in the highly anticipated film, Divergent, based on the popular novel by Veronica Roth.
Klebenow landed his role as Sam Robertson, a member of the Abnegation faction, through his agent when they heard Divergent was looking for “more experienced actors to play more significant, non-speaking roles.” As far as prepping for the role, Klebenow said he did not have to do much.
“I read the book because I was interested in the story,” Klebenow said. “My character didn’t have much of a backstory, so I just got into the mindset of the ideals of Abnegation.”
The novel takes place in futuristic Chicago, so consequently, the movie was filmed in multiple locations around the city. The auditorium of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist was transformed for the Choosing Ceremony, Klebenow’s particular scene. Klebenow described the filming process as lengthy and complicated.
“There are hundreds of different jobs on a large set like Divergent,” Klebenow said. “A two minute scene could take half of a 12 hour day, which is the standard work day on all professional sets.”
The set was not the only transformation made. Klebenow was also transformed to look like he belonged to Abnegation, one of the five factions in the world of Divergent.
“Each faction had its respective clothing,” Klebenow said. “(My faction) was Abnegation, so the clothing was grey, drab, woolen, and quite uncomfortable to say the least.”
Klebenow shared the set with actors such as Shailene Woodley, known for her roles in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager and The Descendents, Theo James, and Kate Winslet of Titanic fame. Klebenow conceded his interaction with the film stars was limited, though he did get to meet the lead.
“I talked to Shailene (Woodley) a few times,” Klebenow said. “She is a very nice person. I didn’t have as much interaction with the other actors. I talked to Shailene because she seemed more easy to talk to.”
Klebenow has been enrolled in an online program, which has allowed him to “attend” Central while pursuing his acting Career, though he said Divergent was not a conflict for him, school-wise.
“(Filming) didn’t affect school because it was over a weekend, which was convenient,” Klebenow said. “Most sets will work a full week and weekend, so you can miss a lot of school, if you were the lead.”
Klebenow has been in California since late September, attending multiple auditions. While he says there are many auditions he has been excited for, mostly he’s just been busy.
“Because audition times are such short notice, there isn’t much time to be excited,” Klebenow said.
Klebenow plans to return to Central for his senior year, and students can support him in movie theaters starting Mar. 21.