Australian actor Keiynan Lonsdale in a scene from the movie Insurgent.
Australian actor Keiynan Lonsdale in a scene from the movie Insurgent. Entertainment One

Dance Academy star swaps steps for guns in Insurgent

THERE is an Australian invasion in the Divergent sequel Insurgent.

The film franchise, based on Veronica Roth's series of young adult (YA) novels, has been touted as the new Hunger Games.

It is set in a near-future dystopian America and also centres on a strong female lead, Shailene Woodley.

In an isolated Chicago, society has been divided into five factions based on people's personality types.

But a small percentage of the population doesn't fit into just one category and these "divergents", like Woodley's Tris, are seen as a threat by those who control the orderly system.

Returning action star Jai Courtney is joined in the second film by two fellow Aussies: Oscar nominee Naomi Watts and up-and-coming Sydney talent Keiynan Lonsdale.

Lonsdale is best known for his role in ABC's teen drama Dance Academy.

"I felt like I was walking into the coolest high school in the world and only the best students were allowed there and I'd just been chucked into this school by mistake," he told APN.

"But everyone made me feel comfortable. Everyone introduced themselves to me and made me realise it was an environment I could feel good in."

Two weeks after landing the role of Dauntless-born Uriah, Lonsdale was filming a scene for the film on a rooftop in Atlanta, Georgia.

 From left, Keiynan Lonsdale, Zoe Kravitz and Maggie Q as Dauntless rebels in Insurgent.
From left, Keiynan Lonsdale, Zoe Kravitz and Maggie Q as Dauntless rebels in Insurgent. Entertainment One

"I got to shoot some guns and had people shooting at me, it was pretty insane," he said.

"My first scene was with me and Shailene and we got straight in this fight scene. I was thrown in the deep end a bit but it was good because it made me comfortable for the rest of the shoot.

My hardest and most challenging work was behind me at that point."

Insurgent is the 23-year-old's first overseas role after several audition trips to Los Angeles.

"I used to go over there for three months at a time and try to audition as much as possible," he said.

"Even though I didn't land anything, without that experience I probably wouldn't have landed Insurgent.

"I don't know how I got the job but I got it."

His character Uriah, born into the courageous Dauntless faction, features in the first book but was left out of the first film.

Fans were quick to point out the omission on social media and there was a lot of anticipation about who would play him in Insurgent.

"It was really cool when I got cast. There was an influx of tweets and followers and they were all pretty positive," Lonsdale said.

"I felt a bit of pressure, but I'm glad I'm the one who gets to bring him to life."

Uriah is one of the Dauntless who sides with Tris to rebel against their leader Eric (Courtney) and the power-hungry Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet).

"Uriah has a great outlook on life. Amongst the chaos that he's in, he is like this bright, cheeky light of energy that makes Tris feel more comfortable about herself," he said.

"Uriah is divergent, like Tris, and that's why he's a free thinker. That's how he and Tris

connect. He wants more out of the world and more out of life."

Lonsdale will next star in Disney's live action drama The Finest Hours opposite Chris Pine and Eric Bana.

"I flew to Boston the day after I finished on Insurgent. It was great but it was so different from Insurgent. All the cast were a lot older than me," he said.

"It's based on a true story from 1952 about a coast guard rescue mission."

Insurgent opens nationally today.