TODAY   |  March 11, 2014

Actor Mekhi Phifer: Sons finally think I’m ‘cool’

“Divergent” star Mekhi Phifer joins TODAY to chat about his role in the new science-fiction thriller, which is based on a best-selling novel by Veronica Roth.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> introduced to movie-goers 20 years ago. at 20 years old, he was in the spike lee film "clockers." since then playing memorable characters like future best friend in " 8 mile ."

>> and in the new film "divergent," everyone is divided in factions based on their virtues. mekhi plays max.

>> you join the warrior faction, tasked with the defense of this city and all its inhabitants. we believe in ordinary acts of bravery and the courage that drives one person to stand up for another. respect that. do us proud.

>> mekhi phifer joins us now. by the way, the only one i believe whose name is part of an eminem lyric.

>> that's very true. impressive.

>> there you go!

>> to this day, i walk in bars and they start playing that song.

>> of course.

>> billy raps it every day.

>> there are worse things that can be played when you walk into a bar. everyone at this table said oh my god, the books are great, the movie incredible. were you aware of these young adult books before you got into the project?

>> could be quite honest, i wasn't. when the script came across my desk, i just fell in love with the script. and, you know, as i started to get into it, started talking to people about it, started going diverge divergent, are you kidding and my oldest son, 14, was really excited. this is the first time he's ever been excited about anything in my career, ever.

>> proud of his famous dad.

>> forget me bringing home the bacon, anything about that, divergent, i'm cool, finally.

>> you're already outselling "twilight" right now in advance ticket sales. that goes to tell you how huge this is going to be.

>> veronica did such a wonderful job of putting these books together and the adaptations they did for the screenplay. they're just wonderful. a lot of people -- going on a multicity tour for this film. and so many people saying they like it more than the books.

>> wow.

>> did it blow you away when you go on to social media ? it's one thing to talk to social media people, blogging, ready to camp out.

>> absolutely.

>> and two sequels out of it. so you are employed forever.

>> at least for a couple years. no, it's great. and actually, it prompted me to be more active on twitter and instagram.

>> i'm going to follow you right now.

>> and i'm not that active on it. but when it comes to things like this, it's good to just get it out there and connect with the fans.

>> good.

>> for folks who haven't read the book, just really quickly, divergent, the character is a divergent. what does that mean?

>> basically it means that you don't fit into one of the five factions that the government has sort of set up for our society. and being that you -- like most of us, all of us sitting here are kind of divergent. we have a multitude of things that drive us, a multitude of characteristics that make us human beings , that make us have a soul. and she is like us. and so -- but the government -- it's hard for the government to control people like that.

>> wow.

>> mekhi phifer , we have loved you since "clockers."

>> we have.

>> good to be here!

>> and there is the movie and mekhi phifer .

>> and a ton of followers who just got on to twitter.

>> don't call it "the twitter" though.

>> by the way, guys, "divergent" hits theaters march 21st . thanks so much.