Shailene Woodley
Credit: Lester Cohen/WireImag

Well Divergent fans, the time for tests and simulations is over! Things are finally ramping up on the movie front with our first bit of casting news: we may have found our Tris! As we reported yesterday, actress Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Descendants) is currently in talks to play the 16-year-old protagonist of Veronica Roth’s popular YA trilogy. And, truth be told, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Here are five reasons why I’m excited by this casting:

1. Woodley was one of the contenders to play Katniss in The Hunger Games: The role ultimately went to Jennifer Lawrence, of course, and Woodley has since admitted that the other actress was the right choice. She told MTV in March: “Yeah, I definitely auditioned. It wasn’t, like, a great audition. But I think that Jennifer Lawrence is perfect for that role.” Why is this a good thing? It means she’s familiar with the kind of audience Divergent will attract and that she’s prepared to take on the responsibility of playing a character that could draw lot of attention — media and otherwise.

2. She’s got cred as an actress: Okay, I know a lot of people will be scandalized by the fact that their potential Tris was also the star of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. But have you seen The Descendants? Woodley delivers a powerful performance as a drinking, cursing teen seething with resentment for her father. Imagine how hard it is to act as though you dislike George Clooney. The girl should have gotten an Oscar for that alone. Plus, she comes with a stamp of approval from Clooney himself: “She really elevates that role from a stereotype. You can write and direct it. But at the end of the day, someone has to play it.”

3. She’s committed to her TV show: Say what you will about Woodley or The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but even in the midst of all the hubbub surrounding The Descendants, Woodley stayed firmly committed to the ABC Family series for another two seasons. It has since been cancelled, but Woodley never made the move to ditch it herself in favor of her burgeoning film career. She respects her work, regardless of what anyone says. That’s who I want to see sign on to a franchise that has such lasting potential: someone who will stick with it through the end (which you know is going to be four movies) even if she gets higher profile offers. (There’s rumors E L James wants her for Fifty Shades of Grey…)

4. She has a young face: As much as I love Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss (and I really do), she doesn’t look 16. That fact doesn’t exactly hurt the movie, but I think it would be a little more powerful to see someone who looks like a teenager; that is, like someone too innocent to have to face such rough circumstances. Woodley’s got this look — her rather effeminate voice, her full cheeks, those sad eye (see here.) No, she doesn’t look badass, but Tris isn’t a killing machine when she arrives at Dauntless. She’s a secret Divergent and she’s scared. I want my Tris to reflect that and I think Woodley’s up the task.

5. She looks like she can kick ass: Like I said, Woodley’s not a badass, but she looks like she could be. She’s no Hollywood waif. Slim, yes, but realistically so. (I felt dirty Googling this, but here she is in a bikini to give you an idea.) Aren’t you tired of too-thin girls getting these meaty action roles and tossing 400 lb men over their shoulders? Ridiculous. There are a lot of physical fights in Divergent and I want to see someone I believe could win. Tris is small, but she’s strong. Woodley looks like she could be too.

But enough about me. What do you think of your possible Tris?

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