January 27, 2013 at 02:00 PM EST


Current Status
In Season
140 minutes
Wide Release Date
Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley
Neil Burger
Sci-fi and Fantasy

With the news that Kate Winslet is very close to signing on to star in the film adaptation of Divergent (presumably, though nof officially, as cunning antagonist Jeanine Matthews), it’s only natural to start thinking about how else director Neil Burger (Limitless) should fill out the cast.

Veronica Roth’s 2011 YA thriller often gets compared to The Hunger Games. And it’s true, both series feature brave, bad-ass heroines in a dystopian future and plenty of life-or-death action. Divergent‘s Beatrice Prior, 16, must choose a faction to call home. Each faction is dedicated to virtues found within society: There’s Erudite for the more cerebral; Candor for the honest; Amity for those seeking peace; Abnegation for the selfless; and Dauntless for the brave. There’s no sorting hat to help those decide so it’s a shock when Beatrice — who grew up in an Abnegation home and based on her test results was eligible to go to three different factions — chooses to go with the wild and daring Dauntless and rename herself Tris. Initiation is scarily competitive. While Tris makes friends and embarks on a romance with the mysterious and stoic “Four,” she’s also guarding a secret about herself that could put her life in danger.

When The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley signed on last October to play Beatrice, I rejoiced — as did some of my co-workers. (By the way, between Divergent and her role as Mary Jane Watson in 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man sequel, Woodley is going to have a spectacular year.) Though Tris in the book is described as tiny and blonde, the 21-year-old actress is brunette and long-limbed. Even so, there’s something about her that is sort of perfect. I think it’s the white-hot rage she displayed in The Descendants. Tris is fierce, headstrong, and smart — all qualities that Woodley portrays rather effortlessly.

With Woodley and Winslet both on board, fans can focus on who should play some of the story’s other main characters before filming begins later this year in Chicago.

Most importantly? Four. He’s an intriguing character, stoic and sensitive and brave. Some of the names that have been publicly floated include Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike), Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), and Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class). These guys make sense, but there are other folks I’d like to see considered: Dane DeHaan, who was so great in Chronicle (a movie some of us are quite passionate about), Nicholas Hoult, whom everyone will see in Warm Bodies when it opens Feb. 1; and (my dream pick) Jake Abel, who plays Luke in the Percy Jackson series and Ian in the upcoming adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. 

Three more key players in the story:

Tris’ brother, Caleb Prior: I’d like to see Abel’s costar and romantic rival in The Host, Max Irons (son of Jeremy) take on Caleb. He looks enough like Woodley to be believable as her brother and has an innate gravitas that the character requires.

Christina, Tris’ Dauntless ally: While I really wish I could mess around with the time-space continuum so a 16-year-old Zoë Saldana could play this part, I’d choose Friday Night Light‘s Jurnee Smollett or X-Men: First Class‘s Zoe Kravitz. Both actresses are beautiful, likable, and have an underlying tough streak.

Tori, an older Dauntless ally: I’d love to see Lipstick Jungle‘s Lindsay Price or  The Newsroom‘s Oliva Munn play Tori, who gives Tris invaluable advice and is one of my favorite characters in the book.

Ok, it’s your turn, Divergent fans. Who’s on your casting wish list? Sound off below!

Related:Kate Winslet in talks for role in ‘Divergent’

Five reasons Shailene Woodley could make a great Tris in ‘Divergent’

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