Shailene Woodley (Tris)
The role: In a futuristic dystopia where 16-year-olds must choose between five factions — Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent) — Tris (born Beatrice Prior of Abnegation) comes of age and gives herself a new name when she defects to the Dauntless faction. She’s branded Divergent during her aptitude tests, meaning she could belong to any number of factions (in her case, Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite), but her evaluator warns her to keep it a secret, deleting any record of her results. Being Divergent is dangerous for some unknown reason, and Tris is initially confused and frightened by the designation. When it comes time for her to choose her faction, she instinctively selects Dauntless, shocking both her family and herself. Yet, as she faces her first test as a member of the fearless faction — jumping from a moving train onto a roof — she finds a strength in herself she didn?t know she had, a strength she will come to rely on throughout the traitorous initiation process.
The actor: Currently holding down a starring role in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Woodley broke out with a buzzy turn in 2011’s The Descendants. Coming up, she’ll play Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, and she’s also attached to the film adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. —Tara Fowler
Theo James (Four)
The role: Four does have a name, not that we’re spoiling it (though you could easily look it up). He serves as the transfer initiates’ trainer (as opposed to the Dauntless-born initiates) when they first arrive at the Dauntless headquarters. As much of a mystery as his enigmatic nickname would suggest, Four clashes with Eric, a sadistic Dauntless leader who resents Four ever since he beat him during their initiation. Eric has it in for Tris as she is a transfer from Abnegation like Four, which leads Four to feel protective of her. But of course that feeling eventually develops into something more (cue romantic violin music)…
The actor: James currently headlines CBS detective series Golden Boy. Though he’s appeared in a number of films, including You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Underworld: Awakening, Downton Abbey fans will recognize him as the fatally amorous Turk Mr. Pamuk. —Tara Fowler
Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews)
The role: Icy Jeanine, a woman as dangerous as she is brilliant, leads the smartypants Erudite faction. (She got the job thanks to her off-the-charts IQ score.) Though she always appears calm — ”more machine than maniac,” as Tris puts it — Jeanine’s also something of a mad scientist: She’s the brains behind the aptitude test that helps teens pick which faction to join, and she’s also developed the serum that Dauntless uses in its training simulations.
The actor: Divergent will be the Oscar winner’s first foray into franchise fare; she’s also set to appear in this year’s Labor Day, a literary adaptation helmed by Jason Reitman. —Hillary Busis
Jai Courtney (Eric)
The role: Cruel, calculating Eric is one of the Dauntless leaders who trains Tris and the other initiates. He’s also got a personal grudge against Four, a former classmate who beat Eric out for their initiate class’s number one spot.
The actor: Courtney’s no stranger to action — he broke out as noble Roman gladiator Varro in Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and he perfected the art of quipping while kicking ass opposite Bruce Willis in this year’s A Good Day to Die Hard. —Hillary Busis
Ashley Judd (Natalie Prior)
The role: There’s more than meets the eye to Tris’ quiet and affectionate mother. Also the wife of one of Abegnation’s leaders, Natalie watches both of her children pick different factions on their Choosing Day.
The actor: The two-time Golden Globe nominee (for the 2004 Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely and the 1996 TV movie Norma Jean & Marilyn) recently eyed but decided against a bid for one of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seats. The 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls jump-started her film career, which has included dramas (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), rom-coms (Someone Like You), intrigues (Double Jeopardy), and action flicks (Olympus Has Fallen). The actress, who’s related to country music superstars Naomi and Wynonna Judd, has also made a mark in TV with Sisters (1991-94) and Missing (2012). —Denise Warner
Tony Goldwyn (Andrew Prior)
The role: Tris’ father Andrew Prior, one of Abegnation’s leaders, is frustrated by the scrutiny his faction has come under — especially from the Erudite.
The actor: After an uncomfortably good turn as Carl Bruner, the secretly villainous friend of Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) in 1990’s Ghost, Goldwyn has been prolific both in front of and behind the camera for the past two decades. Things got decidedly steamier in 2011, though, when he debuted in the role of dashingly dallying U.S. President Fitzgerald ”Fitz” Grant in Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal. Goldwyn shouldn’t have any trouble sparking with his Divergent wife Ashley Judd — they co-starred in 1992’s Kuffs and 1997’s Kiss the Girls, plus he directed her in the 2001 romantic comedy Someone Like You. —Denise Warner
Mekhi Phifer (Max)
The role: Dauntless leader Max, a ruthless trainer who terrifies the initiates.
The actor: The 8 Mile star has been a fixture in film for nearly 20 years, with a résumé including 1997’s Soul Food, 2003’s Honey, and the Shakespeare-goes-to-prep-school update O (2001). On TV, he’s appeared in everything from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Torchwood and the 2001 Beyoncé starrer Carmen: A Hip Hopera, though he’s best remembered for playing ER‘s Dr. Gregory Pratt from 2002-08. —Denise Warner
Miles Teller (Peter)
The role: Like Tris’s bestie Christina, Peter is a Candor transfer; unlike Christina, he’s an overly competitive, violent creep who has a habit of permanently injuring those who get in his way. Note to fellow initiates: Sleep with one eye open when this guy’s around.
The actor: Teller gained tons of buzz this year for his starring role opposite Woodley in Sundance darling The Spectacular Now, another adaptation of a popular YA novel. He’s also appeared in teen-centric projects like Project X and the 2011 remake of Footloose. —Hillary Busis
Maggie Q (Tori)
The role: Dauntless tattoo artist Tori doubles as an aptitude test administrator, which means she’s the first person to discover Tris’ divergence. Like many of Divergent‘s characters, Tori also has a dark past that gives her a special interest in Tris’ wellbeing.
The actor: Q’s been kicking ass and taking names on The CW’s Nikita since 2010. Previous big-screen action roles include Impossible Missions Force agent Zhen in Mission: Impossible III and baddie Mai Linh in Live Free or Die Hard. —Hillary Busis
Zoë Kravitz (Christina)
The role: Christina was trained from birth to tell it like it is; she’s a transfer to Dauntless from Candor, the faction that values honesty above all else. She’s also scrappy, determined, and brave, just like Tris; no wonder the two of them quickly become close friends.
The actor: As the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, Kravitz has star quality in her blood. Though she’s appeared in X-Men: First Class and Californication, her biggest role has yet to be seen; she’s costarring in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2013 sci-fi thriller After Earth opposite Will and Jaden Smith. —Hillary Busis
Ansel Elgort (Caleb Prior)
The role: Caleb is Tris’ older brother, a model member of the Abnegation faction — until he isn’t. When the time comes for Caleb to choose his own faction, he selects Erudite much to everyone’s surprise, particularly given the tension that exists between the two factions. But, as Caleb reveals, he has always been a curious soul, an avid reader with a hunger for knowledge — and such hunger has no place among the selfless people of Abnegation.
The actor: Elgort is a newcomer with only one other film credit to his name: this year’s Carrie. He plays Tommy Ross, the sensitive jock who takes Carrie to the prom at his girlfriend’s request, only to fall for her (and SPOILER ALERT then die). He is the son of famed fashion photographer Arthur Elgort, who’s best known for his work in Vogue. —Tara Fowler
Amy C. Newbold (Molly Atwood)
The role: Originally from Candor, Molly joins Dauntless along with Tris and the other initiates. With an alias like ”The Tank,” you can bet she’s up to no good. Molly constantly mocks Tris, tries to start fights, and, well, let’s just say she’s not a very good loser. The Clove of Divergent, if you will. Molly is described as having bronze skin, black stringy hair, and a rather unfortunate bulbous nose.
The actor: Newbold does not have an unfortunate bulbous nose — in fact, she’s quite attractive. As an actress, she’s appeared on the TV series Chicago Fire and Boss. More interestingly, she’s worked in the casting department on various projects, including this summer’s Man of Steel. We like to hope this means Henry Cavill will be making a cameo in Divergent. —Tara Fowler
Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Will)
The role: Will is one of Tris’ allies during the Dauntless initiation along with Christina and Al. A transfer from Erudite, he does things like memorize maps for fun. But he’s not all brain: Will consistently places high in the initiation rankings. Oh, and he’s usually the one keeping Tris from hitting people (which happens fairly often for a former Abnegation member).
The actor: Lloyd-Hughes is the younger brother of Henry Lloyd-Hughes, who’s got his own YA franchise to his name (well, he appears in it anyway): He played Roger Davies in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As for Ben, he’s largely made appearances on a variety of TV shows, such as the British (or, as we like to think of it, the good) Skins and The Hour. He most recently played Bentley Drummle in Great Expectations. —Tara Fowler
Ben Lamb (Edward)
The role: A top-notch fighter from Erudite, Edward transfers to Dauntless during his Choosing Ceremony. Not to spoil things, but we bet he regrets it. At the start of Divergent, Edward’s dating Myra, a fellow Dauntless initiate, which probably makes for a rather awkward relationship. (You’d be surprised by how many of these characters hook up. This is a competition, people!)
The actor: Lamb is not, alas, the same Ben Lamb who was named 2011 World Series of Poker Player of the Year. Or Benjamin Lamb, English organist (who has long since died, given that he lived during the 1700s). No, this Ben Lamb has previous played ”Posh Male Candidate” in the TV series Silk and, rather ironically considering his 18th century counterpart, a clarinetist in the short Il Maestro. He’s currently shooting a new UK TV series called The White Queen. —Tara Fowler
Christian Madsen (Al)
The role: Al is characterized as being ”big, warm, and clumsy.” He’s a sweet guy who transferred to Dauntless because he wants to protect people. Unfortunately, though he initially does well during the tests, Al’s soft personality is his downfall for the Dauntless are anything but sweet. He develops a crush on Tris, but she has eyes for only one man — and that man’s name is a number.
The actor: Madsen had a small part in the Justin Timberlake In Time and, more recently, appeared in the Michael Madsen film Refuge from the Storm. Noticed the two Madsens, did you? It’s not a coincidence. Michael (of Free Willy fame!) is Christian?s father. —Tara Fowler
Ray Stevenson (Marcus Eaton)
The role: As Erudite levels their attacks on Abegnation and its leader, faction head Marcus is the target of one of the so-called smear campaigns. Rumors that Eaton beat his son — who left Abegnation for a different faction when he turned 16 — splash across the front page of newspapers. But Marcus’ has a surprising connection to Tris (which we won’t spoil here).
The actor: Hailing from Northern Ireland, Stevenson caught TV viewers’ attention as Titus Pullo in HBO’s Rome (2005?2007) and recently concluded a stint on season 7 of Dexter. On the big screen, he took over the title role for Punisher: War Zone in 2008, appeared in 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and will reprise the role of Volstagg from Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (2011) in the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. —Denise Warner