updated 03/21/2014 AT 11:40 AM ET
•originally published 03/20/2014 AT 10:45 AM ET
Move over Katniss, Tris Prior is the new tough girl in Hollywood – and she’s bringing a bevy of kick-ass lady friends along with her onto the big screen.
PEOPLE presents your one-stop guide to the iron-willed women of Divergent, in theaters March 21.
Shailene Woodley as Tris
The heroine of the futuristic action-adventure film first gained notoriety as the star of ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager and gained critical acclaim – and a Golden Globe nomination – for her portrayal of George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants. But Woodley is poised for international stardom as a “Divergent” in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s young adult novel. “I feel like the second you start thinking too far in the future you just go crazy,” Woodley, 22, tells PEOPLE of the impending Jennifer Lawrence-esque attention. “I’m just so lucky to be where I am and to experience all these amazing things.”
The Oscar winner, 38, goes toe-to-toe with Woodley as the film’s antagonistic tyrant – even performing her own stunts while pregnant! “There is a scene where she fights Shailene and she was like, ‘You know I’m taking the falls.’ And I m like, ‘Stop! You’re pregnant,” says director Neil Burger. “But she was still wanting to do it. She’s a pro. She’s completely present.”
The seasoned actress, 45, cherished playing Woodley’s mother. Natalie Prior is a woman who is as skilled with a gun as she is at being a parent. “It’s both fun and empowering to play someone very principled – a woman with a strong backbone, which she has come by through intense life experiences,” says Judd. “I love that my character has opinions.”
To get into character as a tough-girl tattoo artist, the Nikita star, 34, adopted a hard-edge look she says was inspired by Jonny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. “You look at her and you know you don’t mess with this woman,” she says of Tori. “She’s a very unwilling mentor [to Tris], but she takes this girl under her wing because it is the right thing to do.”
Her father Lenny may be a star of The Hunger Games, but that does not mean the actress, 25, was prepared for the physical training required for Divergent. “I was like, totally, I got this,” says the X Men: First Class star. “And then they asked us to do, like, 300 push-ups. I was like, ‘Oh my god. I can’t.’ I was in awful shape. By the end we were all really into it, and it was really fun. It was a good way for us to bond as a cast.”
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