Shailene Woodley: Jennifer Lawrence Convinced Me to Do Divergent

03/06/2014 at 10:50 AM EST

Shailene Woodley in Divergent: Jennifer Lawrence Convinced Me to Sign On
Shailene Woodley (left) and Jennifer Lawrence
Shailene Woodley was hesitant about signing on for Divergent – until reigning franchise queen Jennifer Lawrence stepped in.

"You must do it. You will not regret it for a second," the Hunger Games star emailed Woodley, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Yes, there are some hard things, but there are so many beautiful things that will come from an opportunity like this."

Woodley spent five years on the hit ABC Family show The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and after acting in a string of indies – including her breakout turn in 2011's The Descendants – she wasn't sure if a YA action series was the right move.

"Having come off a TV show, I was kind of in the place where I was like, 'I'm never signing a contract for more than one movie,' because once you do sign a contract, legally, you're liable," the 22-year-old tells THR.

Luckily for fans of Veronica Roth's dystopian Divergent literary series, Lawrence convinced Woodley otherwise: The actress will make her hotly anticipated debut as Tris when Divergent premieres March 21, and fans can look forward to two sequels.

Despite her initial reluctance, it sounds like Woodley has fully embraced her heroic new role.

"I love adrenaline and working hard," she said in PEOPLE's special Divergent issue. "It was intense, but it was also very fun."

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