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Celebrity Choosing Ceremony

Amanda Bell
March 25, 2014

In "Divergent," the latest phenom hopeful from the YA book-to-film genre, society has been split into five different functional factions.*

Each year, as a rite of passage, all the 16-year-olds in the city are gathered together and asked to formally select which one of these groups they’d like to commit to based on their interests and personalities and so forth.

It’s an intriguing concept, this Choosing Ceremony business, so we wanted to have a bit of fun with it by hosting a celebrity sorting session of our own. See if you agree with our top four picks — the “Divergent” faithful will get that number choice — for each.

Abnegation (The Selfless)

Angelina Jolie: She may not let a year go by between mirror checks, but otherwise the "Unbroken" director is all Abnegation. Not only did she adopt three children from underprivileged nations around the globe and step up as a U.N. goodwill ambassador, but she also helps run a number of humanitarian organizations and is said to donate a third of her salary to charity.

Sean Penn: The two-time Oscar-winning actor has long positioned himself within the fray of political and social activism, but it’s been Sean Penn’s hands-on disaster relief work in New Orleans and Haiti which have really made him worthy of the grey threads of Abnegation.

Tom Hanks: Tom Hanks would be a shoo-in for Amity if it weren’t for the fact that he’s just so very charitable. He’s been a quiet supporter of dozens of organizations, but he selflessly doesn’t boast about his many contributions. As his wife Rita Wilson put it, “He’s very discreet, he doesn’t make a big deal about it and he’s very consistent.”

Ben Affleck: The next Batman has been a staunch supporter for several charitable organizations over the years, most prominently his Eastern Congo Initiative, which he formed in 2010.

Amity (The Peaceful)

Matt Damon: Hollywood’s resident Mr. Nice Guy Matt Damon does not seem to have a mean bone in his body. Not only is he witty and self-deprecating and full of that everyday man persona, but the proof is in the pudding as he genuinely doesn’t seem to have an enemy to his name (okay, except for Jimmy Kimmel).

Paul Rudd: Ant-Man-to-be Paul Rudd swears he can be a jerk sometimes, but we do not believe that for one second. The guy radiates positivity — even to random passersby on the street, apparently.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: The "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" star has been doing the acting thing for a long time — he started booking major TV commercial gigs in pre-school — but here is a man who has remained un-jaded by success (and immune to that apparent former child star syndrome going around). He’s always got a great attitude and a big, warm smile to share, and his energy is very obviously infectious to those around him.

Tina Fey: The "Muppets Most Wanted" star’s utter likability is unifying in and of itself. She could probably burp and everyone would smile — actually, scratch the “probably” qualifier there because they absolutely would.

Candor (The Honest)

Jennifer Lawrence: If there’s one thing everyone seems to know and love about Jennifer Lawrence, it’s her tell-it-like-it-is demeanor. Whether it’s a story about her sex toy stash being raided or a note about her talent for swift urination, she’s giving you the brutal truth. As her “Hunger Games” co-star Woody Harrelson once said, “She’ll say anything.”

Bill Murray: Bill Murray is super-duper nice and all, but he isn’t afraid to get a little loosey goosey in his chattering. For example, when he was speaking with Yahoo recently about his participation in Wes Anderson’s latest, "The Grand Budapest Hotel," he casually admitted, “I didn’t have much to do with it. I just showed up and did what I was told.” Nothing like a little non-false modesty!

George Clooney: Remember that time George Clooney went and blasted Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe and Ashton Kutcher all in the same interview? Yeah, that’s just one example of how the "Tomorrowland" star is unafraid to speak out every now and then.

Ricky Gervais: If there is anyone in Hollywood who was absolutely cut from the Candor cloth, it’s Ricky Gervais. The fire-tongued comedian has basically made an entire career out of saying whatever comes to his mind, and in fact he even made a whole movie about a world where people never fib (2009’s “The Invention of Lying”).

Dauntless (The Brave)

Jason Statham: As many shoot-‘em-up-bang-bang and explosion scenes as Jason Statham has done, it might be surprising to learn that the guy almost always chooses to do his own stunt work. Pretty brave indeed. He’s so into it that he’s even called upon the Oscars to start recognizing the work of stunt actors.

Gina Carano: The MMA fighter-turned-actress is one tough cookie. The girl may be lovely, but she can also put a bruisin’ on just about anybody. We suspect she’d rank pretty highly in the fighting portion of her Dauntless initiation.

Denzel Washington: For some of his films, Denzel Washington has had to pull a mini-Four routine — “learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it” — and do things like climb aboard a moving train and actually perform hand-to-hand fight sequences. Considering that face of his really is his moneymaker, that kinda stuff takes guts.

Johnny Knoxville: Almost no one in Hollywood has got stones like this “Jackass” star. You name it, he’s done it, all for sake of entertainment — including those times he rode a homemade exploding rocket, let a giant bull run him over, and, oh, shot himself in the chest (with a bulletproof vest on, but still).

Erudite (The Intelligent)

Natalie Portman: The Oscar-winning “Black Swan” star is multilingual and has a psych degree from Harvard. Oh, and she also co-authored a couple of research papers which were published in scientific journals. No biggie, right?

James Franco: It’d be shorter to list which prestigious universities James Franco has not yet attended. ‘Cause the intense multi-hyphenate just loves to go to school. In fact, in between acting gigs, he often moonlights as a professor of literature and film, ‘cause why not.

Kerry Washington: The lovely “Scandal” star just so happens to be an alum of George Washington University, where she recently gave the commencement address (and received an honorary doctorate to supplement her earned degree in anthropology and sociology).

Steve Martin: Before becoming a standup comedian, the iconic funnyman majored in philosophy at Cal State — he eventually transferred to UCLA to receive a degree in theater, but he was this close to pursuing a career as a professor instead. Whodathunkit.

*The 5 factions, in more detail, are: Abnegation, the selfless who help govern the city and take care of others; Amity, the peaceful, who run the farms and are generally full of prancey merriment; Candor, the honest who don’t believe in holding back anything and make for pretty good leaders; Dauntless, the brave who jump trains and get tattooed and guard the fence that surrounds the city; and Erudite, the intelligent who make up the smarty task force of doctors and scientists and teachers and such.