updated 02/24/2014 AT 11:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/25/2014 AT 8:25 AM ET
She put her all into filming Divergent’s epic stunts – climbing a Ferris wheel, jumping off a train, getting submerged in a water tank – but Shailene Woodley also got the chance to film some quality romantic scenes with up-and-coming actor Theo James.
“He’s an incredibly masculine man with a beautiful soulful heart – and he was a great kisser,” Woodley tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview for PEOPLE’s Divergent special issue. The highly anticipated movie hits theaters March 21.
James, 29, who might be best known for his short-and-scandalous role as the Turkish diplomat who dies in Mary Crawley’s bed on Downton Abbey, made an immediate connection with Woodley.
“I saw it the first time they got in a room together,” notes Divergent director Neil Burger, who says the chemistry between his two stars “plays out as electricity.”
Woodley, 22, definitely needed some tender moments to make up for all the action sequences she had to endure during filming.
“I love adrenaline and working hard,” says Woodley, who has the actual battle scars (one on her hip and one on her chest) to show for doing most of her own stunts. “It was intense, but it was also very fun.”
For more exclusive photos and interviews with the cast, pick up a copy of PEOPLE’s special issue, on newsstands nationwide Friday