John Green, Shailene Woodley, and The Fault in Our Stars Cast on Adapting the Book and Captain America Hotties
Walking into a room with the stars and writer of The Fault in Our Stars is a lot like meeting a family for the first time. Picture Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, and John Green all hanging around a table, laughing and joking around just seconds after scratching another interview off their list. If the film emanates a glow of genuine passion, it's because of the energy in that room. Even I, just another visitor, felt strangely at home when asking the first question. "I'm going to start with something you've probably had to answer already."
In an instant, Woodley plainly states, "Brothers to lovers?" Everyone laughs, and I reassure them. This was going to kick off with something unrelated to moving from their stint as brother and sister on Divergent to lovers in The Fault in Our Stars. This was about whether or not they'd read John Green's novel before shooting.
"Yes. Quite a few times," she says, nudging Elgort to add more than a nod to my question, much like a real sibling or partner would do. "We were in Chicago and Ansel's like, 'Yeah we're gonna go read together this weekend,' and there wasn't nearly enough enthusiasm when I was talking about how amazing the book was. Then he said he hadn't read it."
"She was saying if I didn't read the book by the time we got to the read she was gonna be so mad at me," he explains. "And I was like -- okay, if I don't read the book I'm gonna go in the room and this is gonna go terribly. Doesn't matter how prepared I am. I read the book in two days and it was so good."
John chimes in giddily with a, "Thanks man! I also like it!" It's easy to see how happy Green is with how the film is doing and how enthusiastic the cast is about it, and the actors feel the same way. If it wasn't for Green's writing, they'd never be here. Elgort goes on, "It was when I went to dinner with John one night in Pittsburgh, and he just kept talking in this way I'd read, and I just thought: this is real life Augustus Waters. This is how he talks. This makes sense. I'm gonna make Augustus Waters myself as John Green. I gotta take some John Green and put it in myself."
Wolff and Woodley agree; they all thought their characters had a lot of Green in them. His compassion, his intelligence, his wit, it's all there in Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac. But if you ask Green, he'll tell you he writes, in part, to get away from himself.
"It's tremendously liberating not to be yourself for a while and living inside of a different consciousness," he says. "The thing I loved about being Hazel for a while was that she's so empathetic and so open to others. Shailene is like that as well and I think that's part of how they connected. She just intuitively understood that about Hazel in a deep way that most people couldn't. I feel like I'm not like that as a person, but I'd like to be. I want to be one of those people who thinks it's okay to tread lightly upon the earth; who wants to be as generous as possible to others."
At that, Woodley and Wolff chime in immediately by reassuring John that he is that person. "If they were trying to find the voice of young people during this time, you'd read a John Green book," Wolff says, and it's probably true. Between his career as a novelist (Looking for Alaska; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; and Paper Towns, the next in line to be adapted for the big screen with Wolff as the star, among others), and the Nerdfighter movement he and his brother Hank started, it's easy to see how influential a voice he is for young adult audiences.