It’s not often the author of a book has such a close relationship to the people who decide to turn it into a film. But when you’re John Green, creator ofThe New York Times’ best-sellingThe Fault In Our Stars, not only do you visit the set when you can, but you make little videos of your experience and share them on your YouTube channel as well.
Green has been enthusiastically promoting the film based on his book, giving it his thumbs up early on and spending a lot of time on set. And crying because of it too – “Almost every day that I was on set,” he admits. “It was so overwhelming to me that all these talented people were giving a new life to this story that I had written. They really honoured my book, and that’s a rare feeling for an author to have.”
Green has been credited with changing ideas about what a cancer novel – and subsequent movie – should be. “I wanted to tell a story about people living with a serious illness or a disability, and show how they’re not fundamentally ‘other’ from the healthy among us. They’re not less human – they still have the same love, anger, frustration, excitement as all of us.”
Shailene Woodley, who plays the lead character of Hazel Grace Lancaster, says that’s one of the reasons she wanted to be in the film. “The cancer is a big part of their life but it’s not the only identifying thing about them,” she says. “I really like that about the story.”
Director Josh Boone says they met with a lot of kids living with cancer in preparation for the film, and found many similarities to the characters in Green’s books. “I was amazed at how much they were like Hazel and Augustus in the book – how funny and philosophical they are,” Boone says.
The respect shown to teenagers and their love is also the aspect of the film that attracted Laura Dern to the role of Shailene’s mother. “John gives us an opportunity to share, as moviegoers and as readers, this experience of what it is to love. Each of us comes into it with our own experience. I’m so moved by their love story, but there’s also a parallel one happening at the same time – that of the love a parent has for a child and the love the child has, worried about whether the parent’s going to be OK when the child dies.”
Green believes the director brought that parallel love story to the fore much better than he did in the book. “As a parent, that’s what really got me while watching the movie – what it’s like for parents who have this obstacle to their love with this sick kid but they still hold onto it.”
Woodley knows what it’s like to hold onto something. She knew she was right for the part, but Boone wasn’t initially sure. “It wasn’t because she wasn’t good,” he says. “It’s just that she wasn’t 16 [the age of Hazel in the book].” But it was when Woodley read for one of the film’s most touching moments that Boone knew he had to call off the search and go with the actress who was the best suited for the role. The fans who’ll queue to see the movie upon its release will no doubt agree.
The Fault In Our Starsis in cinemas Thursday June 5.