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Cast Members Shailene Woodley, Nat Wolff, and Writer John Green sit down and chat about their new film The Fault In Our Stars & More!

Nat: Guys at the end (?) there, yeah

Panel Host: Everybody's Twitter handle is there as well and...

Nat: Oh wow, thank you

Panel Host: Alright so in here we have print online and (?) bloggers and we have, uh, twenty minutes. We're gonna start maybe with Cara

(?)

Cara: Um. Say Shailene I know (?) last night the script, at least the early draft of it, was written by the same guys who did Spectacular Now, and, um, obviously that's a great film and Miles is in it, which Miles is also in Divergent...

Shailene: Yes he is

Cara: Um, I kind of wanted to go around and say, why isn't Miles in this movie? Because he (?)

Shailene: He has a cameo! He actually he has a cameo, he walks by...

John: No he doesn't, no he doesn't

Shailene: Everybody would be searching for like.

John: Yep

Shailene: No he wasn't in this film because really, there wasn't a role for him

Cara: It was really a jerk question

John: There aren't that many...the Fault in Our Stars is such a small movie, like when I was...

Shailene: It's true there are not a lot of characters!

John: ...when I was watching Divergent I just, I kept being like so many people in this movie have lines! You know like

Nat: Yeah like how did they get this many people in?

John: There's like sixty people with lines, what we have like six people with lines!

Shailene: But the difference is there are sixty people like, in Divergent, but everyone only had one line.

John and Nat: Right right right!

Shailene: But here there are six people but everyone has a lot of lines!

John: Yeah

(?): You know how Scott and Michael were chosen to write the script?

John: I know a little bit about it, do you? (to Shailene and Nat)

Shailene: No

Nat: I don't

John: Um...

Shailene: They were chosen because they're the best

John: Yeah you know they were...Wyck and (?) who produces the movie were looking for people who were good at um, good at book to movie adaptations but who also...I, my main concern with regards to them, the main concern that I had expressed was not with preservation of the story but with preservation of the tone which I thought was going to be really difficult to do, I was worried the tone would get watered down, you know, and so they talked to a bunch of people, they sent me a bunch of scripts, we had a lot of conversations and then they finally said, you know, we met with Weber and Neustadter and they had an amazing take and we think that they are the right people even though they aren't...you know initially they sort of wanted a writer/director type of person

(?): Yep

John: And they said "you know, we really believe that they're right" and I was...and you know, "and they wrote '500 Days of Summer' and did you like that" and I was like "yeah I liked that" and they were like "well read this script for this movie, The Spectacular Now", and I read it and I was like "yes, those guys".

Shailene: So good

John: Yeah because I'd read the book, The Spectacular Now, and-

Shailene: It's very different!

John: Yeah it's very different, but they, they captured something that was really essential the, the...tonally.

Nat: Yep.

John: Which is much more interesting to me than capturing story. And um, yeah so I just...and they...

Nat: Much harder

John: Much, much harder. And then the first draft of the, of the script was like, finished, was like, perfect.

Nat: Yeah

Panel Host (?): Wow. Okay. 

(?): We're actually, if you have (?) An Imperial Affliction?

John: No I mean the only parts of An Imperial Affliction I ever wrote are the parts that appear in the book and then, um, the parts that appear in the movie. In the movie Hazel is reading An Imperial Affliction so I wrote...

Shailene: Three pages right?

John: Three or four pages

Nat: I have a copy of the fake Imperial Affliction

John: Me too, me too

Nat: And I have...it's just three pages that repeats itself

John: Yeah just four pages that repeats for seven hundred pages!

Nat: Yeah

John: Um...it's really meta!

John: Um...yeah, it's a beautiful, beautiful novel. A little repetitive toward the end...but it's a great book!

Nat: The whole thing is a little repetitive

John: *laughs* The first four pages are awesome!

Shailene: The first four pages are great

Nat: The first four pages are wonderful

John: Then it does just feel like it's kind of treading some of the same, like, territory

Shailene: By the end you really know what's going on You've got it down pat.

John: Yeah so I, I mean I wanted An Imperial Affliction to be an imaginary book because I think there's a perfection to books that don't exist that can't, can't happen for books that do exist. Um, and I really wanted, I liked that idea. I liked it thematically and then I also, also wanted, I also didn't feel like I could write it, you know.

(?): How do happen to (?) in books how teens talk to each other? You seem to have got that down really well?

John: Yeah I don't, mean I don't know anything about how they talk to each other. All of my friends are in their late thirties and we have kids and all we ever talk about is like, what pre-school our kids are going to go to. But I read a lot of-

Nat: Is that your next book?

John: Yeah, it's gonna be like 'Which Indianapolis pre-school makes the most sense for my two year old?'. That's gonna be, the stakes are gonna be so high! I like, I read a lot of comments, YouTube comments, Twitter posts, Tumblr posts, that are written by teenagers, obviously just in the course of my work, but the main thing for me is that, um, the emotional truths are there, that's all that really matters. I don't think kids care if you captured slang properly, I think generally actually when you try to 
capture slang properly it's an epic, epic failure. So yeah, I just try to write with emotional authenticity and trust that they'll forgive me whatever mistakes I make.

Shailene: I don't think you try, you do.

John: Aw thanks buddy. I don't know why I've been calling you buddy lately.

Shailene: Because I always call everybody buddy.

John: Ah nice, okay.

Shailene: Maybe that's why, because I'm like 'hey buddy!'

John: Right, good, good.

(?): In the book you use, one of my favorite artists, his name's (?)...

John: Yeah

(?): What made you want to use that (?) in Shailene's character?

Nat: What a hip question.

John: That is a cool question. So, um, that's a great question. I mean it's got kind of a boring answer but I'll give it to you anyway. I'm really interested in art, my wife is a curator of contemporary arts, so I just get a lot of it by osmosis, and in An Imperial Affliction, one of the very few things that we do know about it is that it's very concerned with identity and authenticity, and the relationship between like, the perceived self and the real self, which I think is interesting for people living with cancer, because a lot of times they're perceived one dimensionally. You know, they're perceived as kind of less than fully human, in some ways, because they're thought of as these mere tragedies, or people who you know, can't have sexual desire, or can't have full, rich love in their lives or whatever. And that distance between the thing as it actually is and the thing as it is portrayed is captured brilliantly in um, in that artwork, because it's a picture of a pipe, that says 'this is not a pipe' because it isn't a pipe. But of course when you look at the picture of the pipe, you think 'that is a pipe', because you're thinking that the representation of the thing is the thing. And a lot of times I think when we think about people living with serious illness, we think that the popular representations of them, which I think are often very one-dimensional, often very dehumanizing, are the thing. We confuse those representations of people living with disabilities with the reality that people living with disabilities experience, and so that is what I was trying to hint at. Sorry that was so boring.

Shailene: You're so smart. I mean you're so, that's so...

John: Well I spent ten years writing the book so you get bored, sometimes, and you do stuff like that.

Shailene: Yeah it's just amazing.

(?): More on the book, you have a really good balance on world-views, all of the characters have a different approach (?) that (?) I'm talking about, but how do you do it?

John: Um, yeah I mean I wanted all of them to have their own world-views and to still love each other. A lot of times we think these days that life is such an echo-chamber that you can't love somebody if you disagree with them about one thing, you've got to agree about everything to love each other, it's ridiculous.

Shailene: That's not right

John: Huh? Yeah, Shay can love me despite me drinking Diet Dr Pepper!

Shailene: And you can love me despite drinking...ten cups of coffee.

John: Um, so yeah, I mean I wanted, you know, Hazel...I wanted Hazel and Gus to really disagree about what the point of life is. And I love that...one of my favorite scenes in the movie is that scene where you, you and Gus are at Funky Bones and he's sad and you just get mad at him. And he's like, 'don't get mad', and you're like 'I am mad!' I love the way you say 'I am mad', that's one of my favorite moments in the movie because it's so frustrating, that like he won't see it from your perspective, but that doesn't mean you don't love him. And so yeah, that was just really important to me.

Nat: I think that's, and I think that scene is a really important message. I mean, not that a movie should be a message, you know, but I do think that that's a good message, that you don't live your life to be remembered, you live your life. You know?

John: Yeah.

Nat: And I think her response was really beautiful, in that scene.

Shailene: That's nice.

John: Ansel...it's interesting to hear Ansel talk about that too, I mean he's not here but I'll speak for him. Because he always talks about like, how, like, in this process he's learned that he doesn't...like last night when he was asked how he wants to be remembered? And he was like...

Shailene: Friends and family.

John: Friends and family. And that's cool to see. I don't know.

Shailene: It's changed for me too. Well I think it's not even necessarily to be remembered, but I think one of the things I loved so much about that message is I remember when I was in high school, I'll never forget when I was in high school and was like 'oh my god, I'm going to change the world, I'm going to stop deforestation, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna get everyone on the planet to recycle', and I was just, I was...because you exist with this small community of people, you know the world as you know it is related to a high school I went to with three thousand people. So there's three thousand people that I was like, this is gonna be easy to change. And then you get out of high school and you're like, 'wow there's a whole world, and there's millions of people who think just like me, and yet, you know, there's a whole world out there and there's so many different things, that no matter what you dedicate your life to there's still A, B, C, D, E, F, G. And I think that that is a complex that is just, that is natural, and like the coming-of-age process. Or thinking that you're the first one to ever think of an idea, or the first one to ever play a song a certain way. And um, and I think that like, learning at a younger age that it's not about like, playing that song, it's not about...it's about doing it...it's playing the song because it feels good for you. It's not playing the song in pursuit of impressing others. Which I think is so powerful.

Nat: Yeah that's why I feel so good about being part of this movie, especially because it's just, it's such a small story, that it's just about a couple of people, and it's so specific. And yet, last night we hear all these people chanting these characters' names and it's on such a big stage, and I think that's a really...it's really amazing because it's...you know we are involved in something that's going to reach a lot of people, and has the ability to...you know John really has changed people's lives and that's something that even hit me harder last night than it ever has, when this girl came on stage and she was crying, she had cancer, and she was crying about how much the book meant to her. And you know, we were all kind of giving her hugs, and then everybody in the whole auditorium started shouting her name, I was like 'this is beautiful', like this is just 'we are involved in something so much bigger than our careers and so much bigger than this movie, and so much bigger than-'

Shailene: Us.

Nat: Us. Yeah.

Shailene: You know what you've like, re-created that I think that I didn't, didn't have when I was a teenager, is a sense of community, and of acceptance, and of awareness, like, there's so much discussion on bullying-

Nat (over Shailene): (?) that's smart

Shailene: -and what you're doing, is the answer to all of those things that people complain about at that young age. Because you're creating acceptance, and allowance for weirdness, and for uniqueness, and for being different. And you're creating a community that supports each other in our own quests, and that is so beautiful John Green. 

John: Thank you Shailene.

(?): I got a question for-

Shailene: We're just going to talk to each other! 

(laughter)

Nat: Hey John, you wanna go get some food?

(more laughter)

(?): Johnny Depp once wrote that (?) performances you have you put a part of yourself into that performance, or as John Atkins (?). What part of yourselves have you put into your roles? And sub-question, what did you take from your own interpretations of the character you play and why?

John: If I can start that from Girl's Father's perspective?

Shailene: Yeah right. You can.

John: Um, I played the role of Girl's Father, it was cut from the movie. But um, it was really important, it was central-

Nat: When I was acting, when I was his acting coach I actually told him that Johnny Depp quote many times. 

John: My mind was 'Jackie I'm so sorry', and I just wasn't able to internalize, I wasn't able to connect to it, I wasn't able to. I was, I am also a father of a girl, and I was thinking 'I am also 'girl's father' in real life I am a girl's father, and yet I couldn't connect to that role. And that's why I got cut from the movie.

Shailene: No, it got cut because they wanted to save it. They wanted to improve DVD sales because they knew people would buy them if you were on the deleted scenes.

Nat: Yeah.

Shailene: Um. I think that I would even take it a step further and expand his quote to say I think all of you, all of me has to be in a role. I'm never, I'm never playing a character or I am (?). I'm fully Shailene, within the rules and restrictions of what Hazel's world creates, I'm fully Shailene within the rules and restrictions of who Tris is. And um, and yeah, the greatest thing that I ever received from a director was when I was working with Alexander Payne, he got to know us so well as human beings that he came up to me one day and he was like, 'you're not being you, be you, Shay'. And that was his note, because I began to act, and I was acting the character, versus just existing as a character, as myself through her eyes. And so I think that his quote is completely dead on.

Nat: I agree.

(?): What about you Nat?

Nat: Yeah and I think that, I mean Shay makes it sound so easy but you have to be like a master actress like Shay to be able to do that. I mean it's like you have to be so good to be able to be as simple and truthful and honest as Shay is. And that's something that John's saying (?), something that I learned a lot from working with you, is that um, we're just all so in love. 

Shailene and John: We are!

John: We're super fond of each other.

Nat: This is our last, this is like our last press conference together and our last day of...but I mean it really is that, that, you know, I do see your performances in every, they are different. I mean every single one is different. So you do submit yourself to the circumstances and so you are playing a character, but it's just coming from a truthful place, you know what I mean? Like, it's not like you're um, just showing up, you've incorporated the character into you, doing that it comes out. That at least is how it feels because every movie is so, is so, every role you play is so specific. But I mean for this character, for me, it was basically just I really connected to using humor to deal with, to deal with pain, which is something I've done my entire life. And I think I kind of came to the conclusion, 'cause a lot of times I thought that's a negative thing, I kind of came to the conclusion that I think it's a good thing. I think if you can, you can laugh about it, and meeting all these kids who really are going through these things, like I met this real blind guy, Ethan, who helped me out a lot, and he was super angry and super funny, you know? And so I thought, that's my way into the character, is that. John, what about Girl's Father? Tell us.

John: Like I said, I never got all the way there. 

Nat: Yeah yeah yeah. But I mean you know you were-

Shailene: You've faked it 'til you made it though.

John: Yeah, yeah, I know. That idea of submitting completely to the circumstances is something that I was not able to do because I was, 'boy there sure are a lot of cameras in this airport!'.

(laughter)

Shailene: And they're not just on the ceiling!
 
(laughter)

(?): Um, Shailene, in preparing for this role you chopped off your hair, in what looked very dramatic, in the video, um-

Shailene: I know it does look so dramatic.

John: It does!

Shailene: I was laughing when they did it, but it looks like I'm seriously crying.

John: Like sobbing.

Shailene: Like sobbing!

(?): And you ended up donating your hair, to like Locks of Love, and beyond that, what did everyone else do to prepare for their roles, and even in (?)

John: Especially Girl's Father.

(laughter)

Nat: Yeah Girl's Father.

Shailene: Um, I did donate it, I donated it not to Locks of Love to-

John: Children with Hair Loss is the name of the charity.

Shailene: Yeah, and we got lots of, thousands of-

John: Thousands of other people, yeah, there was a Hair For Hazel campaign, thousands of people donated and it was pretty cool.

Shailene: It was amazing. My mum did it.

John: Yeah that was so nice of your mum. 

Shailene: She was the one in the background of the video. They didn't know that was my mum, I should have said that was my mum. Anyways. Um, for me, preparing for the role was really, because the script was like so, was so truthful and so beautiful, I felt like there wasn't really a lot and the book, because it's told from Hazel's point of view, kind of did my homework for me, as far as who she was and what her mental, the way she looked at the world was looked like, the way she looked at the world and how that, how that seemed. Um, but physically I wanted to do - I met with some people who had similar things as Hazel as far as breathing through oxygen tubes and what-not, and it was mostly to, um, digest for myself how far we were gonna take it in the movie, because if I were to have authentically breathed the way that Hazel would have breathed according to the book's idea, it would be very long, just because she wouldn't be able to talk fast and have to take breaks constantly...

John: Yeah, lots of breaths between.

Shailene: Between everything, yeah, and sometimes when I see the movie, you know there's a few scenes where I get like riled up and angry, and in real life, if, if - she wouldn't be able to do that, to the extent that we could go in the movie, because she would have to take many breaks to catch her breath. But visually there's like sort of, always a compromise when you do make something into a cinematic experience. So that was something that I was really particular about, picking certain scenes to show that, so that it still came across, but not necessarily every scene, so that there was still something, um, special. And like the Anne Frank house, and she's going up the stairs, that really gets to people because you haven't seen her, her in that way before, which I thought was really important. And then you, I mean you talked about working with Ethan.

Nat: Yeah I guess, like, yeah I guess I sort of, I mean I uh, on-set I worked blinding contacts, for when I was supposed to be blind, totally blind, and when I was supposed to just have one eye I'd wear one blinding contact, which just took my balance off. Um, and uh that was actually easi- I thought it was going to be harder to act with the blinding contacts but I actually thought it was cool because, like I did the eulogy scene with the blinding contacts in and stuff, and it actually made me really, really free like I wasn't self-conscious at all because I couldn't see the camera or the crew or anything, so it wasn't, there wasn't that whole added element of like, you know shaking out the rest of the world. It was like I just really - 

Shailene: You should just act in blinding contacts-

Nat: All the time!

Shailene: Yeah all the time!

Nat: Yeah (laughs). This can be my new thing, play every character blind. 

Shailene: No you could play them not blind, but put them in so you can't see the camera.

John: (?)

Nat: Yeah they look pretty weird. (laughs) They look like you're blind. But, but um, not but I think we all, we all um, cared about the characters and wanted to do, do justice to them; not only to their illnesses but also just to the characters, just without their illnesses just to the characters. Like, we love, like, there was an interview a couple of days ago, where somebody said to John, you know 'how do you like writing characters with these kind of flaws?' and you said 'I don't find the illness flaws', and I said 'yeah I think the characters already have flaws, um you know just, regular teenage flaws'.

John: Yeah they have the flaws that people have, but the idea that like, illness or disability is a flaw is a really common trope in um, in pop culture stories about serious disability.

Nat: Because if you treat that as a flaw then the movie, then the movie's gonna be like 'oh the wise sick kids' who you know, sit in their beds and spout wisdom to the healthy kids and help them.

John: And the healthy kids learn important lessons about how to...

Nat: Right. Whereas in this movie its...

John: No healthy kids! 

Nat: ...it's actually even, it's funnier and it's even more painful that they're so real, you know, that they are angry and funny and dark and...

John: But that's why it was so important to me that there aren't any healthy kids in the movie. You know, it's not about them. There's even fewer in the movie than there are in the book, actually. So it's even less about them.

Nat: Yeah, yeah.

(?): You wrote this book, and you made it speaking as a teenager you wrote a book, and the big trend right now is to teen novels...

John: Yeah that's been around for a while though.

(?): And you didn't just write about the two teenagers who fell in love, you wrote about how they react with family members and stuff.

John: Yep.

(?): What was it like for all three adults, you know, having that difference?

John: Well I mean I mean I wanted this to be a family story as well as a love story, um, I wanted it to be about all kinds of love not just romantic love. And the love between Hazel and her parents is extremely important in the book and I think also in the movie. There's also the, the kind of off-screen love story between Hazel's parents. You know, these two, these two people who um, are going through a very difficult time in their marriage but are, are surviving it because of their love for each other. And that was really important to me, and I never really wrote about adults before because I was always bored by them and I was always trying to get them out of the scene as quickly as possible, like 'let's get these kids on a road trip!' or 'let's get these kids to boarding school!' or whatever. Um, but I became a parent, um, in 2010, and I think that chang- I think I got really interested in being a parent. Um, and I also couldn't finish the book until I, until I understood...I couldn't finish the book hopefully until I understood that as long as either Hazel or um, or her mother is alive that relationship will endure. There's that wonderful moment at the end of the movie where, where Hazel's mum says to Hazel 'Even when you die I will always be your mother'.

Nat: Yeah. That gets me.

John: And that's a very important idea because love is ac-, literally stronger than death in that sense, and that, that was very important to me and that's not something I ever understood until I had a child.

(?): Did you have problems getting permission to film there, or...(?) was that (?).

John: We were the first movie ever to film there.

(?): Oh, wow.

John: They liked, they liked the, the novel. (laughter) So. Yeah

(?): (?) the story of one person (?)

John: Yeah I mean I think it's, it's two people whose lives are, are circumscribed. You know, Hazel by her, her disability and obviously by war and whose lives are likely to be shorter or at least in Hazel's case definitely more shorter than they should have been in Anne's case. But I also I wanted it to be, I wanted Hazel and Gus to reclaim that space for life, you know, Anne Frank made out in the Anne Frank house, why can't, why can't Hazel? Um, you know that like, that like while you...while you are here um, you are fully alive and uh, I thought the way they did the voice-over in the movie and the, the whole, that whole scene is just, oh man, what a kiss.

Shailene: What a kiss!

John: I watched it like, twenty-five times...

Shailene: In a non-creepy way.

John: No, no no, no in like, while y'all were filming.

Shailene: Oh yeah yeah yeah.

John: And every time and Wyck, like the producer and the director would be like, 'I think, I think they need to be a little more' and I was like 'that was awesome!' Every time they were like 'oh I think we have, I don't know, maybe like a little more chaste' and I was like 'yeah, keep doing it! Yeah! Make 'em do it fifty times!'

Shailene: (laughs)

John: It was just so, it made me cry so much because it's just-

Shailene: I love that the girl kisses the guy.

John: I know!

Shailene: I love it.

John: I know! And, and I love that, I love the, I love her strength in that scene, I love that she's physically weak but that she's still fully herself. I love that even, even when her physical di-, limitations are really really pulling at her, she is still, like, you still make her fully human-

Nat: Yeah (?)

John: -wanting all the things that any other human wants. And it's so, I l-, I, I was so proud of that scene, like I honestly like that scene better in the movie than in the book and I, you know, I wrote the book.

Shailene: I love that scene in the book.

John: Oh well let's just keep complimenting each other.

(laughter)