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The Fault In Our Stars Interview - John Green (2014) - Shailene Woodley Drama HD

Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.
John: I started writing The Fault in Our Starsin 2000, when I was working as a student chaplain at a children's hospital, I worked there for about seven months and I really wanted to write a story, a love story, about sick kids who were, as I knew them, funny and full of life and great fun to be around, but I had a lot of trouble getting into the story, and so it actually took seven or eight years before I really started to make any progress, and a lot of the reason I was eventually able to write the book was because of my friendship with a young woman named Esther Earl, to whom the book is dedicated.  Esther died of cancer when she was 16 in 2010, but our friendship and her--the joy that she had in her life were huge inspirations for the book. 

I always knew I wanted The Fault in Our Stars to be a love story, but it wasn't clear to me for a long time what kind of love story it would be.  The typical sick kid love story narrative is about one sick and one healthy kid and then the healthy kid learns important lessons about how to be grateful for every day from the sick kid, and that's the reason that the sick kid exists.  I didn't wanna tell that story, and so finally, after many years of looking for them, I found Hazel and Augustus, these two kids with very different ideas about what constitutes a very--what constitutes a well-lived life with very different worldviews in lots of different ways, but who are brought together by their love for each other and their love for a book. 

Hazel's a pretty sarcastic person and she definitely has a kind of gallows sense of humor that I borrowed a lot from the friends I've had who've had cancer or other serious illnesses, but she's also very loving and deeply, deeply concerned about the effect that her illness has on the people around her, particularly her parents, and she--she doesn't wanna be what she calls a grenade, you know, she doesn't wanna be someone whose death causes pain in the world.  She doesn't wanna cause pain in the world, and she's very hyper-conscious of that.

There's a nice line in a Philip Roth novel where a woman says, "The pleasure isn't in owning the person, the pleasure is having another contender in the room with you," and I think Hazel is the kind of person who doesn't have a lot of contenders in the room with her, and when she meets Gus, she realizes, Oh, well this, this guy can hang with me, this guy can, you know, can talk as fast as I can and he knows a lot of the words that I know and I've got a contender in the room here, and I think for Gus, it's very much the same thing.  He's used to being able to get girls, but he's not used to being able to--he's never encountered a girl like Hazel before. 

When she was cast, Shailene Woodley sent me an email that was like, 30 pages long about how much she loved The Fault in Our Stars and how she had to play Hazel, and it was an amazingly passionate e-mail and so, when things started to happen and it seemed like, wow, they really might make this movie, you know, everyone was talking about Shai and I was all for it, we saw lots--I saw lots and lots of audition tapes before Shai had the chance to audition, but when I saw her audition, it was immediately clear to me that no one else could be Hazel.  I saw the tape and called Wyck and called Josh and said, "What can I do to help?  I have her e-mail address.  Can you give me her phone number?  I'd like to call her.  Can I fly to LA?  What do I need to do to make sure she's in this movie?" 

I've been very lucky to be on set for most of the shooting of the movie, and every single day, there has been a moment where, at least one moment, where I just marveled at how strange and wonderful it is to have something that I imagined years ago suddenly become visible and rich and alive.  It's so strange, and it does feel in some ways magical.  It feels like movie magic a little bit. 

The Fault in Our Stars is a love story and it's a funny love story and it's a fun love story and it's a story about how to have a rich and good and full life, and I'm really excited to share that story with people.