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John Green, Josh Boone, Shailene Woodley, Nat Wolff, Ansel Elgort, Sam Trammell and Laura Dern interview about The Fault in Our Stars.

Host: Uh, we've got some special guests, here they are, the cast, the writer, the director.  Here he is, the author first, Mr. John Green! {cheers as John walks onstage, shakes host's hand.}  Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort! {cheers}  Laura Dern! The one and only, Nat Wolff! {cheers} Sam Trammell!  And director, Josh Boone, come on out, guys. All right guys, have a seat, make yourself comfortable.  {applause continues as they all sit.}
John, what- {screaming} what's the best tactic to keep them semi-quiet for the conversation?  I don't even know.

John: Ah, yes, so we can't, we can't talk unless y'all are a little quiet.  So, I know, I, I know that it's hard, because I also wanna scream right now because I'm sitting next to Shailene Woodley. {cheers}

Shailene: And I am screaming inside because of sitting between you and Ansel. {cheers}

John: But uh, yeah, so let it- so be-  You have to,  you have to resist, you  have to resist the urge so that we can, uh, have a conversation and talk to you about, uhh, the movie!

Host: The good news is, were gonna get right to a lot of your questions, in a little bit, so uh, get 'em ready and uh, we wanna hear from you guys as well.  And also the good news is we have virtually the entire cast here, and the director, so I feel like we can just, reenact the film right here, maybe.  Should we just get started?

{all nod}

Shai: There's a good scene in the airport we can reenact.  Um...

Laura: Starring John Green!

Host: Oh, should we start on that sad note?  Because it's a great movie.  But it lacks a certain superstar...

Shai: But I bet the DVD will...

John: Yeah, I mean, first off, I was in the movie, my scene was cut, everyone's gotten a lot of- everyone's gotten a lot of mileage out of this.  But the reason my scene was cut was not because I am not a great actor, which I am.  I was, I was tutored, I had one line, "I'm so sorry," and I was tutored in my line by the great Nat Wolff, who's a genius. {cheers}

Nat: Hey, you know you can work with someone as, as, you know, as long as you want but sometimes things just don't click.

John: *laughs* Ah, but no, it just didn't work, it didn't work in the movie.  I, I- There's no question that Boone made the right decision to cut it, um, but you can see it on the Night Before Our Stars Thursday, June 5th.  And you'll all- it'll be on the extended cut.

Shai: Are you serious?

John: Yeah, yeah they're gonna show it...

Shai: Oh my God!

John: In Atlanta.

Shai: This is so exciting!

John: Have you seen it yet?

Shai: No.

John: Oh, we are great, you- mostly you, but I'm still pretty good.

Shai: It was a kind of interesting scene, 'cause I had to put a cannula in my nose that a little girl had in her nose and so we were sharing snot all day.  Which is a little bit weird, but...

Host: That's why you got into the business, basically, right?

Shai: *laughs*

Josh: But I remember, John, I remember you were in character.  Like there were some takes where you were kind of disgusted by it and then there were other takes where you were like, it was okay.

John: Well, I wanted to, I, I- one of the things that I learned from-

Nat: Daniel Day John Green. {laughing}

John: One of the things I learned from our extraordinary cast is that you have to give a nuanced performance, and you wanna offer something different in each take.  Um, so I made sure to try to give you everything that you needed to work with when you got to the editing room.

Josh: You gave me a lot.

Host: I hope it's okay that-

Ansel: Are we still talking about that?

Host: I was gonna say, we're gonna spend the next forty minutes on this.  {everybody laughing}

Nat: Yeah, we're actually in scenes that are in the movie. {laughing}

Ansel: Yeah, let's get to us. Come on, guys.

Host: Wow, such bitterness.  Um, *laughs* let's talk, okay.  This amazing cast that you guys have assembled, uh, Josh, what were you looking for, when you were looking for your, uh, your winning characters?  What were you looking for when you were starting to audition people for this film?

Josh: I was looking for actors who could speak John's language and bring it to life.  And it's like, you know, the first time Shai came in to audition was the first time I'd ever heard anybody say Hazel's lines and I believed they were Hazel. It was the first time, so her audition was pretty devastating, we cried like, a lot.

Host: What do you guys, uh- Shailene, what do you remember about that audition? Did you feel like you, you knew this character when you were, when you were in that audition room?

Shai: I did, I felt like I knew her the second I read- I read the script for the book two years ago and then I read the book immediately after and sort of the way that she, the way that she spoke and the way that she and Augustus interacted with each other, and the sarcasm between her and her mother.  Or not the sarcasm, but the sort of wit, between... you know, when her mom's like, "What did he give to you?" and she's like, "Oh, he gave this to me."  I don't wanna give anything too much away, but, it's just the, the nature in which Hazel spoke, I really responded to, and felt like I spoke like that.

Host: You, uh, you get to work with this guy, I don't know if you guys have seen Ansel Elgort before, have you ever seen... {screaming}

Ansel: *smiles*

John: Boo. {laughing}

Host: Um, Ansel, when you got this role, was that the biggest moment thus far in your career, when you get the call that, like, "I'm gonna get to be Augustus Waters," in a film like this?  You better say yes, by the way.

Ansel: I mean, I was just pretty, I was pretty, like, scared and a lot of pressure. To be honest, I was like, "I, I don't... I hope I do a good job." You know? It was like, a big role to take on, a big responsibility because of... I mean, look.  Look at all these people here, you know? Like... people really care about this guy, people care about this story so I, I just didn't want to mess it up, really.

John: You didn't, good news.

Ansel: Thanks.

Host: John when uh, when it, it first came up about potentially adapting this into a film, was that excitement, dread?  What was the first feelings about potentially seeing this translate for the big screen?

John: Well, I mean, I didn't wanna make it into a movie initially, and I didn't want to sell the rights, really, but when I met with the producers, the people who became the producers, you know, the first things they said to me, they had like three minutes with me before I went on stage with my brother Hank at this middle school auditorium in Los Angeles... {cheers}  I hope you guys are screaming for middle school, 'cause it is awesome. Just kidding, it's rough.  Um, it gets better.

But uh... we um, he, they- this is what they said to me.  They said, "We're gonna make a movie where the female romantic lead has a cannula in her nose for the entire movie.  Where disability is a part of her life but she's not gonna be defined by her disability. And, uh, we're gonna make, we're gonna make a movie that's not just about romantic love but that's about love within families and that honors your story, and we're not gonna just stay true to the... the plot but we're gonna stay true to the tone and the feeling of the, of the story and you have to believe that we can do it because we are confident that we can do it."  And I trusted them, and they kept every promise to me, I mean, they kept every single one of those promises and I, I think that's why the movie is so extraordinary. {cheers}

Host: So, for Laura and Sam, I mean, in the, in the "bad version" of a movie like this, you guys, I mean everyone here could play clichés of these characters, and part of the beauty of this film is that it feels so truthful, and that's thanks, obviously, to the direction and John's words.  But, can you give me a sense of, sort of, like, how, how did you keep on track on set to make sure it was, it was feeling true, it was feeling authentic as opposed to feeling like falling into a movie-of-the-week kind of cliché?

Sam: Um, well, we, we spent a lot of time, uh, together off set...uh, you know, just hanging out, getting to know each other, um, having dinners all the time, basically, in Pittsburgh.  Um, but also, there was, it was- I mean, it was, we had real, uh... you know, you know, people, kids with, that had cancer, and you know?  And so we wanted, we wanted that to, you know, infuse it with, give it a weight and reality.  So that, it was always very uh, very palatable and real. Um, and you know we, we had some little notes we passed back and forth, you know, keeping our relationship fresh and pretending to be married and... you know.  That kind of thing.

Laura: And I think, as Shailene said, you know, you feel you... um, can hopefully pay tribute to John's language because you feel you speak it, and Sam and I as actors felt like we'd never played parents, or even grown-ups that much before... So Josh, I think, made, uh, an astute choice to match rather irreverent actors all the way across the board who hopefully understood John's tone in the, in the humor amidst all the, uh, the crisis that unfolds.  So, that was really fun for all of us, to be a family together in that.

John: One thing I didn't know until I watched the movie was I, I- I didn't know as much- 'cause I saw, when I was writing the book, I saw it all through Hazel's eyes and Josh had to see it through everyone's eyes, and each of these people had to see it through their eyes.  And one thing I didn't know at the time was that the love story between Hazel's parents is a really powerful story.  Like, they have this tremendous obstacle in their marriage and their love that, that no one could expect when you make a promise to each other to be married, and the way that they kind of stick together in that, in the movie is very powerful for me.  Like, as a parent myself it was just really wonderful to see, I thought they did an amazing job.

Host: I wanna bring in-

Laura: Thanks, John.

Host: *laughs*  Mr. Nat Wolff, hi Nat, how are you, sir? {cheers} Uh, Isaac, the role of Isaac, it's a, it's a curious character because, like, you don't think of a guy that's losing his vision, his eyes, to cancer, as being essentially the comic relief, the guy that can bring some levity to a film, but you, but you function as that, among other things in the film. Is that, is that a unique challenge for you, when you're taking on a role like that?

Nat: Yeah, when I first took on the role I thought it was gonna be um, easier, you know, than it was, but it was basically about making sure that, that Isaac wasn't a joke, you know, that he was just a funny person.  Um, more than, you know, that it wasn't, like, people making fun of him for being blind, you know, that he was going to be the uh, before anyone else could make fun of him, he was going to make fun of somebody else.  Uh, and then it was just, so it was basically balancing that, yeah, he did have to be the levity of the situations and then at the same time, like, yeah, he's going blind and he's getting dumped, which are upsetting things and I think I did a really good job.  So.  Yeah.  Yeah.  

(everyone laughs)

Keepin' it humble, always.

Shailene: I agree.

John: You really did, though, and I wanna, I dislike you as a person so much, I wanna criticize your performance but you really were fantastic. I'm just kidding, I don't, obviously, I hope it's clear that that was a joke. Nat's my, Nat's like my second or third favorite person in the cast.

Laura: Which part? 

Nat: Which part was the joke, yeah?

Laura: The person or his performance?

Host: D'you wanna seat the people according to how much you love them?

John: No I did. I did, I did. Sorry Sam.

Sam: Yes, you did.

John: Particularly sorry to you, Josh.

John: Yes, you did. You never liked me. I actually did it my direction.

Host: We have some clips from the movie we want to share with you guys.

(fades out & back)

Host: the chemistry for you (?-10:51), I mean, you've been, you've acted all your life, literally all your life, since you were a teenage actor. And working with someone like Shailene who's also been acting virtually her entire life, and these young performers, I'm wondering do you see something, do you feel a kindred kinda spirit when you see young performers working at the top of their game, and what's special about working with folks like this at such a young age.

Laura: It's amazing. These folks, it's particularly amazing cause they're all, beyond the fact that they're all just incredible actors and deeply honest, which is so beautiful, they're pretty much the coolest people any of us would ever want to know. Which is why we had dinner every single night together. Cause we love each other and this is just a really beautiful group of big-hearted people. So that's particularly amazing. And you know, to watch a group of young actors have the level of respect for an author that everyone in this room would wish them to have toward John Green was particularly awesome to watch, and a great tribute to John and the story. So that was really really awesome.

Host: The uh, that scene, I'm not sure if that was shot in Amsterdam, but obviously the exterior scenes and Anne Frank house were shot in Amsterdam. Give me a sense- that came probably later in the shoot I think for you guys.

John: It was at the end, yeah.

Host: So that must have been... refreshing, and also... daunting cause those were some of the most key important pivotal scenes in that relationship. Was that something you were looking forward to, what do you remember of that shooting of particular- the Amsterdam portion?

Shailene: It was actually nice that it sort of took place I think at the end of filming because we had such a great idea of our relationship and the way that, and the scenes were so present in our minds that we had already filmed, and so we could go... it was sort of filmed in sequence in the sense that up until Amsterdam, we knew what happened. And then in Amsterdam we were really able to call upon the memories as if they were real memories versus just fabricated ideas formed after what assumed they would do in a scene in the future, which was really lovely. And it was so beautiful. Amsterdam's so romantic. And we were there and it wasn't sunny, it was cold and it was sort of dark and foggy and rainy but that added such a romantic element to it that I think added to the story in an even more profound way than had it been extremely sunny with Toy Story clouds, and you know, tulips everywhere.

Host: Obviously the scenes at the Anne Frank House in particular I think are among the many scenes the audience is probably very excited to see. And so what do you remember about shooting literally in the Anne Frank House? Is that something that you remember fondly.(~13:30)

Ansel: Well, we shot the downstairs in one of the first rooms in the Anne Frank House, but we couldn't actually shoot most of the scenes in the Anne Frank House. It's quite narrow, so we shot, you know, in Pittsburgh in a studio.

Host: Ruining the illusion! Movie magic!

Ansel: No, no, it's even more amazing there. It is, because it looks so real. I feel like I've been, you know, every little tiny crack, you know, in the wall was correct.

Nat: I didn't know this. I'm pissed.

Josh: Yeah, when Ben Richardson and I went the first thing we did when we got to Amsterdam was we went through the Anne Frank House and we both were looking at each other the whole time like deja vu because it was so exact.

John: They rebuilt it from the plans inch by inch. I mean, Molly Hughes, the production designer for the movie did an amazing amazing job. Like, you didn't know.

Host: And I've seen it twice. I'm confused

John: No, I can't tell what was shot in Amsterdam and what wasn't, and I was there.

Host: Another clip I want to show you guys. Ansel, Shailene and Matt are in this one. This is a really fun sequence.

Josh: I do want to say that that scene is about two minutes longer in the movie. It's been heavily truncated, so, it's much longer in the movie. Just so you know.

Host: Matt, was that your first time egging a house or a car. 

Matt: Yeah, that was my first time egging a house, but I never saw it, because I was blind doing it, so I never saw it. It's good to see it. Yeah. Looks good.

Host: I want to get to your questions as soon as possible, so let's go right to the third clip we have. Then we'll go right back to the audience for your amazing questions. This is Shailene and Sam.

Host: Alright guys, do you have some questions for this amazing cast, writer, director.

Audience Member: Hi guys. This is so unreal. By the way, you were amazing in Hairspray because I saw it my freshman year. I've been to all the events in the city and I read the book the first week it came out, it was absolutely amazing. And I can honestly say it changed my life and it changed my whole outlook and mentality too. I just wanted to thank you so much for that. My question for you, as your inspiration for this book, your readers all know there are many iconic quotes or metaphors, if you will, like "Pain demands to be felt." Were any of these metaphors a direct quote from Esther?

John: So for those of who didn't hear my friend Esther, to whom the book is dedicated and who died of cancer when she was 16 in 2010, inspired a lot of the book, although I want to be clear that Hazel is not Esther. Whether anything directly from Esther's life or anything she said worked its way directly into the book, no. Not directly. No quotes or anything or anything that she told me. I always felt like the conversations we had were private and I didn't want to share them.

John: But there's no question that, you know, what did work its way in is Esther's empathy. Her ability to turn outward. One of the things that I loved the most about Shailene's performance you actually see in that moment when she says "He doesn't need this." She's able to imagine what it's like for her family, what it's like for Gus. She's able to see maybe in a way that he even can't, you know, how hard it would be and she's trying to be kind to him. And I do think that that's something that was very much part of Esther's life.  

?: Thank you.  Oh, and also, we graduate this Sunday from high school, so if you can give a shoutout to the Class of 2014.

John: Congratulations!

Shailene: Yeah, congratulations!  Very exciting.

?: Uhh, hi.  I wanted to know if you guys could play any other character in the movie, who would you play?

Shailene: In this film?  Any other character in this film?

?: Yeah.

Shailene: Who would we play? 

Ansel: Maybe like, Van Houten.  He's a little older.

John: You wouldn't--Yeah, I was gonna say, you wouldn't have been a very good Van Houten.

Ansel: Not now, yeah. 

Laura: I'd wanna play John Green's role in the airport.

John: Girl's father.

Laura: Yeah, Girl's father.

Nat: This is exactly what I was gonna say.  Yeah, haha.

Shailene: Yeah, I think Van Houten would be an interesting role.  If Sisyphus the Hamster had a role in the movie, I'd choose that one. 

Sam: Michael Birbiglia. 

John: Oh, Patrick.

Sam: Patrick.

John: Yeah, the support--

Sam: Patrick, a little guitar playin', you know.

Shailene: Yeah!

John: You would have been a--you would have actually been a really good Patrick.

Sam: I would have been all right in that.

John: You could have done both, you know, we'd just put you in different glasses, no one would have known.

Sam: Right.

John: I would have liked to be Hazel's dad.  I mean, I'm not a good enough actor, but like, Hazel's dad is the character I most connect to myself, so I would go there.

?: Was there any point where, after getting to know these characters and John's words, was there room for improvisation or did you talk about the direction you wanted a scene to go or was that just your interpretation that you, you know, you showed in your performance?

Josh: I mean, there's definitely moments of improvisation in the movie.  I mean, in both my movies, Nat, some of, I think, the funniest stuff is Nat Wolff improvising.  So I mean, it was still very much on-book, but I mean, there was room.  I mean, there was freedom.  One of John's favorite moments in the movie is an improvised moment, right, the--?

John: Yeah, one of my very favorite moments in the movie is in that scene, the egg throwing scene that you watch, part of it that isn't in that, that you didn't see, is Gus says to Isaac, well, Gus says, "It's all dark to Isaac" and then Isaac is like, in the middle of throwing the egg and he stops and he turns toward Gus and says, "I'm blind, not deaf, and I don't love it when you make fun of my disability," and it's like, a great moment, because Isaac is refusing to be the butt of the joke, he's saying, like, I'm--you're not--and, in addition to not being the butt of the joke, I would like to tell you a joke that is funnier than your joke.  Like, I will now show you that I am funnier than you, and I love that moment, and that was improvised, but I think, like, you know, they spent so much time together, they were so close, there was so much--it's cheesy to say, but it's true, like, there was so much love that went into this movie, there was so much care for each other when making it that--and you see that.  You see that they were collaborating very closely, both like, you know, at dinner the night before, or whenever.

?: I'm 13, and I just--I've been a Nerdfighter since I was, like, 8.

John: Aw, thanks, man!

?: And um, my question is for Nat.  What happened after the Naked Brothers Band? 

Nat: I still do play music with my brother, and we have some new music coming out in three days under the moniker Nat and Alex Wolff, creative band name. 

Ansel: Cities have gone for you.

Nat: Yeah, it sounds just like that, and then I've got, you know, I'm so lucky to get to work with unbelievably talented people like this, so. 

John: No, but I think--are you gonna do the Naked Brothers Band again?

Nat: No, probably not.

Shailene: It's gonna be the Clothed Brothers Band now. 

Ansel: And nowhere near as good.

?: When did you know that you'd be such a huge success as an author?

John: Um, I--I--I--hm.  Uh, it happened the way that you fall asleep.  Slowly then all at once.  I--I mean, I had a lo--I was able to get my books to readers and have a wonderful readership almost from the time that Looking for Alaska was first published, I mean, within a couple years of it coming out, thank you, I had a, you know, I had readers and I really liked them and I loved hearing from them and I felt very close to them, and that was magical, but i could never have imagined that, you know, that so many, that millions and millions of people would one day read that book and my other books, and it really--I guess, like, a month in, maybe, to Fault in Our Stars, I was like, this is weird and it seems to keep happening and now it's been like, two and a half years and it's still happening and I, I mean, I suppose it will end at some point, but yeah, I don't know, it's weird.  Thank you.

?: You've constantly said that the reason to write a book is to give a gift to your readers.  How do you balance that with not giving into this commercial desire of "what the teenagers want"? 

John: Oh, I don't really care what the teenagers want, to be honest with you.  Like, I don't--I just don't care about what the market says that I'm supposed to do or what, you know, like, I like telling stories and it's exactly as you said, like, it has to be a gift, and if you think too much about, like, oh, books are supposed to have this or books are supposed to have that, you stop thinking about the reader, and you start thinking about the idea of a reader, you know, or the idea of a readership, like, insofar as possible, I wanna think about you.  I wanna think about, and I'm blessed that I can know you, kind of, through Twitter and Tumblr and YouTube comments, I can kind of know about you, and so I can just hopefully I can base it on you, and try to make something for you, instead of trying to make something that's like, for an abstracted idea of you.

?: Um, so, Charlie McDonnell recently made a video about the importance of understanding your audience and--

John: Yeah.

?: --my question for you, John, is how do you--I don't wanna say cope, but, what do you think about the community now that your fanbase is so much bigger?

John: That's a great question, and I love that video by Charlie.  It talked about how you have to--this is charlieissocoollike for those of you who don't know him, he's amazing, and this video by Charlie talked about how you have to--it's really difficult to imagine a big group of people complexly, like, there are a lot of people here, and I can't speak for y'all, but like, I am kind of freaking out, and like, I bet a lot of you are kinda freaking out, 'cause this is weird and exciting and cool, and it's really hard in that moment to think about people complexly and not to make assumptions about them or to presume that you know something about them.  As the, you know, as things grow right now, like, this is exciting and I'm just doing my best to try to imagine you complexly, but I also know that like, I'm, you know, I hope that you're around in a couple years, you know, like, that's what's really cool is to think about--I know a lot of those--a lot of people are going to love the movie, I think everybody's gonna love the movie, and then they're gonna, you know, go and get into other stuff, which is great.  But there will be a few people who still wanna make projects with us and still wanna do stuff with us, and that's really cool to me. 

?: This question is for Ansel, and I was wondering if you think that living in New York could have affected your career choices or if you would have lived somewhere else, that you would have still wanted to be an actor?

Ansel: Yeah, I mean, living in New York--it's an amazing place to live, and I'm so grateful that I did grow up here, because you know, I'd go to Broadway shows all the time, and I'd go to the theater when I was a kid, I, you know, went to the ballet and that's, I don't know if some of you guys know that's how I started, in ballet, so it's like coming from a small town, I think, it's more challenging, and a lot of people do and that's amazing to me because, you know, then you really--I don't know how you just discover something like this, but I was lucky being from New York, and also just in New York, there's like, especially when you're an actor, there's so much going on here, like, you know, one of my favorite things to do is play street ball, and like, you can just like, do things like that in New York and like, a lot of different things and it makes you who you are, I think it makes being a New Yorker, makes you an interesting person.  So that helps. 

Shailene: What is street ball?

Ansel: Basketball.  In the street.

Shailene: Okay.  It's a fancy way of saying it, street ball.

Ansel: Well, I mean, yeah.  It is. 

?: Um, I have a question for Ansel.  Um, what's your Broadway dream role?  I'm right here. 

Ansel: Oh, hey.  My Broadway dream role? 

?: Yes.

Ansel: I wanna play (?~26:06) in Les Mis when I'm older.

Shailene: My name is (?~26:11). 

John: Do it, do it, give me more.  What's your Broadway dream role?

Ansel: Yeah, how about Shailene?

Shailene: My dream role?  I don't know, I always thought it would be cool to be Elphaba in Wicked? 

Josh: They're both gonna have offers tomorrow.

Shailene: 'Cause she gets to be green.

John: Yeah, anyone else have a Broadway dream role?  Sam?  Do you have a Broadway dream role?

Sam: Uh, God, you know, it used to be Romeo, but that's--

John: That ship has sailed, my friend.

Sam: Can't do that anymore.  God, I don't know, I'll think about it. 

Ansel: I'd like to be on Avenue Q.

Shailene: There's so many good Broadway dream roles.

Ansel: I'd like to be on Avenue Q.  That's a funny show.

?: Shailene, I love your hair.

Shailene: Oh, thanks. 

John: Your hair is so awesome these days. 

Shailene: Thank you.

?: Let's end by hearing it for Shailene's hair.  Amazing.  Yes. 

Nat: Shailene's hair.  Shailene's hair.  Shailene's hair.  Shailene's hair. 

?: That's how all podcast at the Apple Store end.

John: Thank you, guys.

?: Guys, The Fault in Our Stars opens this Friday, I know you'll check it out.  Thanks so much for sharing your Sunday (?~27:10)

John: Thank you, guys.

?: Thank you everybody.