Interviewing 'The Fault in Our Stars' Author John Green on Movie Magic

3 years ago

A lot of excitement is surrounding the upcoming release of the film adaptation of the extremely popular young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars. After interviewing him, I'm confident that the person most eager for the film’s release on June 6th has to be the book's author, John Green. This is the first of his books to hit the big screen (though many of his novels nearly made it) and definitely his most personal. It’s a film that deals with first love, illness, grief and coming of age, and the anticipation for the movie has been through the roof. Since the official trailer was released by Twentieth Century Fox a  few short months ago, it has received over 18 million views.

Image via Twentieth Century Fox

I was recently part of a group of culture bloggers who asked him a few questions, and here’s what we found out about his involvement with the making of the film, his hesitation with having it made and how happy he is with how it turned out. 

Did you see the book as a film when you were writing it?

John Green: I did not see it as a film.  I couldn't imagine a world in which this movie would get made.  I never—it's not something I think about when I write, really, to be honest with you.  I mean, they never made a movie out of any of my other books, so I certainly didn't think they've make a movie out of this one. 

You were nervous to give the rights to the film because The Fault in Our Stars was just so personal to you.  What was your biggest fear in doing so?

JG:  Well, I think it's really hard to make a movie that's serious or about serious topics without sentimentalizing it.  And so, I guess my fear was that it would become a sentimental story, which is what I most didn't want.  I was trying really hard to write as unsentimental and straightforward a story as I could.  I was also worried that the characters would be defined by their disability, instead of having disability be part of their lives but not the defining feature of their lives.

Image via Twentieth Century Fox

What ultimately changed your mind? 

JG:  Well, I didn't have a lot of fun in some of my previous movie experiences.  And there is something really magical about a book that doesn't become a movie. 

There's something magical about the fact the Holden Caulfield is always going to belong to us, that we're never going to—you know, for the rest of my life, when I close my eyes and think about Harry Potter, I'm going to see Daniel Radcliffe just because the power of the image is such that overwhelms text, you know? 

Image via Twentieth Century Fox

Where there any passages that you were adamant about staying in for the movie?

JG:  No.  I was so lucky.  Mike Weber and Scott Neustadter, who wrote the script, have such a deep love for the book.  They were really passionate about it.  They wanted to preserve not just the tone and themes of the book but as much of the actual words of the book as possible, and I think they did an amazing job. They saw what people were responding to, making art about, and it was important to them to keep it in.

Was there anything in the book, like a character or a scene that the film adaptation made you see in a different light? 

JG: It helped me to think differently and I guess more broadly about Gus, the challenges that he's been through before the story begins, how that's given him confidence but how also that confidence is real and it's earned because he has integrated this disability into his life.  But, it's also a way of protecting himself.  It's also a way of protecting himself against the things that are harder for him now, or the way that his life has been changed, physically and emotionally by his disability. 

Did you envision anyone playing these roles when you were writing the book at all?

JG: Almost immediately, even when she was auditioning, Shailene became Hazel for me.  Hazel just looked like Shailene and talked like Shailene talks as Hazel.  In terms of casting, I had a voice.  You know, I'm not a casting director.  I didn't direct the movie, so it wasn't my decision, certainly.

And so, seeing the movie, I thought very differently about Augustus and about Hazel's parents, and even about Van Houten.  Each of those actors brings to their performance a realness, a sense that they are the center of their own story, just as anyone is. 

What was your role during the filming and did you visit the set?

JG : I was there for almost every day.  I would say at least 80% of the time.  I usually went home on Thursday night so that I could spend a few days with my family. 

I didn't have a role.  But, I think it's nice to have somebody on a movie set who's not doing anything, because everyone else is so busy and they're working so hard and they're talking about, "Did we get this coverage or that coverage," and, "Did we get it this way?  Did we get it that way?  Did the light change?"  And I could just be like, "Hey, everybody, hold on for a second.  This is awesome.  Let’s take a step back and realize how ridiculously awesome this is." 

What I found is that, when people come in and they're passionate and they really care about the story, it can add to it.  It can bring new things to it.  So, every day it just felt wonderful on the set.  It really did.  I mean, I just felt like I was being given such a tremendous gift just to be able to be there and watch them make this movie, make it so carefully and thoughtfully.      

Image via Twentieth Century Fox

 The author's enthusiasm for the upcoming film was infectious, and I'm counting down the days until its release on June 6th. 

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