OKAY, so if you follow me on the Twitter (you should because then we can talk ALWAYS) you know I got the opportunity to be a part of a phone interview with about 8-10 other bloggers from around the interwebs and JOHN GREEN about The Fault In Our Stars movie. I love his books, FINALLY just read The Fault In Our Stars, enjoy his videos and I thought he was super nice the time I got to meet him 2 years ago! SO I WAS A WEE BIT EXCITED. It was an opportunity I was grateful for and definitely is one of the coolest things I’ve been asked to do and I’m super excited for The Fault In Our Stars movie (out June 6 from Twentieth Century Fox!) so I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say regarding the movie and of the buzz. Seriously, who else is ready to bawl their eyes out??
But you know me, readers, and you know somehow I have a knack for THINGS to happen that make an ordinary story into a Jamie Story. I don’t know how these things happen to me (my family members and friends had messages of “omg only YOU” when I told them) but they do. So I’m going to share the interview highlights with you and then leave my story at the end! THE SUSPENSE. (I’m trusting you not to scroll down, friends!)
I wish I could just show you guys the WHOLE interview because there was so much GOOD said but it would be very long. I loved the questions and his answers were so thoughtful and genuine. It was a great conversation and made me very optimistic about the movie. I’m going to share the parts of the conversation that were most interesting to ME and I hope you’ll find them to be interesting as well!
1. We shall start with my question first because why not!
My question: I know you were nervous to ever give up rights for TFIOS to be a movie because it was so personal to you…what was your biggest fear in doing so?
John Green: “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 heir disability, instead of having disability be part of their lives but not the defining feature of their lives. But, the people who ended up getting the rights at Fox 2000 and the producers, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner, they just promised me that they wouldn’t do that. That was the first thing they said to me when we met, and I believed them. I took it seriously, and they kept every promise. They really did.”
—> I loved what he had to say about this because I am always afraid, especially in the case of TFIOS, that when a book goes to movie that they will miss the spirit of the story. And TFIOS was most definitely not a sentimental story and it was NOT about them having cancer. I HAVE HOPE THEY WILL GET IT RIGHT.
2. John on some “behind the scenes” aspects of making the movie:
- On if important dialogue in the book made it to the movie: “Almost every line of dialogue is from the book. If anything, I was like, “Guys, don’t feel so married to the book.” But, they were. They were also very conscious of what lines were important to readers, thanks to the gifts of Tumblr and Twitter and everything else. They saw what people were responding to, making art about, and it was important to them to keep it in….There were a lot of lines I wanted to preserve if we could make them sound movie-ish and, you know, normal. But I think they did an amazing job. I think everything that fans want to hear they’re going to hear.”
- On his role in casting and if he SAW the characters before casting: “I’m really bad at looking at faces and understanding faces, I think. So, I don’t really see faces that clearly when I’m writing. 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. But, I definitely got to share my opinion, and I was lucky that, in the end, the cast that I dreamt of is the cast that we got. I think Gus was the hardest role to cast for. When Ansel was with Shailene, he just became Augustus to me. “
- On how often he was there during filming & his role: “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. But, yeah, I was there most of the time. 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….I was professionally excited on the set.”
3. John on GreenLit & all the other buzz around him vs. other YA lit because of TFIOS movie
I was really happy another interviewer brought up the recent GREENLIT and some of the ridiculous things that have been printed about YA and John Green as the buzz around The Fault In Our Stars movie has begun. It’s been a topic discussed all over Twitter and blogs and so I was very interested to hear what he had to say about it.
- On the Hollywood Reporter article saying he has done things Judy Blume never has: “Right, which is ridiculous. Blume has achieved a lot that I haven’t.” <— I loved this succinct response.
- On the misconceptions that John is ushering in contemporary YA: “I can only–every time I’m asked that question, like “Oh, this is such a departure from dystopias or vampires,” I’m like, “Not really,” because really the world of contemporary realistic young adult fiction is very old and very well established. And I am but one writer and not the best, not even near the best, I don’t think, in the world. And also that I think part of what makes YA so strong is that there’s a longstanding conversation between and within genres. You have sci-fi books and fantasy books interacting with and responding to realistic fiction and mysteries, and one of the things I really love about YA is all that stuff sharing a shelf. I try really hard to talk about that in interviews, to talk about the way that it looks very different to us from inside the world of YA, that it isn’t about one book or one story, and that there’s hundreds and hundreds of books every year that are read by at least 10,000 teenagers. And that, to me, is the real story about YA, is its diversity and breadth, and finding way to preserve and grow that diversity rather than celebrating single titles. But, right now there’s going to be a lot of attention on my work in association with the movie. And I’m trying to answer the questions as best I can, but there is a story that people want to tell. And they’re going to tell that story, a lot of times regardless of what I say.”
4. John on how the movie has made him look at his own book differently
“When I was writing the book, I saw the world through Hazel’s eyes. I didn’t imagine the world through Gus’s eyes or the world through Hazel’s parents’ eyes as much. I mean, I guess I connected a lot to Hazel’s dad, so maybe there was some empathy there. But, I was trying to stay narrowly in Hazel’s mind and seeing the world as Hazel would see it. 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. 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.”
5. John on the final outcome of the movie:
- “They (the producers) were absolutely 100 percent committed to making a movie that would honor the story and that fans of the story would care about and respond to. And I believed them…And I think they did a really good job, and I think that’s why, for me, at least, it’s such a special movie, because it’s so hard to do that well. It’s so hard to take a tone that’s in a novel and put it into a movie. It’s such a different format. They were just so committed to doing that that I think it worked. I think that was their priority, and it really–at least for me, it really did work….I genuinely love the movie. I feel so grateful to the people who made it, because it’s one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen.”
- I wish I could tell you about all the things that I’m unhappy about (re: the movie), but I’m really not. Well, except for the sort of mainstream media coverage that The Fault in Our Stars is the only young adult novel ever published.” <— LOLS. I’ll tell you. He had me laughing a lot during the whole interview.
It was a seriously lovely and stimulating conversation to be honest with you. He made me laugh as much as he made me think (kind of like his books?) and I really appreciated the opportunity to be on this call and really appreciated how candid and friendly John was. Very down-to-earth guy! I’m even MORE pumped for the movie!
So before I leave you with my VERY memorable story that goes along with this call….go watch the trailer and cry a little bit. And then laugh at my story.
Official websites – #TFIOS
About the film
Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them — and us – on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.
Starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Mike Birbiglia, and Emily Peachey
Directed by Josh Boone
Screenplay by Scott Neustadter, based on the book by John Green
Produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
So we all get to ask a question to John and we have been told we were muted on the call when we were not speaking. So I’m sitting in my car (super professional right?) because we have crap service in our apartment and I ask my question first and then I settle in and listen to all of the questions and his really thoughtful answers. Well, Will comes out to head to the gym so I jump out of my car, thinking I AM ON MUTE, and I run over to him and I shove the phone to his ear and I’m like, “OMG OMG LISTEN JOHN GREEN.” And then I say something else and then, “Don’t worry…I’m on mute.” And THEN, to my shock and horror, John Green STOPS what he is saying, laughs and says, “HAHA you aren’t on mute.” I was then promptly put on mute. I look at Will with only the most wide eyed look one could have and slink back to the car while giggling/cursing my luck.
ONLY ME, FRIENDS. But I will remember it for sure! And hey, maybe if I say, “HEY JOHN I was that girl who thought I was muted” the next time I see him…maybe he will remember me haha.
Any thoughts on things brought up in the interview? Are you excited for the movie? What are you anticipating seeing on the big screen??