Mundie Moms

Friday, May 23, 2014

An Exclusive Interview With John Green About 'The Fault In Our Stars' Movie

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to join nine other bloggers to interview John Green, the New York Times best selling author of The Fault In Our Stars, to discuss the movie's upcoming release. Our interview got me even more excited to see this movie, which hits theaters on June 6th!

John Green is one of the most down to earth people I've had the chance of talking to. It was obvious during the course of the interview how much he appreciated his fans, the love the the studio has for Hazel & Gus's story  and how true to the story the studio stayed to the book. I walked away from the interview feeling that the studio, 20th Century Fox, got the movie right, and I've not even seen it yet. As John points out during the interview, if he felt that they didn't make the movie right, he wouldn't be talking about it. Trust me, he gushed (does John Green gush?!) about the movie and the studio. From hearing all he said about the studio and the way they made the movie, I have no doubts this will be one accurately made book to movie adaptation.

I absolutely loved the way the story was written. I was curious about what lines John felt were most important in staying in the movie. Here is my question to John:

Katie (Mundie Moms):  Hey, John.  How are you doing?
Mr. John Green:  Hey, Katie.  How's it going?  
Katie:  Good.
So, I absolutely love this book.  And I rarely highlight my books, but I highlighted so many passages, because you have written to many wonderful passages between Gus and Hazel.  And I know oftentimes that when books get made into movies, really important passages don't always make it into the script.  Where there any passages that you were adamant about staying in for the movie?
Mr. John Green:  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 the book.  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.  
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.  
Katie: That makes me happy to hear. I'm excited to see the movie.  
Mr. John Green:  Yeah.  I mean, I genuinely--you know, you don't have to do this stuff.  So, if I didn't like the movie, I wouldn’t be talking about it.  You know what I mean?  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.  
Katie:  Well, I'm excited to hear that.  That makes me feel way better going to watch the movie now.  Thank you.
Mr. John Green:  Well, now if you don't like it you can be personally mad at me.  
Katie:  I'm sure I'll love it.  If they kept true to that, I'm sure I'll love it.
Mr. John Green:  Thank you.

There were so many great questions and answers during the course of the group interview. I've picked a few of the to share below (in no particular order). 

Sarah (Forever Young Adult): And my question is, was there anything in the book, like a character or a scene, that the film adaptation made you see in a different light?  
Mr. John Green:  Yeah, that's a great question.  There was a lot, really.
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.  

Jamie (Perpetual Page Turner): I know you were nervous to give over the rights to the film because the book was just so personal to you.  What was your biggest fear in doing so?
Mr. 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 their 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.
Jamie:  Great.  I can't wait to watch it.  
Mr. John Green:  Yeah, I hope you like it.  

Sara (Novel Novice):  I'm probably going to ask another semi-controversial question.
Mr. John Green:  That's fine.
Sara:  I apologize in advance.  I have noticed there has been some frustration lately in the YA community, just online and blogging and social media, about how some of the mainstream media is discussing The Fault in Our Stars in relation to other YA lit.  In particular, I saw a lot of people complaining about the Hollywood Reporter article that claimed you've done what Judy Blume never achieved.  
Mr. John Green:  Right, which is ridiculous. Blume has achieved a lot that I haven't.
Sara:  Well, exactly.  And I think everyone in YA is like, "No, this is stupid.  And we love John, but—.” So what do you think that you, with the notoriety that's coming from The Fault in Our Stars and then the YA community as a whole, can do to combat these misguided perceptions as the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars and similar properties increases?  
Mr. John Green:  I can only say what I can say in interviews, and that obviously that wasn't a quote from me.  I didn't say that. I don't think that, you know?  
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 that 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.
Sara:  Well, thank you.  We're listening to what you say.
Mr. John Green:  I know.  I appreciate it.  

Stacey (Tree Root and Twig): I'm wondering at what point during The Fault in Our Stars did you allow yourself to think, "This might really happen.  This is going to really happen" because I know you'd been through this with some of your other books.  Was there a point at which it just felt different and you really knew that it was going to all come together?  
Mr. John Green:  When they hired Josh to direct it, people said to me, "They don't hire a director unless they're going to make the movie."  
But I still--I didn't believe that, because people in Hollywood say a lot of things.  To be honest with you, I flew out to Pittsburgh thinking that they might pull the plug at the last second.
I remember asking the producer of the movie, "What is technically the commencement of principal photography," because that's when it gets very, very, very expensive not to make the movie.  
And he was like, "We're going to make the movie.  It starts filming tomorrow."  And I was like, "But, this is not technically the commencement of principal photography?"  And he was like, "No, that's tomorrow."  And I was like, "Well, we'll see."  
So, I mean, I did not let myself believe that it was going to happen until I was on set that morning, that first morning.  I saw Hazel and her parents walk out of their house together and the cameras were rolling, and then I knew.  And that was a great.
Stacey:  What a moment.  
Mr. John Green:  It was a very special moment.  It was almost like they designed that whole first day to be metaphorically resonant for me, to have them walking out of this house that looked so much like the Hazel's house of my imagination and these people who looked so much like I'd dreamt of.  It was like having a hallucination but that happens two or three years after you think the thing.  It was very, very weird.


On June 6th, The Fault In Our Stars movie hits the big screen! I for one can not wait to see it. To gear up for this highly anticipated movie, I reviewed TFIOS here on Mundie Moms. WOW, what an amazing, and incredibly read it was. I have a feeling the movie is going to be absolutely amazing!

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

Official websites - #TFIOS
Visit the official website
Like TFIOS on Facebook
Follow @TheFaultMovie on Twitter
Follow on Google+ & Instagram

Watch the Trailer


* Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox

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