*Shailene Woodley has the “it” factor and whether it’s in “The Fault in our Stars” or in her daily life, she does not suffer fools gladly. “Divergent” was huge for Woodley, but by the look and sound of the crowd that was at the special screening for fans and members of the press, “Fault” will be even bigger. The screams were deafening and the onslaught of enthusiastic fans at the SVA Theater that May 3rd evening in New York City when they saw a member of the cast or the book’s author, John Green, was astounding.
Working as a child actor helped horn Woodley’s skills but it was not until her role in “The Descendants” three years ago that Hollywood took notice. Even back then, Woodley had her head screwed on right. At “The Descendants” press day she told The Film Strip we should never take for granted the opportunities afforded us when she explained what it was like during the shoot. “I think that people forget that we are so lucky to do what we do and to go to the places that we get to go to, and to practice our art because it is an art,” she explained. “Not just the acting, not just the directing but the lighting and the guy who pushes the camera. That’s a huge job. I don’t know if anyone ever realizes it. I could never do that, the timing and the strength. It was just a bunch of people painting the canvas everyday. It was amazing.”
Fast forward and we are at the Crosby Hotel in New York City for “The Fault in Our Stars” press day and the subject matter is appreciating the life you have. Woodley (Hazel), a 16-year old with cancer, falls in love with Ansel Elgort (Gus), who plays a 17-year-old with cancer. Director Josh Boone emphasized in the beginning that they wanted to show that “People who are sick are not less human, and show people where disabilities are a big part of their life, but it’s not the only identifying thing about them. To show full humor and pathos of being alive even if you’re very sick.”
What characters do you identify with and might want to sit down and have a conversation with?
SHAILENE WOODLEY: I identify with Gus because ‘there’s so much to do in the world and how am I going to change the world. What’s my mission going to be, am I this, or am I that,’ and I thank God that’s a very common theme when you’re that age, when you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you are going to do with your life, to be remembered and to be important. I love and was so moved by Hazel and her ability to recognize what it’s all about. She’s the least narcissistic person I’ve ever met in my life and why maybe she doesn’t actually exist [laughs]. But I would love to sit down and have a conversation [with her].
NAT WOLF: I think I would love to sit down with my girlfriend in the film that dumps me and say, ‘What the hell’?
SW: Yeah, I want to talk to her, too.
Shailene, Ansel has played your brother and your boyfriend. Is that weird, the transition?
SW: it’s not weird because I always wondered what it would be like kissing my brother. No. [Seriously] that’s sort of the beauty of being an actor is that you get to explore different relationships and not only like colors of yourself, but how you exist with different people. There’s something about working with someone again and again and again because the more you get to know somebody on a personal level the freer you feel artistically. So I think that if Ansel and I hadn’t known each other from Divergent, our relationship in this movie would not be what it is because we didn’t have to go through the rehearsal phase of getting to know one another and feeling comfortable with one another.
Also, we were very honest with each other throughout the movies and throughout this process. There would be times when we’d disagree, and if we didn’t know each other, we might not say that we disagree because there’s that politeness versus we were very open with one another when something wasn’t going the way we envisioned or whatnot. It completely lent to these characters and I guess everything is meant to be and I thank God we were brother and sister. Now, we get to spend the next four years together which is pretty freakin’ rad [referring to the Divergent sequels].
What makes Ansel a great leading man what are some of the things we should know about him?
JOSH BOONE: I thought he had such a beautiful purity to him. He hadn’t seen himself in a movie when he came to audition for us. I just think he was so unaware of how wonderful he was, and his purity more than anything else. It’s like Gus is such a difficult character to find in an actor. It’s so many different elements. There’s the intelligence, the sensitivity the aloofness. But it’s also a bit of goofiness. To have one guy who can embody all that, I didn’t know if we would ever find him. So when he came in to read with Shailene, we’re all like, ‘Oh, he’s playing in Divergent.’ But when he came in, he was fantastic and I think you were even surprised, Shai?
SW: Because of the Divergent thing, I think I was like ‘Oh, we’re reading together?’ The fact that two studios would even allow that to happen, you know, it’s just very rare. But it was very obvious and apparent. I have a lot of favorite things about Ansel. One of my favorite things is that Ansel, I feel, looks at the world every single day with a new set of eyes, ‘like wow, there’s a world out there and what am I going to taste today, experience, laugh with, find out about, learn or teach.’ I mean this dude is not only a producer, he’s an amazing pianist. He paints miniatures and wins contests painting miniatures, which is insane. He’s a ballet dancer
ANSEL ELGORT: I used to be [laughs].
SW: Ansel is literally one the most creative people I know. I’m constantly inspired by him.
“TFIOS” also stars Sam Trammull, Laura Derne, and Willem Dafoe.
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]