Shailene Woodley Q&A: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’
For Shailene Woodley, playing Hazel in "The Fault in Our Stars" presented the challenge of staying true to the character and story of John Green’s book on which the film is based. She tells Gold Derby that it "was difficult in its own right just because we were so keen on protecting the integrity of what he originally created."
Hazel is a teenage girl with terminal thyroid cancer, but for her performance, Woodley explains that "it was important to us we didn’t play that. I don’t consider this a movie about cancer; I do consider it a movie about love. And in that regard it was really exciting for me as an adult to get back in touch with what those feelings feel like when you do fall in love with a another human being for the first time. Because it’s so different, there’s so much innocence involved, and you’re not quite jaded by relationships yet so you're able to really give so much to yourself as another person."
Woodley had to strike a balance between telling a love story with the fears of cancer underlying the romance. Hazel is reluctant to invest in her relationship because of her prognosis. Woodley says this shows her character’s selflessness; she's "so hyper aware of how her footprints in life do affect other people around her." In portraying this, she was able to draw inspiration from people in her life who she has known to be sick, observing that "their biggest fear isn’t necessarily death of themselves for themselves; it’s what their passing will create for others."
Acting opposite Ansel Elgort proved to be helpful as he and Woodley had developed a "brother and sister dynamic" from working on the film "Divergent." She explains that this was a benefit "going into a movie like this where you do need to be vulnerable and comfortable because of the emotional intimacy." All they needed to do was "figure out how to bring the love component into it because we don’t actually have that in our relationship."
Reflecting on the film’s success, Woodley says, "You watch and you leave affected because it is something we can all relate to, whether it’s death or falling in love or whatnot."