1. Shailene Woodley is a brilliant actress and Golden Globe nominee. I cannot think of any 18-year-old actress who has received the kind of critical acclaim that she has (she also won an Independent Spirit Award).
She auditioned for The Fault in Our Stars not because she needs the part (I mean, she’s in the new Spider Man movie, for God’s sakes) but because she loves the book. Her depth of understanding were immediately obvious in the audition and for me there could be no one else to play Hazel. (There were a bunch of really good auditions, but Shailene just understood Hazel as I imagined her.)
I am not particularly concerned with physical looks; Hollywood can fix that stuff. (Remember when Nicole Kidman became Virginia Woolf?) I’m concerned with whether she can embody the voice and experience and life of Hazel. She can.
2. Ansel Elgort is also a huge fan of TFiOS (it is, in fact, his favorite book). He was a high school basketball player who also happens to be a very intellectual guy. Most importantly, when he auditioned, he became Augustus. Watching him audition with Shailene, he was just Gus and she was just Hazel. He understood Gus, and clearly had a very deep and thoughtful relationship with the book. Honestly, I’m a bit confused as to how you can dislike an actor whose work you have definitionally never seen, since his first movie isn’t out yet.
3. Novelists do not cast movies, so these were not my decisions (although I did have a lot of input). But I’m defending them because I think they’re both perfect for their parts (and I’d tell you if I felt otherwise).
4. There seems to be some concern that Ansel and Shailene are playing siblings in a different movie. I guess I can understand that, but they’re actors. They can play different roles. They’ll look different and act different and be different. I mean, no one watched Silver Linings Playbook and thought, “When did Katniss move to the suburbs of Philadelphia?”
If the movie works, you’ll sit down in the theater and you won’t say, “Oh look it’s Shailene Woodley,” or, “Oh, look, it’s Tris from Divergent.” You’ll say, “Holy wow Hazel Grace.”
Erin’s latest movie is cast. I can’t wait to see this one.