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'Paper Towns' preview: Q&A with John Green

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Michael Tackett

STARRING Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage

DIRECTED BY Jake Schreier

NOT YET RATED

RELEASE DATE July 24

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for John Green. Last June the adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, his best-selling novel about teenagers with cancer, became a blockbuster, grossing more than $300 million worldwide and certifying his status as a YA rock star. This July yet another of his novels is coming to the big screen—and this one doesn’t require three hankies. A mystery-romance directed by Jake Schreier (2012’s Robot & Frank), Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin, a.k.a. Q (Nat Wolff, also from Fault), a wry teenager who sets off on a road trip to find out what ever happened to the enigmatic girl next door, Margo (model Cara Delevingne). “It’s a great movie about friendship,” says Green. “I’m thrilled. I hope everyone likes it as much as I do.” A few days before Paramount announced plans to adapt a third Green novel, 2005’s Looking for Alaska, EW spoke with the always amiable author about transitioning into life in Hollywood.

You were on the set of The Fault in Our Stars almost every day, and you did the same with Paper Towns. Do you feel like you understood the moviemaking process better the second time around?

GREEN No. It’s like visiting a sausage shop twice and thinking you know how to make sausage. I knew a little bit more about what I was getting into this time, but still the magic took hold for me and I was able to just enjoy it.

You are an executive producer on Paper Towns. What does that mean exactly?

GREEN No one knows what “executive producer” means. I’ve asked a lot of people. [Laughs]

What was it about Nat Wolff that made him right for the part of Q?

GREEN He read Paper Towns on the set of The Fault in Our Stars, and I told him that if they ever made a movie of another one of my books, I wanted him to play the main character. I love Nat, and he just naturally sounds like I want the characters in my books to sound. He’s got that tension between innocence and experience, between wanting to live a big, bold life and being absolutely terrified to. He’s also exceptionally mature—I think of Nat more as a friend and collaborator than as a kid.

Did you ever think a supermodel would play Margo?

GREEN Whatever ideas I had about supermodels, Cara immediately deconstructed them and threw them back at me. She’s a wonderful actress. That’s one of the things that I hope will come out of this—people seeing just how talented she is. I desperately wanted to be like her when I was her age. I wanted to have that courage of my convictions and genuinely not care what other people thought of me. I think if you are lucky, you get to meet a few genuinely eccentric people; Cara is one of the few I’ve come across in my life. She’s wonderfully, insanely talented, and also entirely herself.

Can you compare your experiences on Fault and Paper Towns?

GREEN It’s hard. The movies are totally different. Paper Towns is a really funny movie, and The Fault in Our Stars, for all of its excellence, fell very flat for me as a comedy. [Laughs] The last movie I got to watch people crush my soul, and this time I got to watch them lift it up.