In a young-adult literary landscape populated by all stripes and claws of the supernatural, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was a welcome shot of reality when it hit shelves in 2012 — even with its reminder that the real world can be every bit as dangerous as any dystopian future. Fault tells the funny, sweet, and poignant love story of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), two teens who meet in a cancer support group. The book quickly became a best-selling phenomenon. Now the movie is poised to follow suit. (The trailer has more than 14 million views and counting.) Woodley understands the fan fervor — the novel is one of her favorites, too. The Divergent star fought hard for the role, writing impassioned letters to both Green and director Josh Boone (Stuck in Love). “If I’m passionate about something, I’ll do everything I can to try to be a part of it,” she says.
While mentally casting his perfect Hazel, Boone didn’t initially picture Woodley for the part. That is, until she read for him. “I was blown away,” he says, adding that the actress had the entire room in tears. “We were all crying. It was actually sort of bad,” he says with a laugh. “But it was hers from that moment on.”
The filmmakers didn’t have to look far to cast Augustus: Ansel Elgort was shooting Divergent, playing Woodley’s brother, when he went for a screen test. Woodley insisted that he read not just the script but also Green’s novel before his first meeting with the filmmakers. “I thought, ‘If I tell her I haven’t read it, she’ll be mad during our audition and it would be a mess,'” he says. “So I literally read it for Shailene. And then I was freakin’ obsessed.” Hey, join the club.