If there is one thing John Green fans are good at, it’s expressing their emotions — often at high volume.
Anywhere The Fault In Our Stars author goes he is accompanied by the window-shattering screams of his battalions of loyal fans, but put him on the stage with the makers of the upcoming film adaptation and the auditorium rings with some seriously ecstatic screaming.
As the movie version of the juggernaut best-seller heads to screens next week, here’s what made the fans cry out during The Fault In Our Stars movie presentation at BookCon on Saturday:
1. MOVIEMAKING WORRIES
Green said he initially resisted the idea of a film adaptation because he assumed Hollywood would try to minimize the painful parts of this story of two young cancer patients who fall in love, finding a reason to live as they face down death.
For instance, he didn’t want the actress who plays Hazel (Shailene Woodly) to be depicted without the cannula breathing tube, even in the advertising – which he assumed would never happen.
Green began to change his mind when producer Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner grabbed him for a few minutes backstage at a middle school event, and did a quick sell.
“They said … ‘We’re going to see that Hazel has her cannula in every part of the movie. Her disability is going to be part of her life, but not the defining characteristic of her life,” Green said. “They had three or four minutes to talk to me, and in those three minutes they said everything I wanted to hear.”
A mild cheer went up for that.
“I felt like I had to let them try,” Green said. “And I have to say they kept every promise.
LEVEL: 1, Obligatory. They’d heard this before.
2. CHANGES TO THE STORY
Green revealed that he was bothered by some of the changes in the script, but only out of envy.
“There were parts of it I was infuriated by, actually. But I was mad about things I wish I had done,” the author said. “Particularly at the end of the script. I remember I got to the last 10 pages and was like, ARRRGH! So much better. ARRRGH. I was really mad. … I worked on that for years!”
There was a moment of stunned silence as fans contemplated possible alterations to the book’s tearful finale, made by screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, best known for (500) Days of Summer.
Then Green reassured them: “They captured the tone of the book, the feel of the book, and the vibe I wanted the book to have. I have no idea how they did that, but I was very grateful. I called Wyck and said, ‘This is good, let’s not change anything.”
LEVEL: 4, Nervous relief and curiosity.
3. JUST ASKING FOR IT
The moderator, Entertainment Weekly’s own Sara Vilkomerson, noted that actor and musician Nat Wolff (who plays Isaac, a friend of lead characters Gus and Hazel who has lost his eyesight to cancer) is the one who first brought the material to director Josh Boone.
“I said you got to get this director job, they don’t have a director for The Fault In Our Stars,” Wolff said, breaking into a mumbling impersonation: “’Ah, well … I’ll never get that.’ And then I think he just owed me, so he had to give me the part of Isaac.”
Then Wolff paused, smiled at the audience, and said: “How you guys doing?”
A scream of ecstasy erupted – for no good reason, as Green noted: “You can tell Nat is a musician because if it goes 30 seconds without screaming, he’s like, ‘What’s wrong?”
LEVEL: 5, Swooning.
4. THE HEART WILL GO ON
Vilkomerson also asked Boone what his pitch was that earned him the job from the producers.
“I went in and told them that I thought this was Titanic, and cancer was the iceberg,” Boone said.
The rest of his answer was drowned out by a swell of bittersweet moans.
SCREAM: AWWWwwwwww …
LEVEL: 4, it hurts so good.
5. FUTURE MOVIES FROM JOHN GREEN
Boone, who worked with Wolff on the 2012 film Stuck In Love, described the actor as a good luck charm of sorts. “Nat and I are married cinematically, forever,” Boone said. (Wolff deadpanned: “Not just cinematically.”)
“That’s great. But he is not available while we’re filming Paper Towns,” Green cut in, referring to the upcoming film adaptation of his other novel, which will also feature Wolff.
A wail of excitement pierced the air, and a similar cry rose later when an audience member asked Green if his novel Looking For Alaska would also be headed to the screen soon. Green hesitated, looking back and forth between the producers, clearly not sure how to answer – but suggesting there was good news.
“None of us control Looking For Alaska,” producer Godfrey said. “But I have a feeling as of next week things will look better.”
Green smiled. “That’s a very politically astute answer, Wyck. Good job.”
LEVEL: 7, and a double. The crowd was very eager to see both of those movies become realities.
6. TRACKS OF MY TEARS
Green addressed his now infamous crying jags during the filming in Pittsburgh.
“Well, I mean, I cried a lot, partly because there are some sad parts,” Green said. “But I also cried during the happy parts and the funny parts of the movie because I was so overwhelmed. … I might start crying right now.”
A sympathetic moan began to rumble through the auditorium.
“Yes, I did cry all the time, but I was crying because it was so overwhelming and nice,” he added. “I just felt so honored, and complete, and happy. It’s just been an amazing, amazing trip.”
LEVEL: 7, moist eyes, downturned mouths, and hands over hearts.
7. DANGEROUS RUSH
When Vilkomerson opened the panel up to questions from the audience, there was an immediate scuffling of chairs and shoving of tables as attendees – most of them adolescent girls – began crushing toward the microphone in the center of the room.
It was so intense, and so sudden, that a panic began to break out and Green himself began calling from the stage: “Stop. Stop! STOP! STOP!!”
He ordered everyone pushing into the line to, “Go back to your seats,” saying there were already more than enough people to close out the hour-long event.
SCREAM: CEASE AND DESIST!
LEVEL: 5, it was just Green crying out this time, but he was clearly worried about someone getting hurt.
8. TURNED ON, BUT SHOULD THE LEG COME OFF?
No doubt the biggest, funniest, and most emotional reaction during the BookCon panel came near the very end, when a young man wearing shorts that revealed his prosthetic leg got his turn at the microphone.
The lead male character, Gus (played by Ansel Elgort) has had one leg amputated due to his cancer, and the questioner first wanted to make a comment about the book’s famous love scene between Gus and Hazel.
“As an amputee myself, I just wanted to say thank you, John, for answering a lifelong question of mine, which is: whether, during sex, to keep my leg on or off,” the young man said, to deafening squeals of delight from the mostly female audience.
Green rocked back in his chair laughing, then brought everything to a halt by jumping off the stage to give the man a hug. When he returned to stage, Green said: “That didn’t go the direction I expected!”
A woman who had a question immediately after that noted: “I think he’s got a roomful of dates already,” while Green scanned the crowd and pointing out various girls swarming him.
“He’s not going to be able to walk out,” Green said. “He keeps getting stopped!”
LEVEL: 10, that blew to roof off the convention center. Even Green said, “That was one of the highlights of my whole career.”