Paper Towns: How Hannah Alligood was cast to play young Cara Delevingne
When moviegoers sit down for Paper Towns, it’s not Cara Delevingne they first see, but Hannah Alligood. The 12-year-old plays the younger version of Delevingne’s Margo Roth Spiegelman, and bears a striking resemblance — and striking brow-semblance — to the model/actress/Instagram queen. Put the two side-by-side, like in the photos from Paper Towns above or the social-media snapshots below, and they could pass for sisters in addition to co-Margos. Even John Green, who wrote the novel that inspired the film, has noted with hyperbole that Alligood looks more like Cara Delevingne as a kid than Delevingne herself did.
Casting director Ronna Kress says they were “really looking for a match” to Delevingne when casting the role. “She had to look like her, which is always so difficult to find someone where then when you transition into the adult version, your mind thinks ‘Oh yeah, that makes sense with her as a little girl.’”
Kress says her casting partners, Tara Feldstein and Chase Paris, found Alligood, then 11, while auditioning actresses in North Carolina, where Paper Towns was filmed.
“It’s sort of crazy! She had the shape of her face, which is a very unusual shape, and she really had the dynamic personality that Cara has,” Kress says. “Very often, especially when you’re looking for kids, it’s like a needle in a haystack, and we just got very lucky.”
Finding someone with Delevingne’s spirit was important, she says, because Young Margo “did have quite a bit to do in the movie — it wasn’t just one little shot and we were off. Those scenes were really important and you really needed to establish their relationship and the relationship of both when they were children and how that translated to when they were adults.”
Alligood auditioned in person for Feldstein and Paris, and then on tape for Kress — reading the scene when young Quentin (Josiah Cerio as a kid, Nat Wolff at high-school age) and Margo find a dead man in their local park. (“We wanted to make sure we found that emotional connection to the material,” she says.) They looked at “a ton” of prospective actresses, but Alligood “came to the front very quickly.”
“If you look at younger pictures of Cara when she was a little girl, that age, our little girl looked just like her,” said Kress. “Everything matched. And she was a great little actress.”
A great little actress with the right set of eyebrows.
Paper Towns is in theaters now.