John Green’s young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars (TFiOS) defied expectations when it arrived on the market early last year. Even today, it’s still on the New York Times bestseller list and has received exceptional reviews from Time, The Washington Post, and Booklist. Green himself has a massive and dedicated fan base known as Nerdfighters (they don’t fight nerds, but they do fight things they consider to be “world suck” like global warming, prejudice, and natural disasters). Nerdfighters read Green’s books and religiously watch his YouTube channel, VlogBrothers, where he and his scientist brother, Hank, post sometimes thoughtful, sometimes wacky videos. Their massive following is unique and fascinating to analyze, although that’s an article for another day.
The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two Indianapolis teens battling cancer. Although some may write it off as just another cancer book, Green’s novel resonates with many for he manages to include both humor and an authentic teenage romance within the book. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that you won’t cry if you read it, because you will, guaranteed. But this book has so much more to offer than that. TFiOS has been optioned by Fox 2000, who hired writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber (500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now) to adapt the book for the screen. After having over 250 girls read for the part, Shailene Woodley was recently cast to play Hazel. We thought we’d make a pro/con chart to organize our thoughts about this recent development:
Pro: She was incredible in The Descendants
Woodley certainly showed us her acting chops in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, in which she played the daughter of George Clooney’s character. As odd as it was to see forever-bachelor Clooney with two kids, he and Woodley had great father-daughter chemistry and effortlessly bounced off of one another. The scene where Woodley finds out that her mother is being taken off life support is heartbreaking and one of the best moments of the movie. Apparently, the Hollywood Foreign Press agreed because she received a Golden Globe nomination for the role, and many would cry “snub” when they found our she had failed to receive equal recognition at the Oscars. TFiOS would require even more emotional acting and it seems likely that Woodley is capable of it.
Con: But..but…Secret Life?
Yes, it’s true that Woodley plays whiny Amy Juergens in ABC Family’s melodrama The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The show is painful to watch for a variety of reasons, including its odd teenage characters (apparently real teenager behavior truly is a secret to the show’s writers). But should we really hold this against Woodley? The show has helped her build popularity and has gotten her name out there, which is what she really needs at this point in her career. And could anyone make creator Brenda Hamilton’s dialogue sound better? However, it is possible that Woodley’s association with Secret Life might turn some people off to TFiOS.
Pro: John Green supports her
TFiOS‘s author John Green told Entertainment Weekly that he saw Woodley audition and that it was eerie and exciting to see Hazel’s character come through. To John Green’s fans, he can do no wrong, so many of them will probably put their trust in him and come out to see the film, regardless of their feelings about Woodley. Green also said that Woodley loves the book and has a profound understanding of Hazel. To fans this is very important – that the actress playing Hazel adores the character and the book as much as the fans do.
Con: We really haven’t seen her in much of anything else
Although her performance in The Descendants was spot on, Woodley really hasn’t had much of a chance to prove that she’s not just a one-trick pony. She did star in the indie The Spectacular Now to positive reviews, which is set to be released later this summer, but can she carry a whole movie by herself? She’ll be able to lean on the actor who plays Augustus Waters (not casted yet), but the majority of the job will fall upon Woodley. In addition to this, Woodley doesn’t have the dedicated following that other young and talented actresses have, like Ellen Page or Emma Stone. The studio can’t depend on her face to bring in the crowds.
Pro/Con: She was recently cast in two other high-profile roles
Woodley snatched up the role of Tris in the very popular YA dystopian series Divergent and is playing Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-man 2. These two roles could either help or hinder the TFiOS movie. If both movies and Woodley’s performance are well received, her popularity could rise and bring in a bigger audience for TFiOS. But if one or both of them bombs, people might write her off, and therefore write off TFiOS. Plus, will Woodley be able to invest her entire self into Hazel’s character if she has two other major side projects? The movie demands a powerful performance from Woodley and will easily fall flat without it.
What do you guys think of Woodley’s casting? Exciting to see her back in a heavy drama? Sound off below!
Article by Liz Isenberg