Star Struck with “The Fault In Our Stars”
By MIKAELA ADWAR
The week of June 2nd proved to be one of the most overwhelming and exhilarating weeks of my entire life. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, the bestselling novel chronicling the tale of two teenagers with cancer who fall in love, was turned into a movie and would premiere that upcoming Thursday night, June 5th. Though my recollection of the events that took place is a bit frantic and discombobulated, I wish to share my experience with all of you in four distinct parts.
Part I: An Introduction
To say that I am a fan of John Green would be a gargantuan understatement. Since watching my first VlogBrothers video, in which John speaks of babies and catacombs in Vienna, Austria, I have been hooked. You may ask, “What on earth does this have to do with that sad movie about kids with cancer?” To which I reply, “Everything.” Quite simply, Mr. Green is a jack of all trades. Though he is most known for his young adult novels, John Green first entered my life when I discovered his and his brother Hank Green’s YouTube channel. In 2006, the two embarked upon a joint project they called Brotherhood 2.0, through which they ceased all text-based communication and restricted any conversation to video blogs that they uploaded to their YouTube channel, VlogBrothers, for an entire year. Though the project ended on December 31, 2007, the two had attracted quite a following – a group of fans known as Nerdfighters–and have continued to upload several videos on a weekly basis ever since. The pair has amassed over two million subscribers, and the number only seems to be growing.
I found my way to the VlogBrothers YouTube page after reading John’s first book, the Michael L. Printz Award recipient Looking for Alaska. I subsequently tore through the rest of Mr. Green’s then published novels, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, all while keeping up with the VlogBrothers videos each and every week. I watched as John detailed the publication of his newest book, The Fault in Our Stars, and discussed his excitement for its release. My excitement was unable to be contained, and upon receiving the book, I read the entire thing, cover to cover, in a matter of hours. Unlike his other books, this one haunted me for days on end. It seemed that all I could think about were the main characters, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, and even silly television commercials would trigger a memory of a chapter and render me, the animated, talkative, me, silent in thought. Although I spent the majority of the second half of the book in tears, I raved about it for days on end to all who would listen (or at least pretend to). So when it was announced that my beloved novel would be adapted into a film, the flurry of feelings that had followed my completion of the book returned.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been an avid reader and have been known as such. Consequently, my love for John Green and his books was not unbeknownst to many of my peers and closest friends. One of whom is Carly Lapidus, who finished The Fault in Our Stars a few months back and, after my incessant rambling and declarations of adoration for the book, knew that I was just as excited as she was for the movie. After careful settings of iPhone reminders and days spent begging our parents, the two of us hopped onto our computers the day of the ticket release and purchased two tickets for the night of the premiere at our local movie theater. That was enough to send us into a complete frenzy. However, what my mother would refer to as a “minor Mikaela meltdown” was totally eclipsed by a “massive Mikaela meltdown” the week before the premiere.
It was approximately nine o’clock in the evening, and I had just hopped out of the shower. I noticed that I had missed two calls from Carly on my cell when the house phone began to ring. As soon as I pressed the talk button, it seemed that choruses of “Oh my god!” and “This can’t be happening!” reverberated through the entire floor of my house. After preparing myself for the worst (that she would not be able to accompany me to the premiere on Thursday), Carly sidelined me by screaming, “WE ARE MEETING HIM, MIKAELA!!” “Who?” I inquired. “JOHN GREEN!” she responded, and it seemed as if this was some sort of practical joke. “You know how my mom’s friend, Joanne, is the producer of the last hour of the Today Show, right? Well, she knows that you and I are massive fans of The Fault in Our Stars, so she just called to tell my mom that John Green, Shailene Woodley (who portrays Hazel), and Ansel Elgort (who portrays Augustus) are going to be interviewed by Kathie Lee & Hoda–and we get to go to the Today Show and watch!” Shock does not even describe how I felt when I had finally internalized all Carly had said. After a moment of complete silence, I started screaming with her. I honestly don’t think I have ever been that ecstatic since I found out that my father was going to overnight the seventh installment of Harry Potter to me at sleepaway camp in 2007.
Part III: Partial Paralysis and My Claim to Fame
I truly do not believe that I fully understood how nervous I was until we arrived at Rockefeller Plaza that Monday. We were quickly ushered into the green room downstairs, and it seemed that this surreal day would only become even stranger as Susan Sarandon walked through the door.
About five minutes laer, John Green waltzed through the entryway. I punched Carly in the leg to alert her and then immediately became paralyzed as every emotion flooded through me. Sheri, Carly’s mother, watched as we stared as Mr. Green walked across the room and proceeded to laugh at our frozen expressions and murmurs of, “Oh my god, oh my god.” She promptly stood up and marched up to him, much to our horror, and began to tell him how much we both loved his book and would like to take a picture with him. He swiftly sauntered over with a large smile on his face, greeted us, and complimented my glasses. All I could manage was a shaky, “Th-Thanks” and, “I am a massive VlogBrothers fan.” Those two phrases were so mentally exhausting that it felt like I had been forced to run a mile, twice. Days of planning about what I was going to say to this man who I had watched for years, whose books I had devoured, whose writing I had worshipped, were simply thrown out the window. Two phrases were all I could manage … Oh, and the spelling of my name when he signed my book. He was quickly ushered out of the room, after a quick picture, of course, and we were taken upstairs for the beginning of filming. As soon as we were brought inside the studio, we were placed on top of black marks on the ground and then told that we would be on television. Within a couple of minutes, Hoda and Kathie Lee were introducing Joanne’s friend, Sheri, her daughter, and her daughter’s friend. I, Mikaela Gillian Adwar, had never been so excited to be known as “daughter’s friend.” With the cameras pointed at the three of us, I reverted into the supremely awkward being that I am, and proceeded to weirdly smile and look uncomfortable on national television.
The excitement didn’t end there, however, as we were taken downstairs yet again to watch the next couple of segments. Once downstairs, Carly and I spent approximately six and a half minutes staring at the perfection that is Ansel Elgort and then watched as he, along with Shailene and John, were interviewed. I was sandwiched between John’s wife and his assistant, Rosianna (whom I recognized from YouTube). I honestly still feel like the entire experience was some sort of dream or hallucination that resulted from a late night study session.
Part IV: Black Waterfalls and Sniffly Noses
After the whirlwind that was Monday, Carly’s and my exuberance for the release of the movie on Thursday was amplified tenfold. We arrived at the movie theater hours before the actual start time, and were given a poster and bracelet to commemorate the night. My expectations for the movie were quite high, and I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. Although I maintain that the book is always better than the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, despite the fact that I sobbed for the majority of the second half. To all those who are planning on renting the movie, I would recommend some mental preparation and a large box of tissues. I am not ashamed to say that I was crying so hard that I started laughing at myself for being so emotional outside of the confines of my room. This was the type of “ugly crying” that makes you sniffle so loud people may think you’ve contracted some sort of disease that causes mascara to stream down your face in black waterfalls. I was happy to know that I was not alone. At both screenings of the movie (yes, I have seen it twice), it seemed as if the entire audience came together to sob their eyes out for the last couple of scenes. When the movie ended, there was a special 30-minute live stream during which the cast, producer, director, and John Green answered some questions from Twitter, followed by performances by Birdy and the Wolff brothers.
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of A.O. Scott, in his New York Times review of the movie. The soundtrack is amazing and contains some of my favorite artists such as Kodaline and Ed Sheeran. The movie is one of the most faithful book adaptations I have ever seen. Though some parts were left out of the film, I left feeling satisfied that the love story of Hazel and Gus was executed quite well. When Carly and I left the theater that first night, I must have looked like a complete nutcase with tears leaking nonstop from my eyes and a smile plastered permanently on my face. With my whirlwind of a week over and a bag of mementos in my hand, I looked at Carly with black-rimmed eyes and whispered, “I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.”
If you wish to see me looking extremely awkward on the Today Show, click here … but proceed with caution.