Thursday, June 12, 2014

The fault in our stock

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
“You realize that trying to keep your distance from me in no way lessens my affection for you. All efforts to save me from you will fail.”

Augustus “Gus” Waters in The Fault in Our Stars jokingly, but imploringly, said these words to fellow cancer patient and love interest Hazel Lancaster. Ansel Elgort, played Augustus in the film adaption of the novel by John Greene, released June 6.

He delivered the statement with poise and ardor. Ansel portrayed the moving scene exactly as I had pictured, while reading the novel—with buoyancy, passion, and a touch of flippancy. Shailene Woodley played the sweet and vulnerable Hazel.  Her contributions to the scene were just as appropriately moving.

Ansel and Shailene’s performances in that scene, and countless others, were endearing - flawless. But I felt a bit uncomfortable while watching what I knew was a beautiful and undying affection unfolding.

Shailene Woodley also starred in the recent futuristic dystopian action movie, Divergent, released March 2014. I found Shailene’s portrayal of Tris (the female protagonist of Divergent) a bit mismatched. Veronica Roth, the book’s author, described Tris as small and weak. Her passion and unruly nature allow her to stand out and join the inevitable revolution.  Shailene’s vulnerability as Tris overshadowed any fighting spirit. She didn’t fit the role of the action heroine.

Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate
Though shaky in Divergent, Shailene excelled in Fault in Our Stars. Impeccably, she embodied the character of Hazel. As a helpless cancer patient, with a small bit of fight in her, Shailene portrayed Hazel seamlessly.  So, talent was not the issue - casting may have been.

Ansel Elgort also co-starred alongside Shailene in Divergent. There he played a blood-relative: Tris’s brother. Suddenly, The Fault in Our Stars became a cancer story about Shailene Woodley making out with her onscreen relative.

I was completely aware that these are fictional characters in a fictional movie. This wasn’t actually an inappropriate concept, but still, this was weird! Of all the possible male actors that could play an awesomely epic love interest (there are tons, just ask any teenage girl), why cast the one guy who played the lead actress's brother in another prominent franchise?  For me, it’s hard enough to accept actors in multiple roles, with opposing personality traits, but incest?

Maybe if The Fault in Our Stars came first, I might have been less shocked. I find it less disturbing when the sexual tension is eliminated after the fact, and also if the two movies were separated by a decent amount of time.  In time, I might have found it harder to remember their on screen relationship. But squeezing in the roles sequentially: relatives first, lovers second, and all in barely three months? I couldn’t handle the quick turn-around. Insurgent, the Divergent sequel, comes out March 2015 – right around the time I’ll begin to accept them as lovers.

While I watched The Fault in Our Stars, I couldn’t help but form a mental barrier between the two lovers. Every interaction they had—laughing, teasing, even kissing—just seemed awkward, and unnatural. They were adoring siblings – uncomfortably close adoring siblings. They were sweetly lovable, not lovesick. And it wasn’t their performance. Incessantly, the brother-sister notion crawled across my mind - and my skin.

I fell in love with Ansel Elgort, just as Hazel does with Gus. As she marvels in the novel, “I fell in love [with Augustus] the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” He was charismatic and delectable. Elgort’s smile was exactly how I pictured Augustus’ goofy, crooked grin.  He portrayed the know-it-all, overly-dramatic Gus with panache.

I guffawed at his on screen jokes, and sighed pathetically at his corny love speeches. The fact that I too fell in love with this guy made the “this is weird” feelings worse.

Shailene and Ansel are taking it in stride. When asked about the awkward double casting, just after Divergent premiered, Shailene noted, “I keep joking with Ansel about it. I’m like, ‘In a few months, buddy, you’re going to be my lover.” I like to think I have a good sense of humor, but . . . no.

When it was announced that Shailene and Ansel would be cast as Hazel and Gus, Ansel discussed the subject with an interviewer from Popsugar Entertainment. He admitted, “I just think it’s such a privilege. Shai is such a great actress and I think our chemistry is great as actors. We’re excited to work together and do different roles.” Ansel noted, “It would be a shame if we were only able to do one role together, brother and sister.” 

Shailene and Ansel handled this like professionals.  Maybe I’ll follow their lead.

…No, I still think it’s creepy.


  1. I liked them in Divergent but yes this is creepy!

  2. I liked them in Divergent but yes this is creepy


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