While "The Fault in Our Stars" tells the love story of Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), it also tells the stories of the people whose lives they touch. Hazel's relationship with her parents, played by Laura Dern and "True Blood" star Sam Trammell, is almost as important to her story as her relationship with Gus.
"Focusing on the parents, to a certain extent, makes the family complete," Trammell tells Zap2it. "It really is mostly Hazel's story obviously, but to tell her story -- she says that she's like a grenade and she's going to hurt everyone around her -- you've really got to develop the parents as well."
Hazel's parents, Frannie and Michael, aren't the typical movie parents. They're a depiction of a new generation of less conservative parents, and Trammell thinks that's important to highlight how "innocent" Hazel is.
"Hazel is just as much worried about hurting us as we are about keeping her safe. We're really sort modern parents. It's not a 1950s kind of family," he says. "I think it's really fun that we're the ones that have smoked pot. She doesn't know the lingo even. That, as a foil, shows how innocent she is. She's not sheltered, but she's been at home a lot."
Most uninitiated viewers of "The Fault in Our Stars" likely know the movie tells a love story about teens who have cancer, and that it will make them cry a lot. Even Trammell shed some tears when he watched the movie at its world premiere, and he had seen it already in director Josh Boone's editing bay. "There are a couple of spots that are impossible not to just be so moved by," he acknowledges.
But even with the promise of a good cry, Trammell doesn't think "The Fault in Our Stars" is a sad movie.
"I think it's really life-affirming, this movie," he says. "There's so many great, beautiful quotes in it and ideas in it. I love the thing about some infinities are bigger than others. I really like that it's about the importance of being loved deeply as opposed to being loved widely. Gus is more into being loved widely than deeply, but Hazel kind of reverses that. I think Gus learns from her in the end."
To him, the important message of the film is to "absorb and appreciate the beauty of life while it's happening, because life is so beautiful." "I think that's one of the many positive messages that it gets out," Trammell says. "The emotion in this movie is real, and I feel like it's really cathartic. It feels good. You know, the cries that are feel-good cries, in a way."
Bottom line: "You don't leave that movie feeling sad; you leave it feeling uplifted. It's really a love story."
"The Fault in Our Stars" is in theaters nationwide on June 6.
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