Interview | Nat Wolff Talks The Fault in Our Stars
The future is bright for Nat Wolff. The 19-year old actor and musician – he frequently tours with his brother Alex – has starred in over a dozen films, and with a promising upcoming slate that includes adaptations of The Stand and Paper Towns, his is a name we’ll be hearing more often.
Though the romance between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort forms the focus of The Fault in Our Stars, Wolff leaves an indelible impression as Isaac, the blind best friend of Elgort’s Gus. Ahead of the UK release of the film this week, I sat down with Wolff to discuss working with his co-stars, emotions and near-accidents on set, and more. Have a read of our fun and honest tête-à-tête below.
Amon Warmann: Obviously The Fault in Our Stars is based on a book, and you’ve got The Stand and Paper Towns coming up which are also based on books. Would you ever consider doing adaptations such as these without having read the books beforehand?
Nat Wolff: That’s a good one…No, I don’t think so. A lot of times the script is really good and is the thing that is your bible for the movie. But the book usually gives you context. The script was amazing and that’s the first thing I read, but the book helped me because I only have a certain amount of scenes in the movie and the book gave me context to where I am in different scenes that came before and after. The book is almost like a cheat sheet that gives you tons of information. But…I’m not going to say which but I have done a movie where I didn’t read the book and I was told not to read the book because it was so different from the script.
AW: Interesting…You mentioned that you read the book; is there any scene which you shot but didn’t make the final cut, or any scene which you would have liked to have shot but didn’t?
NW: Yeah…There were scenes that I know Ansel and Shae shot. There was a great scene in the back of the ambulance that I know didn’t make it because it was just time. I did a scene in the hospital where Shae comes to visit me and it was fun doing that scene with Shae but it also didn’t make it…who knows, maybe they were bad? I’m really good friends with Josh [Boone] who directed and he basically said the movie was long and obviously things need to be cut, but about 98% of the stuff that I’m in is in the movie. And I actually thought once we finished wrapping “I wonder if I’m gonna get cut out of this movie!” [Laughs]
THE FOLLOWING QUESTION CONTAINS SPOILERS
AW: [Laughs] Never that! You’re responsible for a lot of the levity in this movie, but there are also a couple of really intense scenes too. When the director calls cut after an intense scene like the eulogy scene, what’s the immediate aftermath like?
NW: That scene particularly had a lot of weight because it was the last day of shooting and I really was saying goodbye to Ansel and Shae and the whole crew whom I had grown to love, so that scene almost felt weirdly real. That was the scene that got me in the script and in the book, the idea of giving a eulogy to someone that’s still alive…everybody kind of wants that you know. It was just upsetting. I’m not somebody who clicks in and clicks out really easily. For me I’ve got to rev myself into something and it takes me a while to rev out.
AW: How long did it take you to rev in and out of that scene?
NW: I know I had a little panic attack before doing it. I started crying before doing it because I was nervous. I took two Advil from the medic and I was convinced that he gave me the wrong pill, that he had given me some kind of Oxycontin or something, that I was just high out of my mind because I was nervous and it made me feel crazy! But that’s what you want. When you’re picking and auditioning for movies you wanna do stuff that’s gonna make you go crazy because you care so much about it and it’s nerve-wracking, or you’ll just get too complacent.
AW: The film is told from Hazel Grace’s perspective, so all we know about Isaac is through her. Is there anything that you would like to know about Isaac that we didn’t get to know because Hazel didn’t see it?
NW: I think I’d want to know about his relationship with his parents. I know in the book he’s getting walked around by his Mom, but maybe it would be good to see what happens, how his parents deal with him going blind, and maybe a little bit more with Monica. I might wanna see Monica’s side of the story too. When I was talking to the real blind guy that I met with for this movie, I told him about the girl dumping me in the movie and he said “that’s hard for a high-school girl to take that on”, and that was interesting because you can understand where she’s coming from.
AW: There’s enough for a spin-off there…
NW: Right! Part 2 [Laughs]…
AW: I’m sure that having the author [John Green] around was really helpful. Was there any particular scene that you asked John about when you were filming?
NW: Yeah, it was during the eulogy scene when I was upset and he was giving me some good pointers. Usually what we got from John was just a lot of positive reinforcement and I like that. If I feel like somebody likes where I’m headed then I feel like I can go farther. There’s a lot of pressure put on you if it’s a best-selling book, so the idea that John was happy meant all these kids who loved the book would be happy.
AW: I know that you are a musician as well as an actor. Did you have any talks with Josh about the music that was going to be used?
NW: I got in trouble because I straight-up lied in an interview. It was at a time when the soundtrack just came out and I didn’t know who was on the soundtrack yet. So they asked me did you have anything to do with it and I said “Yeah, Josh and I love M83” and Josh was like “Dude, you had nothing to do with why I put M83 in the movie!” [Laughs]
I do love M83 but I didn’t have anything to do with the soundtrack. Josh made me a playlist right before I started shooting the movie and he called it ‘Isaac’s Bummer Mix’, so it’s basically all the songs to listen to when you’re down and there’s a couple from the movie on there so I had a good feeling of where it was going. A lot of the playlist was just Bob Dylan and really angry Elvis Costello.
AW: I wanted to ask about the trophy smashing scene; how many takes did you do?
NW: Well the first take we did they gave me five different points I had to smash the trophies on. Four hours passed before we shot the scene and by the time we did the scene I was just banging the trophies wherever. Then they came down and gave me evil looks, so then I start smashing it in the right place but at that point it was never as good as it was in the first take. One time I smashed one of the trophies and Shae and Ansel were off-camera wearing goggles, and the trophy hit Shae’s goggle. So if she wasn’t wearing goggles…
AW: Did you keep anything from the set of this film, and do you keep anything from sets in general?
NW: A lot of times I like to keep stuff. We were in an interview and Shae was like “I kept a couple of Gus’ shirts” and I was like “so did I!” They had a piece of a trophy I kept. I lose everything though!
AW: This movie has gotten a lot of well-deserved attention. What has this done for your career moving forward?
NW: It’s just so exciting that a movie that I’m really proud of is the most successful movie I’ve ever been in. There’s a lot of actors and people I know and that’s not how it goes. I guess in my career, I just noticed that people want me in their movies more now that I’m in a big hit movie, and I’m so lucky to be in that position.
AW: Congrats on the film and thanks for your time today.
NW: Thanks, great questions!
The Fault in Our Stars is out in UK cinemas now.
This interview was originally published at DIY Mag.