While folks on the internet have spent the last year fantasy casting Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, the role I’ve been on pins and needles about is Augustus Waters in John Green’s brilliant novel The Fault in Our Stars. And now we know who will fill Gus’ lanky shoes — Ansel Elgort.
Easily my favorite novel of 2012, The Fault in Our Stars is the warm, funny and heartbreaking story of Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet in a support group for cancer survivors. These characters are so fully realized in the novel, they leap off the page. That Hollywood decided to make a film version of the book is a no-brainer; finding young actors who could bring these amazing human beings to life would seem to be a much more difficult challenge.
When Shailene Woodley, the gifted young actress who held her own against George Clooney in The Descendants a couple of years ago, was announced as Hazel, I breathed a sigh of relief. Though it’s a beast of a role, I feel confident she’ll be able to handle Hazel’s sarcasm, her humor, her fear, and her warmth. But in many ways Augustus is an even more complex character. The actor who plays him has to be young enough to believably portray a teenager; handsome, athletic and sexy enough to stop Hazel dead in her tracks; witty and charming enough to make Hazel (and the audience) fall in love with him; and have enough depth to convey the sorrow of a young man who has struggled with a disease that has taken his leg and may possibly take his life. Who could possibly rise to this challenge?
Apparently, those making this film, including director Josh Boone, think Ansel Elgort can. Elgort has not yet been in a film that has been released — his IMDB page lists just two credits, the upcoming Carrie and Divergent — so I can’t possibly judge whether he has the chops to pull off this almost impossibly difficult role. And I am bracing myself for some disappointment, as this is a character who made me laugh and made me cry and who, through Hazel’s eyes, I fell head over heels in love with. It provides some confidence that John Green tweeted a few days ago that Elgort was “astonishingly talented.” On his tumblr page Green wrote “When he auditioned, he became Augustus. Watching him audition with Shailene, he was just Gus and she was just Hazel. He understood Gus, and clearly had a very deep and thoughtful relationship with the book.” Elgort himself confirmed this, tweeting, “The Fault in Our Stars is my absolute favorite book. I’m so honored to be a part of this.”
That’s a start. The hard work lies ahead. The part of a lifetime lies in your hands, Ansel Elgort. Don’t screw it up.