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Shailene Woodley was desperate to play teenage cancer sufferer

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May 04, 2014 | 6:07pm EDT

Shailene Woodley was so desperate to play teenage cancer sufferer Hazel Grace Lancaster in the movie adaptation of John Green's novel The Fault In Our Stars she wrote a 13,000-word essay to the author campaigning for the role. The actress loved Green's novel and got hold of an early draft of the script for the film and decided she had to be a part of it - but her enthusiasm initially turned director Josh Boone off. Convinced that, at 22, the Divergent star was too old to play the teenage lead in his film, Boone considered over 200 other young actresses before agreeing to fly to Chicago, Illinois to meet with Woodley as she filmed Divergent last year (13). The director tells Entertainment Weekly, "I liked her a lot personally, but I still didn't think she was Hazel." But then Woodley auditioned for him and he adds, "Within about two minutes, I knew it was going to be her. I was on the floor. I thought, 'Why am I fighting this? There's nobody better than her. She's awesome'." Green agreed when he saw the audition on tape: "I suddenly was in a blind panic, jumping on the phone and screaming, 'We must lock this down! It has to be Shailene Woodley! She is Hazel!'" And the author feels sure that fans of the book will agree with him that Boone cast the perfect Hazel and Gus in Woodley and Ansel Elgort when the film opens this summer (14). He adds, "Shailene has become Hazel to me. Ansel has become Gus. To see things I wrote, to hear them in their voices... It's been beyond my wildest imagination."

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