Last Thursday, May 8, The Fault in Our Stars cast members, including Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff, plus author John Green, came to War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., as part of the Demand Our Stars promotion, which allowed fans to vote on which cities Green and company would visit. Four cities were chosen as the winners for the tour, which spanned four days (May 6–9): Miami, Fla., Cleveland, Ohio, Nashville, Tenn., and Dallas, Tex. Fans turned out by the thousands to catch a sneak peek at one of the most anticipated book-to-film adaptations of the summer. “As an author, it was amazing to see the TFIOS event,” said Courtney Stevens, author of Faking Normal (HarperTeen) and a Nashville resident, one of several local SCBWI members in attendance. “This idea didn’t start on the big screen with movie stars; it started with words and hope and characters in the heart and mind of an author. There is hope in that for everyone who [undertakes] the creative process. Big dreams sometimes become big realities.”
Prior to the event, a line doubled around the auditorium as teenage readers, authors, and parents clutched their copies of John Green’s books, waiting for the stars to emerge. The auditorium held 2,000 fans, though many more showed up in hopes of catching a glimpse of the cast. The waiting fans could be overheard talking about how much they loved reading The Fault in Our Stars, what the book meant to them, which classes they tried to sneak-read the book in, and for one girl, how finishing the book in class and crying uncontrollably had resulted in being sent her to the guidance counselor’s office.
Before the stars walked the red carpet, Nat Wolff and his brother Alex, both musicians, treated fans already seated inside to an impromptu concert, cementing the festive tone and inspiring further screams from teenage girls. The enthusiasm only escalated as Green and cast took to the carpet at 7 p.m. There were screams, tears, cheers, and shrieks as soon as Green came into sight, signing books and chatting briefly with fans before being ushered inside.
Green was clearly the star of the show with his usual combination of charm and affability. “We all know the vlogger and social media guru. The truth is, John Green is an authentic and kind human being, every bit the gentleman I hoped he’d be,” said Nashville author and John Green fan David Arnold (Mosquitoland, Viking). Arnold noted of one of his favorite moments of the evening: “[Green] tripped on his way out to the stage, and rather than try to cover it up, he pretended to keep tripping.”
War Memorial Auditorium was at standing-room-only capacity, though no one seemed to mind. The sound on the video had to be increased to rise above the screaming fans, but it did little to diminish the cheering. Around 10 minutes of film and behind-the-scenes footage were aired, with beloved lines from the book interspersed with the scene it correlated with – like the origin of “Okay?” “Okay.”
Tears were a large part of the evening, with fans crying as they asked Green questions during his Q&A. Stevens said that one of her favorite moments during the night came when “I looked over as the movie clip began to play and saw a teen near me in tears. I loved how important this story is to her and how unabashedly she shared her passion. To remember that words can change the world, even one person at a time, is a powerful thing.”
Author Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (The 13th Sign, Feiwel and Friends) attended the event with her 16-year-old niece. Tubb’s favorite moments also came during the Q&A, when Ansel Elgort breakdanced for the crowd after an audience member asked if he had any hidden talents, and Green offered a poignant answer to a question from a fan. “One of the audience members asked John, ‘So, who was your John Green when you were growing up?’ It was a question that obviously meant a lot to him, based on his thoughtful pause,” Tubb said. “He responded that both Kurt Vonnegut and Toni Morrison were authors who influenced him. Afterward, I saw him wave to the teen who had asked the question and mouth, ‘Thank you.’ It showed me that it truly was a meaningful moment for him, and he took the time to appreciate the person who asked it.”
Tubb’s niece, Neale Grisham, shared what the event meant to her, perhaps summing up best what the crowd felt. “It was one of the best nights of my life! I’m a big fan of John Green. He seems like such a fascinating person, and the whole room was in awe of him the entire night. From the clips we got to see, I think the movie will be about as good as the book, and the movie of the year!”