Filmmaker Josh Boone Talks ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ And The Art Of Growing Up [Exclusive]
Director-Writer Josh Boone has already leaped past expectations one might pigeonhole a new filmmaker to. For his first outing, he tells an emotionally earnest story about the awkwardly painful experience of growing up under the cloud of his parents’ messy relationship.
The result of that is Stuck In Love, a rich romantic comedy that centers on a family of writers, who are fixated on both the actual act of writing and the work of living out truthful and somewhat painstaking experiences. The elements of what makes a family unique jump from the page with a stellar cast including experienced vets Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly, Kristen Bell, and promising actors Nat Wolff, Liana Liberato, Lily Collins, and Logan Lerman.
Boone swiftly captures the truth that exists on all sides of relationships across each spectrum of generations, and how relative they all are to each other. What’s most surprising about the film was Boone’s instinctive expertise on weaving each unique story for a well-rounded and hopeful film that deals with first loves, second chances, and surviving difficult vices.
With classic films as his personal syllabus, Boone shows that he has legs to run on and a knowledge that makes him a solid yet fresh voice as a filmmaker. If Stuck In Love is any indication of what he can do, his next project directing the novel adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars should be something to look forward to.
The Inquisitr’s Niki Cruz sat down with director-writer Josh Boone to discuss his influences, The Fault In Our Stars, and what it feels like to grow up.
THE INQUISITR: How did Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly come around to the project?
JOSH BOONE: I still really can’t believe it. I was around the Fox lot the other day standing around, and I said, “How did I get here?” It’s still very unbelievable. I was just really lucky to get that cast. They’re incredible actors. I had no right to have them in my first movie [LAUGHS]. I could talk to them about my life. When an actor’s acting you want them to be vulnerable for you, but when I met them for the first time, I told them all of my personal stories and I was vulnerable with them. It made them more willingly to do that for me. The only reason why I could get this movie made is because it was autobiographical and I could actually say, I’m the best person to do this because it’s my life.
THE INQUISITR: Did you learn anything from working with your actors?
BOONE: Jennifer and Greg were so experienced and they were able to bring a lot to the table. In the original script Jennifer never came to the book party and had that face to face with Lily. She said “I love this role and I love these characters, but can I do something more with this character?” And now when you watch the movie you can’t imagine her not coming to the book party. They brought their feeling for what works and what doesn’t.
THE INQUISITR: Since this film is driven by passion of expressing oneself from an honest place, was there anything you wrote that felt too vulnerable or honest to include in the script?
BOONE: No I just tried to be really sincere when I wrote it. I love Cameron Crowe movies that are very earnest and heartfelt. It was the right theme for this, because Nat [Wolff] plays very much of who I was when I was in high school, and had a similar relationship I had with a girl. I based it a little bit on my parents divorce, and on my sister. I put a bunch of things together that happened to me that I was thinking about so I could make sense of them.
THE INQUISITR: Cameron Crowe focuses a lot on the music that frames the film. Were you thinking about that too?
BOONE: I worked at a record store for years. I’ve been obsessed with music, and listen to it all the time. I had written most of the songs that were in the movie, into the script. Bright Eyes was my favorite band so I went and tried to go get them to score the movie. Then I got a song from Justin Vernon. Everything just worked out. I got everything I could have wanted. I even got Stephen King in there.
THE INQUISITR: So Stephen King is your favorite author?
BOONE: Oh yeah! I loved It and the Dark Towers series. That was my Harry Potter as a kid. All I did growing up was read books. I didn’t have a family that watched sports, so I didn’t watch sports. My dad read all the time. Everything was books. I still remember being in his office at four or five, looking at these Stephen King paperbacks on the shelves and they just kind of grabbed me when I was young.
THE INQUISITR: Because the material is so close to home for you, were you afraid of the script changing?
BOONE: No I wanted it to. I told the actors that I lived with it for a couple of years. If we just shot what I wrote, I would have been really bummed. I wanted everyone to bring something to the table so it could be theirs as much as mine. I wasn’t a dictator about the script. I didn’t mind if anyone changed a line, as long as the intention was correct.
THE INQUISITR: As far as screenwriters is there anyone you look up to?
BOONE: Oh God. I love Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Cameron Crowe, and Woody Allen. I’m a movie nerd. I grew up listening to DVD commentaries, and laser disc commentaries. My film school was my DVDs. I inundated myself as a teen. It was my life. The only thing I cared about was making movies. It was this or flipping burgers. I’m just not good for anything else.
THE INQUISITR: Is there a certain era of films that you really love?
BOONE: My dad had this collection of beta tapes, which was before VHS, and he had Cuckoo’s Nest, and Carnal Knowledge. I was watching those when I was way too young. My parents would go out and I’d pop one in. I love Jack Nicholson movies from the 70s.
THE INQUISITR: Since this was your first feature, did you come away with a new experience?
BOONE: Yeah! It was the most amazing experience of my life. I had two babies that year. I had a daughter six months before, and then I had my first movie. It was the most whirlwind year of my life. It was a magical, amazing, and an incredible experience.
THE INQUISITR: Something that’s really exciting is that you have The Fault In Our Stars coming up. How did that come to be?
BOONE: Yeah I still can’t believe I got it. A company called Temple Hill owned the book and brought it to Fox Searchlight. Fox Searchlight hired the guys that wrote 500 Days of Summer to adapt it, and then they started meeting with directors. I still can’t believe I get to go make it. They just really liked my version of that movie. They liked what I came and said I was going to do with it, so we’re going to start shooting on August 26. The book is just so important to so many people that I want to make sure it’s as truthful as it can be.
THE INQUISITR: Both Stuck In Love and your next project deal with pretty sensitive subjects with teens. Do you feel pulled towards youth?
BOONE: I still feel young. I don’t think anyone ever truly grows up and I think that’s what Stuck In Love is about too. It’s a coming of age story for the parents as much as it is for the kids. I feel you get up and look in the mirror, and you go to work, and you still kind of feel like you’re just pretending to be an adult. I think it’s a feeling a lot of people have. That’s the feeling I have most of the time. I still feel like that kid in high school.
THE INQUISITR: Do you see yourself as a director or a writer? And does one job reflect the other?
BOONE: Once you write the script I’m almost never the writer again. Once you’re the director, you kind of hate the writer, and you’re like ‘Who the f—k wrote this?’ I don’t enjoy writing. Writing is very difficult; it’s lonely and isolating. The time you spend dreaming about the script, like when you’re in your car just thinking about the characters, that stuff I really enjoy. Actually writing is just the worst. You want to write yourself out of that room. On The Fault In Our Stars I was so happy because I didn’t have to go off and do the hard part. I just get to go make the movie!
THE INQUISITR: When you wrote Stuck In Love did you write it with your family in mind?
BOONE: I didn’t have specific actors in mind. I do when I write other scripts but I did think about my family. Jennifer and Greg aren’t really playing my mom and dad they’re playing some of the details of my parents divorce, and I just changed things around to protect the innocent or the guilty. I love movies about writers because I relate to them. I thought it would give an interesting dynamic between the parents and the siblings. Hopefully someone watches it and picks up a book.
THE INQUISITR: So in a way your whole life was research for this film in a way.
BOONE: Yeah I think it was. I just researched so I can tell stories and make movies. The only thing I’ve loved in my life was music, movies, and books. It’s the only thing I wanted to do.
STUCK IN LOVE HITS THEATERS ON JULY 5.