Author John Green based the character Hazel on a young girl named Esther Earl who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Green met her during a Harry Potter convention in 2009 noticing her carrying an oxygen tank. He came to like her because of some of the videos she put up on YouTube as well as her humor and openness. From the time they met to her death at the age of 16 in 2010, Green and Earl would exchange correspondence.
Shailene Woodley wrote impassioned letters to author John Green and director Josh Boone. "If I'm passionate about something, I'll do everything I can to try to be a part of it," Woodley asserts. Although Green didn't initially picture Woodley for the part, he "was blown away" when she read for him. "We were all crying. It was actually sort of bad," he laughs. "But it was hers from that moment on."
Shailene Woodley insisted that her friend Ansel Elgort read not just the script but also the novel before his first meeting with the filmmakers. "I thought, 'If I tell her I haven't read it, she'll be mad during our audition and it would be a mess,'" Elgort recalls. "So I literally read it for Shailene".
In the book, Gus says that he was originally interested in Hazel because she looked like his ex-girlfriend, who died from a brain tumor. He explains that his ex was very mean to him (called him "stumpy," etc.) because she didn't know what she was saying (due to the tumor). In the movie, his ex is not mentioned.
Shailene Woodley cut her waist-long hair, which she needs for her role as Tris in Insurgent (2015), to a pageboy haircut and was not able to wear a wig. She donated the hair to a local childrens hospital that makes wigs for the kids.
Green added via Twitter about Shailene Woodley's audition for the role of Hazel, "There were so many amazing auditions for the role of Hazel, but Shailene's love for the book and her understanding of Hazel blew me away."
The Oranjee sequence was intended to be shot on location in Amsterdam and outdoors. Yet production designer Molly Hughes eventually decided to have a replica set built back in Pittsburgh as, during her location scout trip, she assessed that the constant poor weather in Amsterdam in mid-October would make it tough to film. Hughes and the filmmakers were also unable to obtain permission to film on location at the Anne Frank house. These location sets, as well as the interior entrance hallway of the Peter Van Houten house, were built on a sound-stage in Pittsburgh.
In the egg throwing scene, a street sign shows Eaton Drive. The house that received the thrown eggs is located at 1304 Summit Drive in the Pittsburgh suburb of Oakmont, opposite the T intersection with Eaton Drive.
John Green wrote the book The Fault In Our Stars, and it was inspired by Esther Grace Earl. The protagonist in the book/movie is Hazel Grace Lancaster. The middlename 'Grace' is take from the middle name of Esther Grace Earl.
(at around 1 min 36 sec) While Hazel and her mother are at the mall, on the table between them are two plastic giraffes humping. This may be an Easter egg for the nerdfighters, the name for vlogbrothers fans. The two giraffes refer to the fact that the vlogbrothers placed giraffe sex thumbnails on some of their videos even though they have nothing to do with the videos' content.
Lotte Verbeek, who plays Lidewij, is the only actual credited Dutch cast member. While a big part of the movie is set in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, most of her scenes (other than the exterior scenes) were filmed in Pittsburgh.
The scenes involving the Peter Van Houten home in Amsterdam were shot in 3 locations. The street exterior scenes with Hazel and Gus were actually filmed on Vondelstraat in Amsterdam including outside address 162. When the shot cuts to the door opening and the inside stairs and entryway are seen, this was a recreated set on a sound-stage in Pittsburgh. Once the characters are inside the living room of the house talking, these shots were filmed in a house in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.
Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek actually filmed most of her scenes in Pittsburgh as Pittsburgh doubled for many scenes set in Amsterdam. This would include the interior of Peter Van Houten house as well as the interior of the Anne Frank House. She returned to Pittsburgh a year later to work on "The Last Witch Hunter."
In the book, Augustus introduces Hazel to his favourite band The Hectic Glow and they listen to their music together. Even though this conversation is never shown in the movie, the band's poster can still be seen on the wall in Hazel's bedroom.
A scene in the book but absent in the film had Gus and his mother in a shouting match. This would have taken place just before Gus and Hazel were seen at the airport departing to Amsterdam. If this scene was included, it would have provided the earliest hint of Gus' cancer relapse.
When Hazel is in the ICU, her nails are painted a dark blue color (as mentioned by Gus in his eulogy letter at the end of the movie). However, when you are in the hospital, especially with breathing problems, you are not allowed to have your nails painted (so the oxygen saturation reader can pick up the oxygen levels through your nail). If you are rushed to the ER like Hazel was, they immediately take off the nail polish - at least one nail without nail polish is needed --index, middle or ring -- if not possible, your big toe's nail is used.
At a point of the movie, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) talks to Hazel about the Trolley Problem. Trolley Problem was presented by Philippa Foot in 1967, and it establishes the next situation: "There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead on the tracks there are five people tied up unable to move, and the trolley is headed straight for them. A man is standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If the man pulls this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks, but the man notices that there is one person on the side track. There is not the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). The man have two options: 1 - do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track, and 2 - pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. The doubt is which option is correct."
In Amsterdam, when Augustus Waters reveals that the cancer had relapsed and has spread like a 'Christmas Tree', he and Hazel were sitting on a bench on the side of a canal. It actually went missing some days after the shoot in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam city spokesman Stephan van der Hoek promised to install a new one.
The movie glosses over Augustus' condition towards the end, whereas in the book, Hazel is shown as being a larger part of his illness. For example, in one scene, Augustus is shown as being embarrassed over the fact that Hazel had seen him vomit and pee himself in bed.