A fun close encounter with a Fault star

Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Hollywood roundtables can be a lot of fun sometimes. Consider my roundtable interview with The Fault in Our Stars heartthrob Ansel Elgort recently. There were about six other journalists with me in the roundtable. There was someone from Russia, who coincidentally was a cancer survivor herself, one from France, another from Germany. And there was one lady from Brazil who was writing for a fashion magazine. Imagine the kind of questions the journalist from Brazil had in between questions about Ansel’s thoughts on love, friendship and death. It’s a credit to the 20-year-old actor for navigating quite impressively the jumbled questions being thrown at him.

Here’s a sample of how much fun we had during that interview in early April held at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.

It was towards the end of our 20-minute interview and Ansel was telling us how much he admired the actor who acted as his leg double in the film and how he influenced the way he shaped his character Gus. “He’s 17 and he has a lot of pride. He was buffed, works out a lot. He lost his leg in a hunting accident not through cancer but he still goes hunting. He still does everything he used to do and more. He’s very proud to be a prosthetic-user and I think that was very important. He was inspiring to me because I think that’s the thing! It shouldn’t be too emotional, shouldn’t be too depressing. It should be positive.” The boy ended up becoming his friend and he repeated to us what the boy would usually exclaim on the set. “I am part-cyborg now!”

Cue in the Brazilian journalist.

“To change the subject,” she interjected, “we admired your muscles in your naked scenes, (everyone burst into a huge welcome laughter at this) how do you keep fit?”

Ansel blushed. (You know he’s a newcomer because he pauses and blushes a lot during the interview.) “Thank you,” he replied shyly. “I rock climb and I play basketball and I box,” he added.

The journalist from Russia then asked if he still dances. “I don’t dance ballet anymore,” he said. Earlier in the interview, Ansel shared with us how he used to dance ballet (from age nine to 15) and how through ballet he discovered girls.

So, yes, the interview covered many areas including Ansel’s parallel career as a deejay and his dreams of one day doing scores for films and writing and producing music through his DJ Ansolo brand.

Shailene Woodley, the actor’s leading lady in the movie, was right when she told us during our separate interview with her that Ansel would delight us the same way she was delighted by him.

“He’s such a light and you’ll see it when you see him,” she gushed. “He’s so pure!”

At the start of our interview, I told Ansel that Shailene adores him. “Oh, that’s so nice,” was his quick reply. “I don’t feel the same way,” he joked before adding, “No. I like her a lot, too.”

He initially couldn’t focus on our questions because his attention shifted to the movie editions of the novel that had him and Shailene on the cover. “It’s pretty crazy to have your face on the cover of a book,” he exclaimed. “It’s amazing!”

The Russian journalist suggested that maybe he could sign them. He immediately agreed. I immediately took out my copy of the book and had him sign it, too. We lost about two minutes of our allotted interview time with him but it was a refreshing sight to see a Hollywood actor that’s on the verge of becoming one of the biggest stars of the year excited to sign autographs! Shailene was truly right!

“I am surprised,” he managed to say after I asked him what he feels now that his fans are multiplying by the thousands every day on account of his role in a movie that is essentially just his third outing (he was in the remake of Carrie last year and was in Divergent this year). “It’s fun. It’s crazy! Yesterday, I had 35,000 more followers! Wow!”

You will be surprised what goes on in the mind of this young man when he starts considering what good he could do with the fame that might come his way. “Once I have a big fan base, I want to do really good things for the world. Think about what if, let’s say, I went to an awards show and my guest — the seat with me — was auctioned off and the money goes to charity, who knows how much money you could raise!”

Yes, he is quite a guy. No wonder many fans of the book who have fallen in love with Augustus Waters have also fallen in love with him. Gus, in the book, is a thoughtful friend who is scared of oblivion, of dying without leaving the world something to remember him by, until he meets Hazel who becomes his best friend and helps him change his perspective on life and death, of the inevitability of oblivion.

But do guys like Gus exist in real life?

“I think so,” he replied.

Did he find anything in Gus that related to him?

“There’s a person in my life who I have been with for a while and it’s the same kind of thing,” he revealed. “It’s a best friend kind of a relationship. That’s important. I am a little bit of an idealist. I want to do great things and leave my mark. I am only 20 now so I can understand why Gus is somewhat devastated when he realized that he’s going to die and he says, ‘I haven’t done anything.’”

“I can understand that because, if someone would tell me I would die now, I would be very upset because there’s so many things that I want to do!”

The Fault in Our Stars is a movie that celebrates not just love but also that kind of true friendship that transcends illnesses and even death. So I had to ask Ansel what kind of a friend is he to his best friends.

“I have only a few friends because I like quality not quantity,” he said. “My best friend, I’ve been best friends with since pre-school and we do everything together. He’s kind of like my partner-in-crime, my best friend. And then I have another best friend and I have my roommate who’s a very good friend of mine.”

Nat Wolff, who plays his best friend Isaac in the movie, is one of his closest friends, too.

This is the first part of the interview when you just thank the heavens you had the Brazilian journalist on the same roundtable with you.

Ansel was still in the middle of telling us who his best friends were when she asked this question:

“Do you have women friends?”

The actor blushed and very slowly answered, “Yes, I have women friends.”

“And lovers?” the Brazilian journalist continued.

The roundtable erupted in nervous laughter.

“Yeah,” Ansel struggled to answer. “I consider her my best friend.”

“Like a lover?” the Brazilian insisted.

“Yeah, my best friend,” Ansel was adamant.

“A fiancée?” the Brazilian asked some more.

“No, I don’t have a fiancée,” Ansel replied.

And the Brazilian was on a roll. “You are dressed very nicely, congratulations!” she asked before segueing to her fashion-magazine questions.

It was a fun interview!

And to the girls who have a deep crush on him, this writer did not forget about you. I did ask Ansel what his ideal girl was and he was quick to answer, “I like ballet dancers a lot.”

“I like someone who is very passionate about something,” he added. “Intelligent is good. It helps because if you’re going to be best friends with someone it’s nice if they are intelligent because then you can talk about anything and I want someone to be very nice, and sweet and kind to everyone. But the most important thing is, they have a passion because I am obsessed with them and I spend a lot of time…”

His ideal girl doesn’t have to share his passions. “They can have their own passion. I think that’s important, too. Something interesting, too, then you talk about it and it’s not like something, you know, you spent the whole day doing.”

The Fault in Our Stars opens in theaters on June 5. Watch it. Bring a box of Kleenex.

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