Mike Birbiglia, who plays support group leader Patrick, recently sat down with HamptonRoads to talk about the TFIOS movie and Josh Boone (among other things). Check out parts of the interview below:
Q. You’re in the cast of “The Fault in Our Stars,” but given your schedule, have you actually had time to see the film yet?
A. Yeah, I have, and, knock on wood, I think it’s gonna live up to the hype. It’s a real tear-jerker. I cried and cried. Shailene (Woodley) is incredible, Ansel (Elgort) is great in it, and ... it’s just excellent. It’s a beautiful film.
Q. How did you end up being a part of it as a cancer therapy group leader? Did Josh come after you, or was it an audition?
A. It was a totally fluky thing. I’m a big fan of the screenwriters’ last film, “The Spectacular Now,” and I just tweeted about it all the time. A lot of times I’ll tweet about movies that I love that maybe won’t get the biggest audience, because as a filmmaker myself, I know that most of these small movies just don’t stand a chance against these big-budget studio films that basically have a $30 million marketing budget, so I’m just, like, “Well, I’ll try and send my Twitter followers to it!”
And the screenwriters (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber) really appreciated that, so they got in touch with me, and I moderated some Q&As with Michael. And then he was working on “The Fault in Our Stars” in Pittsburgh, and he was, like, “Hey, would you like to play this part? Because if this interests you ... .” And I read the book, I read the script right away, and I was, like, “Oh, yeah!” I mean, that’s right in my wheelhouse.
Q. And how did you enjoy working with our hometown boy, Josh Boone?
A. I think the coolest thing about Josh is that he really has this collaborative sense of, like, “Whatever you want to bring to the character, just show up with it, and then we’ll play with it. And if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” I’d never met him in person before working on the movie, but I talked to him on the phone, and as we were sort of feeling each other out, I was, like, “It says the character has a guitar. I play guitar a little bit. Do you want me to play guitar?” He said, “Yeah, you should play guitar!” “I could, like, write a little song for it.” “Yeah! Write a song!” And then I showed up, and I played this song, and ... it was just really ridiculous. (Laughs.) It was three chords or something. But he was, like, “That’s great!”
I like Josh a lot. I think he’s got a really light touch with his approach to film, which is exactly my aesthetic, and that’s the kind of person I like to work with. He’s a very, very kind person, a very generous director, and he never stresses people out. He’s never yelling at people. He’s very positive, and he’s very focused. I think he’s going to have a very long, illustrious career. I think he’s a real talent.