'The Fault in Our Stars' Actresses on Tackling Emotional Film

Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern talk about why the popular book drew them to the movie adaption.
6:48 | 05/23/14

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Transcript for 'The Fault in Our Stars' Actresses on Tackling Emotional Film
Hollywood's newest it girl, shailene Woodley, has many talents. She's an action hero, a red carpet regular, and the star of what may be the summer teen blockbuster, "The fault in our stars." And as you're about to see, she's quite the character in person herself. Here's ABC's Chris Connelly. Reporter: "The fault in our stars" features rising star shailene Woodley. As hazel grace Lancaster. Hazel has cancer. Her 16-year-old body kept alive by an experimental drug regimen. Doctor's appointments. Worst of all, support group. ? away from her care-giving parents, hazel meets Gus. Hi. Reporter: A chilled-out pixie dreamboat with his own cancer story to show and tell. I've been in remission for about a year and a half. Maybe you'd like to share some of your feelings. Oblivion. Reporter: Their post-adolescent ironic attachment quickly succumbs to the earnestness of young love. Why are you looking at me like that? Because you're beautiful. Reporter: Even as they are besieged by mortality. And the audience is besieged by the desperate need for a tissue. And I know that love is just a shout into the void and that oblivion is inevitable. And I am -- Reporter: "The fault in our stars" is based on John green's 2012 novel that sold 10 million copies and inspired devotion among its mostly young, mostly female readers. And now 22-year-old Woodley was one of those readers. I didn't want to be like look how I can cry as an actor, look what I can do. I wanted to do this because this book changed my life. This movie is incredibly sad and intere incredibly heartbreaking but it's so celebratory. I mean, it celebrates life. We can't help but fall in love with her but also relate to her longing for love. You're trying to keep your distance from me in no way lessens my affection four. I'm a grenade. One day I'm going to blow up. Reporter: Before getting cast as her mother laura Dern was also a believer. Drawn in by how compelling she was in the first person singular. In a city that's famous for vice and debauchery is totally fine for you? Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I'm saying. My only goal is how do I support a vision as impactful to me in a narration voice as when I first read "Catcher in the rye." I think he captured the voice of a generation. We have a choice in this world in how to tell sad stories. On the one hand you can sugar coat it. Say nothing is foo messed up that it can't be fixed with a peter Gabriel song. That may sound like a dichlt ss of this famous scene from 1999's "Say anything." ? In your eyes ? Yet it's that same youthful authenticity that the fault in our stars seeks. I like that version just as much as the nice girl does. It's just not the truth. Reporter: A film that dispenses with the wizards, the tributes, and the vampires through which teen romance has been depicted on screen in the 21st century. These are teenagers. Yes, they do have cancer, but they're also going through Normal things that Normal teenagers are going through. Give me a fake I.D. They go to clubs and take pot. I don't take pot. That is the kind of thing I would know with a fake I.D. Born and raised in the L.A. Area, Woodley was just 16 herself when she was cast in the ABC family series "The secret life of the American teenager." I have to call the cops, Ricky. Reporter: A string of successes followed. Her big break in features starting with 2011's "The descendants," direct bid Alexander Payne, in which she played George Clooney's daughter. I'm angry at her. When shay started making that movie, Alexander Payne called me going, you're not going to believe this, this girl, the way she uses her limbs reminds me of you. You guys are so alike. Reporter: Superb in the indy "The spectacular now." She then started her first franchise film "Divergent." What do you look for in projects that enable you to keep choosing these interesting stories? Anything that gives me butterflies. When I read a script, I know immediately intuitively whether it's something I want to fight for. Oh, my god. Reporter: Woodley chopped off her hair, apparently lost some weight, and seems to have savored the film's Pittsburgh to Amsterdam shoot. Nobody was there to become that awful, quote unquote, word famous. Everyone's there because they loved the book and they loved the story. What's so awful about wanting to be famous? I just don't really like that word. I think it's a strange word. Reporter: On the red carpet she is a woodland sprite in couture, greeting(< with a warm hug. She says she draws her own spring water, makes her own toothpaste, eats clay. It's a way, way back to nature lifestyle spurred by her time in Hawaii. Oh! I was connected to nature for a long time. But being in Hawaii, there's a different energy there. She's like Miranda in "The tempest." You just hope the world is as kind to her as she is kind to it. And inevitably, it never is, is it? But she's wise enough to seek out those who will match her. Reporter: Laura Dern knows what it's like to survive as a young actress in the spotlight. I think the wildest time was the film "Rambling rose" and the film "Wild at heart." Like a big secret you've been carrying. A couple of years where I was the siren or the very sexy femme fatal. Reporter: Dern would go on to "Jurassic park." Woodley's part was trimmed from "The amazing spider-man 2." Apart from blockbusters they each began their career with work for director Joyce Chopra. I came out of the bathroom stall sxand I said -- that was it. The director told me to hit the third white tile on the right. I come out of the stall and I don't hit the mark. I'm shuffling my feet over. And they used it in the movie. I was going to make my mark, and I did. Reporter: 16 years later, thanks in large part to these two actresses, this movie's emotional wallop should make its mark. And if some say this is shailene Woodley's big year, she sees it a little differently. It's the year of the horse, man. Year of freedom. Year of strength, playing, get out there, have fun. Last year was the year of the snake, shedding some stuff. But this year is fun. Okay. Reporter: I'm Chris Connelly for "Nightline" in Los Angeles. She definitely looks like she's having fun. And "The fault in our stars" will be in movie theaters on June 6th.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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