Local cancer survivors give special meaning to ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

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AKRON, Ohio--The movie 'The Fault in Our Stars' will hit theaters across the country on Friday; the film is based on a best-selling book by author John Green.

The book and the film are about teenage cancer survivors who fall in love.

Those who have read the book say it is not about cancer; it is a love story.

The trailer for the movie alone already has more than 20-million views online and the movie is anticipated to be a box office hit this summer.

For the film, Green reached out to real-life cancer survivors to play roles in a cancer support group.

Alexis Hodges of Norton and C.J. Evans of McKinley High School were chosen to fill two of those roles.

"The support group is pretty much where Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) meet each other and they both pretty much don't like even going to it, but they meet each other and fall in love," said Hodges.

Hodges and Evans are both a part of an actual teenage cancer support group through Akron Children's Hospital which they say is very different from the support group in the movie.

"My teen support group is fun," said Hodges, adding, "I don't dread going to it. We go to Cedar Point; we go out to dinner. It's kind of like a family in a little way. We all get along really good."

It was a member of their support group that first brought the movie roles to their attention.

"I submitted the application not really expecting anything. I just did it because it took two minutes and then they called me back and I said, I guess I'm going to be in a movie," said Evans.

Both say what they appreciate about the movie is that it shows that people who have cancer also have real lives.

"There's more about them than just cancer, like they have a personality; they have hobbies; they like to go out and have fun with their friends; they are not always a person who is sick like before," said Hodges.

Both went to Pennsylvania to film the support group scenes and believe interacting with the starring actors helped the actors with their roles.

"As soon as I walked into like rehearsal they all came right up to me and introduced themselves and they were really nice and I got to eat lunch with them and then have a bunch of different conversations with them," said Hodges.

"I really had no idea what to expect and then there's ten different cameras and they film every little piece ten different times from a bunch of different angles and it takes several hours to film just a little bit of the movie," said Evans.

Dr. Laura Gerak is a psychologist who works along with the support group in Akron.

She believes people will leave theaters better understanding people who have cancer and other challenges in their lives.

"It really captured in the most pure form like the authentic journey and when I think of Hollywood or I think of books, I think of all the drama of it and it really wasn't like it, really boiled it right down to the core and I think that's what the teens bring. It's what they have gone through and their families have gone through and its huge how he captured that," said Gerak.

Hodges role is of a girl named Angel.

She says the character is not in the book but was created just for the movie.

Both Evans and Hodges have already seen the film and although their roles are small they say it was fun to be on the big screen.

"We all thought it was funny. Everyone in the theater sat through the credits and waited to see their name in the credits," said Hodges.

"It was cool. I mean I said I'm up there very briefly, a few times, but every time you could see it me and my mom and Lexi, too, all just pointing at the screen like, 'hey, I know him,'" said Evans.

Both say moviegoers should not expect to see a movie about cancer. The film is a love story.

"I think the message is appreciate the moment, like literally appreciate the things in life right here and now. It's not just about cancer but about anything; it's an amazing message," said Gerak.