The heart of “Paper Towns” rests in its depictions of friendship and its accompanying adventures, mysteries and even the aggravations that pull young people together at a significant point in their lives. Q, Ben and Radar are the best of friends. Their circle of friendship grows with Margo’s disappearance. As Green explains, “Q, Ben and Radar are extremely tight but as their high school years come to a close, they grapple with the fact that their friendship is soon going to be different.”
“There’s a real connection between these friends, and so the humor between them feels lived in and real,” adds Schreier. “Ben is this nerdy kid who desperately wants to have a girlfriend but has no idea how to go about getting one,” says Austin Abrams, who takes on the role. “Like the other characters, he undergoes big changes in his thinking about girls, and realizes that a girl he’s long had a crush on, Lacey, is not only pretty, she’s actually very cool and sweet.”
For the part of Radar, the filmmaker cast newcomer Justice Smith. “Radar is a really sweet kid who plays saxophone in the high school band,” says Smith. “He’s a little afraid of bringing his girlfriend Angela to his home because his parents own the world’s largest collection of black Santas. He’s very embarrassed that his house has, you know, like, 4,200 black Santas in it.”
Green uses that story element as a mirror to Q’s initial, superficial view of Margo. “It’s ludicrous how monolithically we imagine Santa,” he points out. “And there’s a moment in the story when Angela, upon learning of this unique collection, says, ‘I think it’s really cool that your parents are helping to make Santa more complex.’”
Rounding out the cast are Halston Sage as Lacey, and Jaz Sinclair as Angela. John Green explains the characters’ special strengths. “Lacey Pemberton is blonde and bubbly and people make all of these assumptions about her. And the character Angela is really the most grounded in the movie,” Green continues. “She doesn’t have it all figured out, either, but at critical moments she takes control.”
All the characters share this critical factor of being relatable, thanks to John Green’s unique voice and ability to create young protagonists that are real, caring, and multidimensional. Nat Wolff says, “Paper Towns is funny, romantic and, yes, real. It reminds me so much of my friends in high school and so much of girls I’ve been in love with and it’s all so close, it’s scary.”
Ride on your ultimate journey with friends when “Paper Towns” open this July 22 in theatres nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.
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