John Green’s ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ To the Screen By Hannah

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Hannah Marks discovered her passion for acting at the age of six, inspired by her mother’s love for the craft. Since then, she has been fully immersed in a whirlwind of work, embracing notable roles in films such as “Accepted” and “The Runaways,” along with her standout performance in ” Nevertheless, during rare breaks, she confesses to occasionally squeezing in self-tape recordings to further her craft.

Addition to her accomplishments on screen, Hannah Marks has ventured into filmmaking, making a significant impact behind the camera. Her directorial debut came with “After Everything,” a compelling indie film that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2018. This touching film starred Jeremy Allen White as a young man facing bone cancer while navigating a new relationship.

The peak of her directing career thus far was landing the opportunity to helm the film adaptation of John Green’s beloved novel, “Turtles All the Way Down,” in the same year. This story delves into the life of Aza, a teenager grappling with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, portrayed by Isabela Merced. Hannah’s direction beautifully captures the complexities of Aza’s mind, intertwined with themes of young love and the power of friendship.

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic and other obstacles, “Turtles All the Way Down” finally makes its debut today, a testament to perseverance and dedication. Hannah’s film authentically portrays Aza’s struggles, while also incorporating the excitement of young romance and the strength of female bonds. It’s a delicate balancing act that Hannah accomplishes with heart and surprising humor.

In a recent interview with Variety, Hannah Marks reflected on this extensive experience and expressed excitement for what lies ahead in her promising career.

John Green’s ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ To the Screen By Hannah
John Green’s ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ To the Screen By Hannah

She credits Saoirse Ronan and Ariana Grande for her success.


Securing the directorial role for “Turtles All the Way Down” proved to be a challenging six-month endeavor for Hannah Marks, who openly admits to facing the typical struggles of someone at the start of their filmmaking career. In her pursuit of this opportunity, Marks meticulously crafted a compelling presentation that included a speech, a visual mood board, and even a fabricated trailer using clips sourced from YouTube.

Reflecting on her approach, Marks humorously recalls using footage of Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet sharing intimate moments to capture the essence of the heartfelt scenes she envisioned for the film. Additionally, she effectively conveyed her creative vision for Aza’s obsessive thought patterns through the use of microscopic imagery accompanied by staticky sounds. To balance the depth of these visuals, Marks juxtaposed them with lively pop music, drawing inspiration from Ariana Grande’s “Breathin,” which had recently been released and served as the foundation for her trailer.

Looking back, Marks remarks that the trailer created in 2018 surprisingly resonates with the essence of the final film. While the specifics of visuals and music naturally evolved, the underlying spirit and essence she envisioned remained remarkably consistent throughout the creative process.

Marks, like everyone, is a “Succession” fan

In “Turtles All the Way Down,” Hannah Marks brings together a talented ensemble that includes seasoned actors like J. Smith-Cameron, known for her role as Gerri Kellman on “Succession” and a two-time Emmy nominee. Cameron portrays a professor whom Aza admires and shares a crucial scene elaborating on the film’s title.

Marks openly expresses her deep admiration for J. Smith-Cameron, confessing with a chuckle, “I’m a die-hard ‘Succession’ fan, and I wanted Gerri from the very beginning for this role.” Marks reached out to Cameron with a heartfelt letter expressing her fandom and inviting her to deliver the film’s title line. She describes Cameron as sharp, warm, funny, and profound—qualities that perfectly suit the character.

Another notable presence in the film is Judy Reyes, who plays Aza’s mother. Reyes, also known for her role on “Succession,” raises questions about whether her connection to the show influenced her casting. Marks laughs and explains, “No, Judy had an impressive reel showcasing her versatility across genres and mediums—I was thrilled to have her.” She adds, “But I won’t deny that her association with ‘Succession’ didn’t hurt!”
The combination of seasoned actors like Smith-Cameron and Reyes, along with up-and-coming talents, adds depth and richness to the ensemble cast of the film.

As an actor, she understands the struggle

 

Hannah Marks, having navigated auditions from both sides as an actor and filmmaker, emphasizes the myriad of factors that significantly influence casting decisions. We reviewed heaps of auditions for ‘Turtles,’ and every actor demonstrated remarkable skill. Ultimately, casting boils down to finding the right fit among all the interconnected aspects of a production.”

Marks encourages actors to stay true to themselves when entering audition rooms. “No two people interpret a role the same way,” she notes. Reflecting on her own journey as an actor, Marks discovered that her unique qualities—her appearance, life experiences, and personal baggage—naturally set her apart. “Just be yourself,” she advises.

As someone who values personal connection, Marks looks forward to a return to more in-person auditions in the industry. While Zoom auditions offer access to talent worldwide, Marks acknowledges the emotional toll of submitting audition tapes into a digital void without feedback. ” “It’s challenging for actors not knowing if their work was even viewed,” she sympathizes. The return to face-to-face interactions would not only provide actors with more immediate feedback but also foster a deeper sense of community within the industry.

She’s also a John Green fan… like everyone

 

John Green, the acclaimed author behind beloved novels like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” has openly shared the profound significance of “Turtles All the Way Down,” drawing from his own experiences with mental health challenges. As a producer on the film, Green was deeply involved and actively engaged on set—a presence that might have been intimidating for many, but not for Hannah Marks.

Reflecting on working closely with Green, Marks admits that her biggest challenge was containing her excitement and resisting the urge to “fangirl” over the esteemed author. Despite her admiration, Marks found Green to be incredibly generous and supportive, allowing her creative vision to take the lead. ”

 

As the film’s release date approaches, Marks eagerly anticipates celebrating with John Green. ” One of the most treasured aspects for me is being able to plan outings and celebrations with John because of this

. The idea of forming a friendship with someone she has long admired continues to astonish Marks, reflecting the profound impact that this collaboration has had on her personally and professionally.

 

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