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How Hulu's Looking For Alaska Brought John Green's Best Novel to Life

What's it like to take on these characters?

Megan Vick

The vast majority of young-adult fiction fans are aware that Hulu's upcoming Looking for Alaska miniseries, about a group of kids at a boarding school who are attempting to find their "great perhaps," is based on the debut novel of the same name by John Green. What they might not know is that the miniseries was 14 years in the making.

Executive producer Josh Schwartz first read Looking for Alaska in 2005, before Green had officially published his debut novel or started his insanely popular YouTube channel. At the time, Schwartz was riding high on the success of The O.C. and was tasked with adopting Green's novel for the big screen, but due to studio politics the script never made it to production.

Afterward, Schwartz, along with his producing partner, Stephanie Savage, went on to make a little show called Gossip Girl, and then Marvel's Runaways, Dynasty, and Nancy Drew, justto name a few. Green, meanwhile, cultivated a massive YouTube audience and published three more books: An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars, the last of which became a best-seller and successfully got the movie treatment, followed shortly thereafter by Paper Towns.

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But the film studio wasn't ready to give up on Looking for Alaska, trying once more to make it work, though this time it was without Schwartz attached. Kristine Froseth (The Society) auditioned for the eponymous role, with Charlie Plummer as the book's central character, Miles. The film again didn't happen, but Schwartz hadn't lost interest. Amidst the rise of the limited series format, Schwartz went back to Green with the idea to ditch the movie format and turn Looking for Alaska into a television event.

Froseth and Plummer returned, while Denny Love and Jay Lee joined the cast as the Colonel and Takumi, respectively. Meanwhile, Veep alum Tim Simons was charged with overseeing the madness the students at Culver Creek create as the Eagle.

Earlier this summer, TV Guide visited the set of Looking for Alaska to talk to Schwartz and the cast about bringing Green's now-iconic novel to life, why the story resonates with so many, and what to expect from their take. Expanding the adaptation from a two-hour movie to an eight-hour miniseries allows the cast and crew to do a deep dive into the world of Culver Creek Academy and its students. Schwartz also moved the timing of the miniseries up to 2005, using the music that inspired his first drive over a decade ago to now be the soundtrack of Alaska and her cohorts' adventures.

Our behind-the-scenes video above offers fans an in-depth look at how Looking for Alaska will tackle the enthralling themes of Green's novel before the series premieres Friday, Oct. 18 on Hulu.

Charlie Plummer and Kristine Froseth, Looking for Alaska​

Charlie Plummer and Kristine Froseth, Looking for Alaska

Steve Dietl, Hulu