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‘The Sun is also a Star,’ from YA best-seller novel to movie adaptation

Can a poet and a pragmatist fall in love?  What if they only have 24 hours to find out?  Something like love at first sight has struck Daniel Bae (Charles Melton), but he soon learns he has just one day to not only get Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) to fall for him, but to convince her that romantic love exists in the first place.  One day.  Because tomorrow she could be gone.

In “The Sun Is Also a Star,” opposites attract against the backdrop of one of the busiest and most vibrant cities in the world: New York.  And in a city of more than eight million people, what are the odds that anyone will find the one…or that their paths will even cross?

The film pits the law of attraction against a U.S. deportation law that will, in just 24 hours, put the character of Natasha and her entire family on a plane to Jamaica, away from everything she knows and loves, everything she considers home.

The film is based on the acclaimed bestseller of the same title by author Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything).  The Sun Is Also a Star was #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list and has received multiple accolades, including: 2016 National Book Award Finalist; Amazon’s Best Book of 2016 in YA; Amazon’s Top 20 Children’s Books of 2016 in YA; the New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2016; and Entertainment Weekly’s 10 Best Books of 2016.

Nicola Yoon was inspired by the serendipity of her own relationship in creating the characters—though she and her husband did not meet at such a problematic time as Natasha and Daniel.

“We did not meet whilst I was being deported, or anything like that,” Yoon confirms.  “But I’m Jamaican-American and my husband is Korean-American, like Natasha and Daniel, and we did have a lot of the conversations that I included in the book.  We talked about philosophical things and I was always the one asking, ‘What does it really mean?’ which, I’m sure, was kind of annoying.  And we did go to karaoke a lot,” she smiles.  “My husband is a great singer, and so is Daniel.”

In conceiving the pair who are both at a pivotal time of life—nearing the end of high school, preparing for college—Yoon drew from her own experiences as a student at Cornell University, particularly from a series of lectures by noted astronomer Carl Sagan.  “He was so good at taking complex scientific concepts and making you really feel the human impact of these complicated things.  All of this was in my mind when thinking about the forces that push Daniel and Natasha together, and the ones the pull them apart.”

Director Ry Russo-Young offers, “The key things that seemed important to Nicola and myself to maintain from book to screen were a sense of cultural authenticity for both main characters, as well as the love story.  Then, in the execution, to get everything right in terms of the chemistry between Natasha and Daniel…well, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier than casting Yara and Charles.

Nicola Yoon was impressed with Shahidi’s take on the character right away.  “Yara’s fantastic, a brilliant actress, and also a great activist for young black women, which was wonderful to bring to the role,” she says.  “Being on set and watching her take over Natasha but still really maintain the spirit of her from the book…I couldn’t have been any luckier.”

The author was equally over the moon about Charles Melton.  “I love his energy.  He’s always moving, he’s so enthusiastic and game for the next thing.  I remember watching one scene—an emotional scene—and it was a real location so there was a lot of ambient noise, a lot happening around us, and he was crying.  And then I was crying.  And I thought, ‘How, in the middle of all this, is he make me cry right now?’”

In Philippine cinemas Thursday, May 16, “The Sun Is Also a Star” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.  #The SunIsAlsoAStar

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