Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   January 27, 2015

DAILYNEWS – How do you play a teenager with leukemia? By not stressing the leukemia.

“I saw her as everything else but her illness,” actress Olivia Cooke told the audience Jan. 25 at the Eccles Theatre, after the premiere of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Cooke plays the third part of that title, Rachel, a high-schooler who learns she has stage 4 leukemia. She is reluctantly befriended by Greg (Thomas Mann), a self-loathing loner who makes amateur movies with his only friend, Earl (RJ Cyler).

Cooke, sporting a Manchester accent she hid successfully in the film, said that “when I read the script, I knew I would have done anything to be in it.” (Going by her pixie hairdo, “anything” included shaving her head to show Rachel in midchemo.)

Mann had a similar feeling about the script.

“I just knew that I wanted to do it,” he said. “I saw a lot of myself in (Greg).”

The script was written by Jesse Andrews, the author of the novel on which it was based. Andrews had never written a screenplay before and received this advice from a producer: “Get Final Draft and type anything and it will be legit.”

When asked if there was anything in the book that didn’t survive to the movie, Andrews joked, “It’s not in space anymore, so that’s probably the biggest change.”

The movie also stars Connie Britton, Molly Shannon and Nick Offerman.

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