'Paper Towns': The Inside Story Of How The Amazing Secret Cameo Happened

A short story about the tallest cameo in "Paper Towns."

Spoilers for "Paper Towns" and "Fault In Our Stars" ahead. You've been warned!

With additional reporting by Crystal Bell.

When "Paper Towns" hits theaters this Friday, you're in for a treat. Though his character Gus tragically died in "The Fault In Our Stars" (still sniffling over that little infinity, to be honest), Ansel Elgort is still alive and well in the universe of John Green movies.

As fans discovered at a special screening of "Paper Towns" in Los Angeles over the weekend, Elgort has a two-line cameo in the movie, as a gas station attendant.

When Quentin (Nat Wolff), Ben (Austin Abrams), Radar (Justice Smith), Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and Lacey (Halston Sage) go on their epic road trip/race against time to find Margo (Cara Delevingne), they have carefully timed gas station trips planned out. Each passenger has an assignment, whether that's to grab supplies, fill the tank or go to the bathroom. On the first hectic looting of the convenience store, when it comes time to pay, a familiar face is behind the counter: Elgort, sporting a giant dragon tattoo on one bicep.

Director Jake Schreier gave MTV News the scoop on how the legendary cameo came to be.

"I assume you’re talking about J.D. Pott’s cameo as the teacher," Schreier joked.

"I’m pretty sure it came about at the ‘Fault’ premiere or the MTV Movie Awards, I can’t remember which exact event it was," Schreier said. "Elizabeth, the head of the studio, was talking to Ansel and was saying, ‘you should do a cameo.’ It’s one of the nice things about the producers we had on 'Fault' and just how close everyone got and Nat and Ansel are such good friends -- it sort of feels like a family. So I mean, everyone just wanted to make it happen. And then it was the question of finding the right role and the right time, so that we could work it out."

At a press day in Los Angeles ahead of the film's release, Wolff said that keeping his friend's appearance under wraps was tough.

"He came down to do that one day on the movie," he said. "We tried to keep it secret for a while, but it was funny, when people would see it, they would scream, 'Gus!' Gus died in 'Fault In Our Stars,' sorry to ruin the movie if you haven't watched it. It was cool, because at the last minute, they decided to give him all those tattoos and stuff."

John Green, who wrote the novels "The Fault In Our Stars" and "Paper Towns" are based on, called Elgort's day of shooting "one of my favorite days."

"We called Ansel and asked him if he wanted to be in the movie and he said yes," Green said. "Ansel is a good friend of mine and a great friend of Nat's and it was a great day on set."

"It also felt a bit like a reunion, because Nat and Ansel are so close," Schreier said. "So, I think it was really fun for Nat to have his friend show up and to get to kind of play different roles than they got to play in ‘Fault’ and just have a good time.

And, yes, Elgort was always going to be the boy with the dragon tattoo, according to Schreier.

"There aren’t a lot of other characters in the film – you know what I mean?" he said. "Our options were limited. It was basically that or he could have been a check-out guy. I mean, I guess he could have played Gus [the Sun Trust building guard], but that could have been a little weird – you know, just the name’s the same."

Despite Elgort's lauded acting abilities, he was only supposed to have one line in the movie originally. Yes, that "do you like dragons" was pure Elgort-prov.

"I think the only line written for that character was, 'Do you guys need a bag?' Which also would have been a funny thing to be the only thing Ansel Elgort says in the movie, but I thought it was nice to give him improv to put more in," Schreier said. "Two lines for Ansel Elgort. Tough negotiation. He did well."

"Paper Towns" drives into theaters July 24, 2015.

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