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Claire Wineland Was Justin Baldoni’s Inspiration for ‘Five Feet Apart’

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T his heartwarming and emotional love story about two teenagers battling cystic fibrosis will have you reaching for tissues. It’s inspired from a YouTuber, Claire Wineland.

Although it’s of a similar theme as Fault in Our Stars, it’s still unique and beautiful on its own. The disease, cystic fibrosis, that has threatened the lives of our main couple Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse), prevents them from having physical touch. They have to remain six feet apart in order to avoid cross-infection and endanger each other’s lives.

Starring the incredibly talented Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse, this dramatic romance story is definitely going to tug at at your heart strings. It’s directed by Justin Baldoni, who you might recognize as Rafael Solano from Jane the Virgin. You might be surprised and even touched to hear that the inspiration for this story was a YouTuber famous for openly showcasing her struggles of having cystic fibrosis. Her name is Claire Wineland.

How Wineland Became the Inspiration for Five Feet Apart

Justin Baldoni previously made a documentary with the late Youtube Claire Wineland entitled My Last Days. The CW documentary revolved around six people suffering from a terminal illness. The people documented still endeavored to remain positive despite their painful disease. They wanted to leave the world with good memories as they departed.

The director became close friends with one in particular. About Claire Wineland, Baldoni stated:

“She became like a little sister to me [after filming My Last Days]. It was after my experience with her — I just fell in love with who she was, and how she lived her life, and how she constantly chose joy and really wanted to live. And the thought that life can be made into a beautiful piece of art regardless of your circumstances, that really made me feel curious about this illness in the first place.”

Claire Wineland’s amazing behavior and courage became a source of inspiration for Justin Baldoni. It’s truly heartwarming to see someone with a chronic illness still maintain a positive attitude despite the grueling circumstances. Baldoni’s increasing curiosity led to him asking Wineland a series of questions exploring what life with CF is like.

One in particular was whether a person with CF can date another person with CF. Unfortunately, as portrayed in Five Feet Apart, Claire Wineland elaborated on how that’s the most frowned upon thing. It’s avoided as it can cause cross-infection and endanger both lives as a result.

Accurate Portrayal of Cystic Fibrosis Thanks to Wineland

Ultimately, Claire Wineland’s insight and experience of cystic fibrosis led to an accurate portrayal of this vicious disease. After hearing how great the dangers of living with CF are, Justin Baldoni wanted to tell the story which was closer to reality while also giving a message of hope. The movie’s goal was that patients of CF would watch the movie and feel represented. For this mission, he enlisted the help of someone who was more than eager to share her story of dealing with cystic fibrosis in the public eye: Claire Wineland.

Wineland was asked by Baldoni to be a part of the movie process. Hence, a great collaboration took place. The YouTuber sat down with the writers and producers, sharing all her stories to help the movie makers create a story worth seeing.

Sadly, she passed away in September 2018, before she even got to see the director’s cut. It’s unfortunate that Claire Wineland didn’t get to see the movie but as per Baldoni, she was still so excited to just be a part of something where people with Cystic Fibrosis were represented on the big screens.

Claire Wineland’s Legacy: Hope even in the Darkest of Moments

The remarkable life of Claire Wineland has left a legacy within us all. Her relentless bravery and eagerness to find hope and joy even in the darkest of times instills an appreciation for life. It’s what Five Feet Apart successfully managed to express as well. We are truly glad that people like Claire Wineland are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Even though, she had to spend a quarter of her life in the hospital, Claire Wineland chose to make her time in the hospital as joyful as possible. The optimistic YouTuber used to play hide-and-seek with the hospital staff that she called her family. Always playing around with a big smile on her face, it was hard to remain sad in her joyful presence.

Hopefully, people will continue seeing her life as a source of motivation.

Five Feet Apart will be out in theaters in March 15th 2019.

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