As Nicholas Sparks fans eagerly await the release of his next book on the big screen, Safe Haven, there are a few things I recently discovered that I think his readers will find very interesting about his life, his books, and this movie.
I was lucky enough to sit in on “A Night with Nicholas Sparks”, a promotional event that included interviews with “Nick” (that’s what his pals call him), actors Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, and producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey.
They revealed all kinds of insights throughout the night, along with some sneak peeks at some of the scenes from the movie.
Sparks intrigued me the most. He talked about meeting his wife during spring break in college. Nope, not the most romantic of locations, but she certainly made an impression. He talked about her holding the door open for some elderly folks, standing guard over some children on the beach while a couple guys placed Frisbee nearby, and talking as kindly to the guys who weren’t Josh-Duhamel-gorgeous as those who were. He let her know he intended to marry her one day. And he meant it. He pointed out she was not his first love. His heart had been broken before. And the same was true of the woman who would one day come to be known as his wife. This was their second chance at love.
He talked about the process of writing his books, and how he started as a bored teenager. No kidding. After complaining, his mom suggested he “go write a book”. And he did. He claims it wasn’t any good. But years later, when the Cheers TV series was coming to an end, something inside him clicked. He told us he felt like all this time had passed in his life from when the series started and when it ended and he didn’t feel like he had done enough with his life. So he squeezed in writing a book on weeknights after work, or weekends in between activities. He told himself he’d try writing three different books. If he failed, so be it, but at least he would try. The first one was The Notebook and we all know he far from failed. It was his second chance at writing.
He describes Safe Haven as a story of second chances. It’s about a woman’s struggle to love again. She falls for a widowed store owner in the small town where she relocates after running from the man who tortured her for years. But her old life comes back to haunt her in this romantic thriller. The movie of the same name is based on this book, and producers Bowen and Godfrey say they had a real thrill producing it. They talked about the time they realized Duhamel just had to play the role of the widowed husband. Duhamel, after reading the book, told the audience that he wanted the other role—that of the bad guy—but ultimately embraced the role he was offered.
Hough was asked about the dance scene that is part of this movie, and whether it made her miss her role on Dancing With the Stars. She admitted that it did the opposite, making her want to act more than ever.
They covered all kinds of other topics, too, ranging from changing character names to please Sparks’ daughter (Lexi was mentioned in two books, but never a movie, and she made it clear to her father that a movie would be much cooler in her opinion), to the fact that Duhamel wasn’t a quick-learner in the hobby of catching crabs on the river (they shared a pretty funny video to support this).
I left the theater excited to see the movie which is set to release on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. I also left inspired about the prospect of second chances in my own life.