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I had the immense pleasure of visiting the set of Safe Haven in Southport, NC last summer and had the opportunity to meet author Nicholas Sparks.
Safe Haven, which premieres on February 14th and stars Josh Duhamel (Alex) and Julianne Hough (Katie), is a suspenseful story about a woman who leaves her abusive marriage and slowly learns to trust and love again. She arrives in a small North Carolina town and meets Alex, a widower with two children. Secrets from her past start to invade her new life and she’s left to confront them.
I loved the book and I’m really looking forward to seeing the film. Who wouldn’t want to watch Josh Duhamel and the gorgeous Julianne Hough on the big screen? They have such great chemistry. I admit I was intimidated before I met Nicholas Sparks but he has such a calming presence. Within a few minutes, I was at ease with Mr. Sparks but also in awe.
I was able to sit down with him and ask some questions. So exciting!! Nicholas Sparks spoke with such passion about his work and it made me giddy with excitement.
Q: What has been one of your favorite scenes from the film?
Nicholas Sparks: There is a great scene with Alex in the canoe. He and Katie are getting to know each other and he’s taking her out on a date. There’s [also] a great scene with Julianne when she’s with her husband who brings her a beautiful gift. She turns around and all the expression dies from her face.
Q: Do you ever have a certain actor in mind when you’re writing the part?
Sparks: As a general, the answer’s no. But, that’s as a general rule.
Q: As far as the characters that you’ve developed, which ones do you relate to the most?
Sparks: In Safe Haven, it’s Alex. He is a guy trying to do the best for his kids, and he’s not perfect. He’s got his flaws. [My Characters] have to have flaws. For the most part, my characters are created with my own world view. I think that 80 percent of the people 80 percent of the time try to do the right thing.
Q: Do you think Safe Haven will help raise awareness with domestic violence?
Sparks: What I’m trying to do is to say that it doesn’t define you entirely. You know, you’re not just one thing. That’s what it’s like for Alex. To not just be defined by the face that he’s a widower. He’s also a father, he runs the store, he is lonely. There’s a lot of different things about him.
Q: When it comes to Katie’s abusive ex, you did such a great job of getting the reader to grasp just how crazy he was. How do you translate that to the film?
Sparks: As soon as you move from novel to film, you have to start making decisions. To be quite frank, some of that is impossible to bring out so you have to kind of pick. You make it a little more crazy [on film]. In a book, I had 30, 40 pages to devote to Katie’s relationship with her ex. In a film, you’d probably have 8 to 10 pages. Some things get condensed.
Q: With Safe Haven, what research did you do to develop the story and characters?
Sparks: For Alex, he was a former military police man so I’ve looked into where he might have trained, where he may have been stationed. When it comes to being an abused woman [like Katie], maybe that’s just a knack I have, but I think it’s partly because, from the very beginning of my career, I’ve jumped into different characters.
Q: Was there anything in the book that had to be left out of the Safe Haven film?
Sparks: Most of the big stuff is in there. And that’s really all you can ask for.
Safe Haven comes out int theaters on February 14! Take a look at the trailer below: