Nicholas Sparks Picks His Favorite Nicholas Sparks Movie Scenes
For nearly 20 years, Nicholas Sparks has been crafting emotionally powerful novels that deal with every relationship hurdle imaginable: War, class, aging, rebellion, and death are common themes. In 1999, Hollywood took note of how insanely popular his works had become and turned his second novel, Message in a Bottle, into a feature film starring Robin Wright, Kevin Costner, and Paul Newman.
“There was never any hesitation,” Sparks told BuzzFeed News of selling the rights to his books. “I had the chance to tell the story the way I want, people have had a chance to imagine the story the way they want, and a film is just another chance to see the story the way someone else imagined it. To me, it’s just one more great way to tell a story.”
To date, eight of his stories have been turned into hugely popular films — with the ninth, The Best of Me coming to theaters on Oct. 17, and his first TV movie, Deliverance Creek, premiering this month on Lifetime — so BuzzFeed asked Sparks to reflect on the adaptations of his novels and select his single favorite scene.
3. Message in a Bottle (1999)
Robin Wright starred alongside Kevin Costner and Paul Newman as Theresa Osborne, a woman attempting to track down the author of a love letter after finding it inside a bottle on the beach.
“My favorite scene in that one is with Paul Newman on the porch,” Sparks said. “He’s talking to Robin Wright and joking, ‘If I were 100 years younger, you’d be in trouble.’ I think that is probably my favorite scene.”
That was the first film, so every single thing was new. I mean, the first time I saw that, I was pretty much alone in a theater on the Warner Bros. lot. I watched this thing thinking, Oh my gosh, I picked that name! Oh my gosh, I picked that city! It was far and away the most surreal experience I’ve ever had because it was first.”
4. A Walk to Remember (2002)
Shane West and Mandy Moore played Landon and Jamie, lovers savoring borrowed time, as she has terminal leukemia.
“A lot of great scenes in this one, but I’m going to go with the scene with Shane and Mandy in the car, on their date — he helps her be in two places at once — and puts the fake tattoo on,” said Sparks. “Just the fact that he was trying to help make some of her dreams come true. I found that to be a great scene.”
The film is also extremely popular with Sparks’ family. “The movie we watch most frequently in my house is A Walk To Remember. I have kids and I just think the message there is wonderful: You can be true to who you are and you can do the right thing and it’s OK. I think it’s such a fabulous, fabulous message.”
5. The Notebook (2004)
Far and away the most talked about Sparks movie, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams played star-crossed lovers, continually driven apart by her status-obsessed family.
“We gotta go with the rain,” Sparks exclaimed. “Gotta go with kissing in the rain! Come on! How can I not? There is no other scene. That’s what everyone watches the movie for: ‘It wasn’t over for me! It still isn’t over!” Come on, that’s so good.”
Although not an outright box office smash, the film found a second life on DVD and on cable. “I think it only did $81 million, which certainly isn’t Spider-Man or Titanic; you’re talking about 10 or 11 million people only saw it in theaters, and now what’s the number? 300 million people? It seems to have struck a chord in a way that a lot of movies didn’t. I don’t think there’s any question that The Notebook — for any number of reasons: the performances, how much it’s in rotation — is most likely destined to become a classic.”
6. Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Richard Gere and Diane Lane found solace in one another’s arms during a long weekend at a bed and breakfast.
“There’s this great, wonderful scene that I think symbolizes who they are,” Sparks said. “It’s nighttime and they’re each standing on different porches: one above, one below. The water is washing up below the house and you get this sense of loneliness and isolation and longing in a single image.”
7. Dear John (2010)
Soldiers have been protagonists in more than one of Sparks’ books. Here, Channing Tatum played John, a soldier carrying on a long-distance relationship with Amanda Seyfried’s Savannah, in the Lasse Hallström-directed hit.
“I have to go with the scene of Channing reading these letters with Amanda’s voiceover, as she writes them,” he said. “To me, that’s a wonderful scene because the art of writing is going away. Everyone is emailing now. It was really and truly the last time in which the U.S. Postal Service was this important to people, because now you Skype people. It’s different now for soldiers. For me, it was a last chance to look at the power of the written word.”
8. The Last Song (2010)
For the first time in Sparks’ career, he wrote the screenplay before the novel, as Disney was very keen to get this Miley Cyrus-starrer in theaters. Alongside Kelly Preston, Greg Kinnear, and Liam Hemsworth (in his breakout role), Cyrus played a rebellious teen who learned about life and love during a particularly enlightening summer.
“I was able to use the outline of the movie for the novel,” Sparks said. “I don’t generally do it that way for time reasons. But my favorite scene in that one is when Miley’s talking to her mom, and says, ‘I can’t go. I have to stay.’ She’d been struggling and angry and plagued by guilt, and that’s the moment when she grows up.”
9. The Lucky One (2012)
Zac Efron made his first big push into adult roles, alongside a pre-Orange is the New Black Taylor Schilling, in this story of a soldier who returns to America in hopes of finding the woman whose photo he carried throughout three tours in Iraq.
“It’s tough to break out of being a teen star into playing an adult and I thought Zac did a really good job of playing an adult here,” Sparks said. “I’m going to go with the scene in the shower for that one. I thought that was an incredibly sexy scene. I thought it was well done and by the time the film reached that point, it was exactly what you were hoping for for both characters.”
10. Safe Haven (2013)
Sparks also produced this drama, starring Josh Duhamel as a recent widower and Julianne Hough as a woman on the run from her inescapable past.
“I like the scene with Josh and Julianne in the rowboat for a couple of reasons,” Sparks said. “That was, literally, day one or two of filming and I remember talking to Josh about how to play that scene, because they thrust him into this really tough scene at the beginning. I generally don’t give advice, and that’s not really advice, but I thought there was such an utter believability in Josh’s performance in that scene, and Julianne’s reaction to him. I just thought it was exactly how it would be in real life, so we got a beautiful moment of honesty in which someone admits something deeply personal to someone he cares about.”
11. Deliverance Creek and The Best of Me (2014)
2014 will see the release of two new Sparks films: One on television (Lifetime’s Deliverance Creek, which airs Sept. 13) and one in theaters (The Best of Me, to be released Oct. 17).
Of Deliverance Creek, Sparks said, “I’ve always wanted to do a Western. One of my all-time favorite movies is Unforgiven.” The historically testosterone-heavy genre proved to be fertile ground for Sparks, who has a unique knack for writing female protagonists. “I wanted to do something different,” he said. “Something no one had seen before, which is to really explore the reality of their situation. In many of these small towns, the men went off to fight, leaving the women behind to become very powerful. They had to keep the towns and ranches running while their husbands were away for years.”
With The Best of Me, Sparks returns to his comfort zone, writing about high school sweethearts (James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan) who reunite after decades to find out they’ve both carried torches for one another despite going their separate ways after graduation.
“There is not a person who is married who hasn’t wondered, What if I married someone else? Who would I be?” said Sparks. “I think the forties are an incredibly interesting decade in life for most people. In your teens, your twenties, and your thirties, you still probably believe that all your dreams will come true. When you’re in your fifties, sixties, and seventies, well, you’ve now reached the point where you accept that your dreams may not happen. The forties is this period where you have the realization you’ve made a series of choices, but you’re not quite ready to accept that all your dreams may not come true. For me, it was a fascinating decade to write.”