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An Interview with Author Nicholas Sparks on the Best of Me Set
I was recently to a set visit for The Best of Me. This movie is adapted from the novel by Nicholas Sparks (that cutie in the photo above). Read our other articles here:
Nicholas Sparks says that each of his books will have “love and something.” It could be love and mystery, love and forgiveness, love and loss, and as this one is an example of first love. You look for three things – looking for things to be interesting, original, and universal. That goes to the theme of the story, the journey of the character, but also the specific elements in the book. Sparks doesn’t write messages, but instead says a single issue doesn’t define you entirely. He says, “It’s one part of your life, and most importantly, parts you can change. I’m an author. but also I am a father, a friend, a brother, a friend. You are not just one person.”
Your novel is about getting a second chance at love. Can you share a little more?
I was in my 40s when I wrote The Best Me, and I think the 40s are a very interesting period of peoples’ lives. It’s like, if you’re in your 20s and your 30s, you kind of believe that your dreams can come true. You’ll meet the right guy, or you’ll be famous, or whatever your dreams are.
So, you go through your 20s and 30s, and there’s a part of you that just knows it’s still, you still got a shot, here. Well, in your 50s, 60s, and 70s, you kind of reach a point where you’re looking back and say, well, maybe they didn’t all come true. I’m never going to be an astronaut. I think I’ve now passed the NASA retirement age or whatever. So, you go through that.
So, the 40s is this period, this decade of your life when really, there tends to be a lot of self-reflection. Who am I? How did I get here? Is this the life I wanted to lead?
It kind of felt like maybe I got here by accident. And is this the life I want to lead the rest of my life?
So, all of those factors, that period of the 40s really comes into play for both Dawson and Amanda in The Best of Me. Is this what you want for the next 40 years of your life? Now that you’ve reached the age where you’re very conscious of the fact that life is about choices, and, you know, sometimes you reach that point of now or never.
Do you have a say in the differences between the movie and the book?
Yes, the differences between the book and the movie, of course there are always differences. You know, film is a very different medium, in general. So, because they’re different mediums, you have to kind of go into the whole project knowing that some things work better on film than they do in books. And some things conversely work better in books than they do on film.
For instance, a car chase always works better on film, right, or scenes that have some real emotional intensity, like anger scenes, fight scenes–yes, I can do it in a book, and I work really hard to make it as real as I can, but really, it’s seeing their face and all of that. That really helps to bring it to life. So, action scenes, emotional intensity–that tends to work better in film.
What works better in a novel? Introspection. You really can get into someone’s head. And so, the goal in a film is to then figure out what the introspection is and then to come up somehow with images for them, and that, in and of itself, requires changes.
Whether I’m producing or screenwriting, I say, let’s retain the spirit and the intent of the characters. Let’s retain the spirit and the intent of the story, and then let’s just make the best film we can, knowing that it’s a different medium.
Then you add in the fact that a script is about 20,000 words. This novel was about, you know, 90,000 words. So, I mean, of course there’s going to be differences.
But, it’s very close within the spirit of the characters, the spirit of the story, and certainly, if you’ve read the novel, you will recognize the film.
ABOUT THE BEST OF ME
Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.
The Best of Me stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato.