The author of nearly 20 romance novels, Nicholas Sparks has contributed to the cinematic adaptations of his written works since the release of “A Message in a Bottle” in 1999.
“I’ve always been involved in the script oversight, notes, casting and selection of the director,” Sparks told Variety on Monday at the Los Angeles premiere of Lionsgate’s “The Choice” — which marks the 11th Nicholas Sparks adaptation. “Film is always a very collaborative process. You’ve got a lot of voices — studio voices, producers’ voices, directors’ voices, casts’ voice. I was always one of those voices,” said Sparks, who also foresees being involved in any future adaptations of his novels.
As his dynamic love stories continued to be developed into films, the bestselling author’s involvement in the productions increased; a progression he described as “a natural evolution.” Sparks was credited as a producer for “Safe Haven” (2013), “The Best of Me” (2014), “The Longest Ride” (2015) and “The Choice,” which is also the first independent feature from Nicholas Sparks Productions, the production company he launched with creative partner Theresa Park in 2012.
Of all the romances he’s contrived, Sparks said “The Choice” — which follows the trials and tribulations of a small town couple’s relationship — sets itself apart with humor, authenticity and relatability.
“It’ll speak to an authenticity that people will recognize in their own lives,” the author of books including beloved story “The Notebook” said.
Also praising “The Choice’s” humor was Benjamin Walker, who plays Travis Shaw in the film.
“I’m a little biased, but I think we have the best chemistry, and it’s expressed particularly in the sense of humor that we share,” Walker said of his connection with on-screen love interest Teresa Palmer. “We ad-libbed a lot of the movie, and there’s a lot of comedy that I don’t really see in the other [Nicholas Sparks] movies.”
“Our story is beautiful because there’s a third part to our story, where it’s not just about falling in love and how passionate that can be,” said Palmer of her on-screen romance with Walker, which spanned a ten-year period in the film.
“[Sparks] trusted his writing, he trusted Bryan Sipe, the screenwriter, and trusted us to bring it to life. If it’s not good, joke’s on him,” Walker said.
Added co-star Noree Victoria, “This is one of the first Nicholas Sparks movies that is so diversified. I’m a fan of anyone who can write from a perspective of the human condition and tell our stories.”
Sparks, Walker, Palmer and Victoria were joined at the premiere by director Ross Katz, producer Peter Safran and “The Choice” co-stars Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Welling, Brad James, Anna Enger and Jesse C. Boyd.
“The Choice” marks Katz’s third directing effort, behind 2014’s “Adult Beginners” and 2009’s “Taking Chance” — but his first in the romance genre.
“I wanted to do this movie so badly,” Katz said. “I went to Lionsgate and Peter Safran and I just threw myself in front of them and basically said, ‘I’ve got to do this movie.’ I love Nick’s books and I love the world he creates.”
Also in attendance at the premiere were Sasha Alexander, “Orange is the New Black’s” Madeline Brewer, Renee Olstead, “Shadowhunters'” Katherine McNamara and “The Bachelor’s” Becca Tilley.
The premiere screening of “The Choice,” hosted at ArcLight Hollywood, was followed by a reception at Hollywood’s Le Jardin, where guests enjoyed music, an assortment of wines and hors d’oeuvres.
Lionsgate’s “The Choice” bows Feb. 5.