The Kleenex was out in force Tuesday at the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live for the premiere of “The Best of Me,” the latest film based on one of Nicholas Sparks’ heart-wrenching romance novels.
Helmer Michael Hoffman says the opportunity to adapt one of Sparks’ novels meant the chance to tell a special love story.
“I think (Sparks) is the poet laureate of the American love story,” Hoffman said. “What I like about his books is I think he has an instinct for a certain kind of truthfulness for people’s psychological behavior. Every one of his books is very specific, addresses a different problem, a different moment in people’s lives.”
The film, which Sparks also produced, follows a lost romance, starting in high school with a young Dawson (Luke Bracey) and young Amanda (Liana Liberato) falling in love before a tragedy splits them apart. 20 years later, following the death of a mutual friend and father figure (Gerald McRaney), Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) are reunited, but the sparks don’t fly right away – Amanda is now married to an alcoholic golf aficionado (Sebastian Arcelus) and has a son heading to college.
Marsden knows what it means to be a part of a Sparks tearjerker, playing the handsome and wealthy young lawyer left behind by Rachel McAdams’ Allie for Ryan Gosling’s Noah in 2004’s “The Notebook.” For him a return to this kind of romance meant being a part of a movie that feels different from a lot of what he sees in theaters. And plus, he felt enough time had passed that he would be allowed to star in a Sparks romance again.
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“I think I’ve breached the statute of limitations on when I can come back into a movie like this,” Marsden said. “In a field where you see many more superhero films, and they’re great, some of which I’m a part of … but you see less and less of this kind of movie, so when they come along, it’s a special thing.”
Liberato, like the rest of the cast, is a fan of Sparks’ books and isn’t afraid to admit to shedding the occasional tear when reading them.
“Of course I’m a fan, I’m a 19-year-old girl,” Liberato said. “Reading the script I was sitting alone in my room and the tears were definitely flowing.”
One of the attractions for fans, one would assume, will be the opportunity to spend two hours with both Marsden and Bracey on the big screen, two of Hollywood’s most dashing leading men. As for who’s the better looking of the two, Liberato had a qualified answer.
“It’s so hard because they’re both so cute,” Liberato said. “But I spent a lot of time with Luke, so I’m going to have to go with Luke. But I will say I did pick (this movie) for a scene with James, and I didn’t get it. But I’m still trying.”
Bracey, though, deferred to his elder co-star.
“Look the guy’s played Prince Charming, how do you compete with that?” Bracey said. “I can’t even come to the plate on that one.”
After the premiere, for which Sparks, producer Denise Di Novi and Hoffman gave a heartfelt introduction, the party moved down the street to Club Nokia, with drinks and creole-inspired food, in honor of the film’s Bayou setting. Country trio Lady Antebellum took the stage for a live performance of “I Did With You,” which they wrote for the film, their latest single “Bartender,” and more.
Relativity releases “The Best of Me” on Oct. 16.
(Pictured: Producer Denise Di Novi, Nicholas Sparks, Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato at the premiere of Relativity’s “The Best of Me”)