Posted on 15 April 2015.
Best-selling author Nicholas Sparks can now say that he has hit double digits in the number of his novels that have reached the big screen. Movie No. 10, “The Longest Ride,” hit theaters on April 10 and follows the developing romance between art student Sophia (Britt Robertson) and professional bull rider Luke (Scott Eastwood). When the couple rescues an old man Ira (Alan Alda) from a burning car, the film begins to tell not one but two intertwining stories. As Ira shares with Sophia his past love letters, the parallel between the two love stories becomes clear as Sophia learns the role of sacrifice in love. The Circuit’s Online Managing Editor Jennifer Schonberger participated in a round table interview about “The Longest Ride” with Nicholas Sparks, Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood in Davie on March 30.
What are you most excited for audiences to see in the film?
Britt: How the two love stories connect. Because both love stories are like two separate movies, when I was watching the other story it was so moving. I love all of the different relationships between characters, so I think the experience of the film alone will be really exciting for the audience.
Britt and Scott, were you two involved with the filming of Ira and Ruth in any way?
Britt: Barely. There were times when I came on set and saw a few things, but very few, so it was a nice surprise.
In the book, the two stories don’t cross paths until the end. As a producer on this film, how was it making that change?
Nicholas: In a novel, you can hold that tension longer because you can be really in the mind of the character. You can’t do that so easily in film. Had you not brought old Ira in right away, then why are we telling two different stories? This way, you know why the third story comes into play between Sophia and old Ira. But the same question remains in the novel. Why are we telling these two stories and how is it all going to come together in the end? A novel can be long, but screenplays are very specific: 120 pages. So you have to work within the constructs of each medium.
Where was your inspiration for this story? Many of your stories have a Catholic influence, but as far as the Judaism in this one, was there something that inspired you?
Nicholas: I wanted to write two stories because I had never done it before. Then all sorts of decisions get made. One of them is to make Ira and Ruth Jewish. I hadn’t done it before, and I always try to do new things. Ira was really inspired by a guy named Leo. My grandmother was a good Irish Catholic lady who got divorced after 25 years. She couldn’t get married again, but she met Leo, a very nice Jewish man. They were together for 28 years and Leo was a part of my life. So Ira is Leo.
Britt and Scott, there was a great chemistry on screen. Did you spend time beforehand getting to know each other?
Scott: That’s just the Nicholas Sparks fairy dust.
Britt: Probably two weeks before we started shooting, we were just in North Carolina rehearsing. We had a lot of time to not be the characters and just be Britt and Scott and I think it helped learning from one another and feeling comfortable with each other.
Britt and Scott, what was your favorite scene to film, and Nicholas, for you to see brought to life?
Scott: I really liked bull riding. I was a fan of the PBR [Professional Bull Riders] long before I got the opportunity to do this, so I thought it was pretty cool. I became really passionate about getting it right.
Britt: My favorite was just the horseback riding, because I wasn’t thinking about subtext or anything other than just not falling off. So I was just enjoying the activity and trying to keep up with that guy [Scott].
Nicholas: I really liked watching Mark Garner, the production designer, bring everything to life. Whether it was being blown away by the sets or like you saw in the film, the old 1940s setting. It’s fun to watch the movie magic happen.
How was the research for the novel?
Nicholas: There was a lot. Rodeo and bull riding I had to do because in the novel, Luke’s father was in rodeo. Then I had to do cattle ranching in North Carolina, modern art, Black Mountain College. I had to make sure dates were right, when collections were started and that artists were there in the years in which I said they were there. In the novel, Ira was a navigator and I realized I didn’t know anything about how a navigator trained in World War II. I also had to get accurate what Jewish life in the South in the 1930s was like.
Britt, your character Sophia was strong and straightforward. Did you take experiences from your life or is that how you normally are with people?
Britt: When I approach a character, I always have to relate to her in some way. I need to feel comfortable making certain choices in the moment because that’s where the beauty lies in acting, finding things that you didn’t expect to be there. I’m not Sophia, but there are definitely things that I use such as my passion for acting that I could use to create her passion for art and creativity. But I guess being straightforward is sort of my nature.
Nicholas: I could answer. Yeah, it’s a lot like Sophia, how she is in real life.
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