April 2, 2015
Scott Eastwood is hot.
Britt Robertson is adorable.
Nicholas Sparks, whose novel “The Longest Ride” was adapted into a movie by the same name, is a master of his genre.
But let’s be honest. The real star of the movie, due out April 10, was a 1,500-pound bull named Rango.
“The Longest Ride” concerns a hunky bull rider named Luke (Eastwood), who meets a dazzling art student, Sophia (Robertson), as Luke is mounting a comeback following a disastrous encounter with Rango (Rango).
The modern-day romance gets interwoven with a 1940s love story involving Ruth and Ira (Oona Chaplin and Jack Huston/Alan Alda) and the handkerchief scenes come in between rough, rugged scenes in the ring.
“I like guy movies,” Eastwood said. “I thought this would appeal to men, too. The appeal of playing a bull rider: They’re American cowboys, the last American gladiators.”
Although his character is a bull rider and rancher, he personally didn’t climb aboard one of the professional bovines until after filming (42 days in North Carolina) concluded. But he very much related to rugged, no-nonsense Luke.
“The character wasn’t too big of a stretch for me,” he said. “That’s sort of who I am to begin with. I grew up riding horses and doing outdoor stuff.”
Eastwood’s dad, Clint Eastwood, is also something of an outdoorsman who has spent time in Atlanta as well. He filmed “Trouble With the Curve” in metro Atlanta and North Georgia and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” in Savannah. The Eastwood men aren’t much for talking shop, though. The younger Eastwood was drawn to “The Longest Ride” because of its interesting characters and subject matter.
“It’s timeless,” he said of professional bull riding, a sport relatively unscathed by technological advances. “There is no instant replay. It all comes down to eight seconds. On any given day, a guy can make it or can’t.”
Sparks said he spent time researching bull riding, art, and Jewish life in 1940s North Carolina before penning the novel. Robertson said her longtime admiration of the novelist drew her to the role.
“I’m a huge fan of the Nick Sparks genre,” she said. “I’ve been a fan for a long time. It was just a really great experience.”
Rango was unavailable for comment. He died last year.
“The 7-year-old bovine athlete was admitted to the hospital for intestinal issues and passed away after experiencing heart troubles while receiving treatment,” the Professional Bull Riders website reported mournfully last year.
Eastwood struck a note of awe when discussing Rango and his brethren, and the guys who try hanging on for the professionally sanctioned eight seconds at a time.
“Most people don’t realize that the best guys, when they’re having their best year, have a 50 percent buck-off rate,” he said.
He was referring to people, not bulls. Rango boasted a buck-off rate of 84 percent.
As part of their promotional efforts the trio visited Alpha Xi Delta’s Gamma Eta chapter at Georgia Tech recently.
Participating against other area sororities, AXiD earned the visit by winning a social media challenge. AXiD President Leslie Wetzel and her sisters, along with Georgia Tech cheerleaders, greeted Sparks, Robertson and Eastwood. Robertson was made an “honorary sister,” Eastwood was crowned AXiD’s “sweetheart” for 2015, and Sparks was given a traditional sorority paddle with the symbol of “The Quill” and motto “The Pen is Mightier Then the Sword.”